2 Chronicles 6:18 “But will God indeed dwell with men on earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”
Solomon had completed construction of the first temple in Jerusalem. He had blessed the people of Israel and how had turned around on his huge brass platform and begun praying to God to accept and inhabit this house of stone. Solomon remarked on God’s immenseness and how even heaven cannot contain the full of whom God is much less that he would dwell in a stone building on one tiny planet in the universe.
Solomon understood that God is omnipresent, and there is no place in the universe to contain or house his Majesty – Yahweh! – let alone this tiny temple. What Solomon did not know is how God longed to dwell among his people, and yes, here on earth. The king of Israel had not been given the Word that would dwell in the hearts of men. He didn’t know how the Spirit of God would dwell in the hearts of men after the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah. It had not been revealed. Thus Solomon could ask such a question of the living God.
Thankfully for us, we live in the age of God’s Spirit dwelling in temples not made with human hands. There is the difference. Before Joel’s prophecy, which came after Solomon’s day, was fulfilled, God’s Spirit merely “rested” upon people rather living in them. The heart of man had not yet been re-made into the temple of God.
In the very beginning, God’s Spirit did dwell in the heart of Adam, and he was able to physically commune with God in Eden. However, when Adam sinned, he created a great chasm between God and man through sin. The chasm still exists, but Jesus bridged that gap by giving his life for us. Thus, when God chose a people from among the nations of the earth to be his special progeny, he chose to dwell with them temporarily in a tent and then later in the temples.
The tabernacle-temple plan was neither God’s original design nor intent. They were temporal “fixes” to the situation at hand. Once the Messiah came and paved the way for man to re-unite with God spiritually, God’s Spirit could then once again come and dwell among men. Thus, to answer Solomon’s poignant question with modern hindsight, God will indeed dwell on earth with men. It was his original plan and is so today.
If you doubt me, then read the words of the prophet Ezekiel of the new heaven and the new earth. Read also the words of John in Revelation how the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven and rest above the new earth where God will dwell among men. Please review the other words of John in his gospel of how the “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God….The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:1,14).
What we also tend to forget is that Jesus was also called Immanuel – God with us. Even in the days of Moses he proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and practiced the Feast of Tabernacles that foreshadowed the coming of His coming and how He would dwell (or tabernacle) among men. It has always been God’s will to live and dwell on earth with his people.
Solomon had some of this information (from Moses) and should have known God’s intent on being among men on earth despite his not knowing he later details to come. We need to keep on the forefront of our minds and hearts that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit as Paul noted in his letters. What better place for God to dwell among men than in the hearts of his people rather than hovering over some building of goatskin or stone!
The other thing about the body of Christ, which is the temple of God, is that is not made by man’s hands that are imperfect and capable of error. The hearts of men are the creation of the Creator, who is perfect and cannot err. His home must be perfect as he is perfect.
Father, my heart is your home on this earth. I am grateful that you have chosen to reside in me. What an honor, but the greater glory belongs to you. I in myself am nothing. I could never be your temple without your work on the cross, your work in my life, and your work in creation. From eternal past to eternal future you have desired to tabernacle among your people, which is why you went to such great lengths to sacrifice your son Jesus for our sins. It is the reason why you created us in the first place – to have companions with whom you could commune. You had the angels but desired us above them. We are honored but humbled simultaneously. Thank you for dwelling with us and in us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.