Where God Dwells
Spirit of God, ignite my worship and illuminate Your Word so that I may truly enter Your presence.
2 Chronicles 6:1-11
Consider: We need to grapple with the mystery that the transcendent God chooses to dwell in the hearts of humble sinners.
Solomon’s prayer begins by contrasting what we might call God’s previous “homelessness” with his “magnificent” new residence. Prior to the monarchy, Israel had not been an urban society, nor did it possess a central shrine as the focal point of worship. The establishing of Jerusalem as a capital city and the centralizing of worship represented a major transition in the history of this people. The Temple provided God with a place “to dwell for ever” (2); the homeless God has a place to stay!
Solomon knows that not even the “highest heavens” can contain the transcendent Lord, so God cannot be confined within the Temple’s walls (18). Nonetheless, there is a significant theological shift, in which God’s freedom is at risk of being curtailed. Solomon’s confidence that the Lord would “dwell for ever” in the new Temple, guaranteeing the protection of the city of Jerusalem, was to become an ideology attacked by the prophets as deceptive and dangerous. The worship in the Temple became so divorced from the ethics of the covenant that God said, through Isaiah, that it did no more than wear the floor (Isa. 1:12). Jeremiah went further, denouncing the liturgy as “deceptive words” which turned the house of God into a “den of robbers” (Jer. 7:4,11).
In 1863 a magnificent church building was opened in a blaze of glory in the wealthy West End of the city of Glasgow (Scotland). The night before, someone chalked on the door, “This church is not built for the poor and needy / But for the rich and Dr. Eadie [presumably the pastor]. / The rich may come in and take their seats / But the poor must go to Cambridge Street.” Last year the doors were closed for the last time. Sadly, this situation has been duplicated in cities around the world. God does not live in any human temple “forever,” but condescends to dwell wherever people love, honor and obey him.
The Bible ends with a vision of a city in which there is no Temple (Rev. 21:22). What might this say to us regarding the place of church buildings today?
Sovereign Lord, whose love is deeper than the oceans and higher than the mountains, You indwell me. Amazing God, I bow before You.