Solomon’s prayer when dedicating the Temple is recorded in 2 Chronicles. What caught our attention was that Solomon, after he “spread out his hands toward heaven”, said, “O LORD, God of Israel … keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart” (6:13,14). He noted the need for “sons to pay close attention to their way” (verse 16). Solomon then attempted a wider vision and asks, “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built” (verse 18).
Do we share Solomon’s perception of the immeasurable greatness of God? Our perception of the Creator grows as a result of man’s increasing discoveries and awareness of both the endlessness of space and the infinite smallness of things that can now be seen with newly invented instruments. There are now no limits to the way “knowledge shall increase” at “the time of the end” as Daniel was told (12:4).
The Temple that Jesus taught in (John 6) was built by Herod centuries after Solomon’s was destroyed by the Babylonians. The “disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple” (Matthew 24:1,2) but Jesus shocked them by saying it would all be “thrown down”. For about 1,945 years there has been no Temple in Jerusalem – the area sits vacant, apart from the Muslim ‘Dome of the Rock’ above what has been called ‘the wailing wall’.
In Ezekiel 40-48 we read his vision of a future and ultimate city-temple. The vision ends with the statement, “And the name of the city from that time on shall be, the LORD is there”. When “the highest heaven cannot contain” the Creator of all there is, can a city in the ultimate future do so? Next month the book of Revelation will challenge our thinking and our ability to “imagine” an ultimate time when “the dwelling place of God is with man” (21:3).
Finally, let us consider what should “dwell” here and now! Paul told the Ephesians to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (3:16) and told the Colossians to let “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (3:16). May that be happening with all who read these words.