1 Kings 8:27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
I well remember when I used this Scripture in doing a dedication ceremony for the chapel at the “wedding palace” where I do weddings. I think I shocked the CEO by making him vow that the chapel would never be used for anything that would dishonor the name of Christ! I can’t be sure that vow has been kept, but I’ve been doing weddings there now for over 30 years. This prayer in general is notable for having a much higher conception of God than many of Solomon’s ancestors seemed to have. Solomon is clear that what would reside in the physical building would be the name of the Lord, and not He Himself. That made this the definitive Temple of Yahweh, and there was no other. It was only after Pentecost, with the Holy Spirit poured out on many believers, that people really came around to understand the omnipresence of God, and that, as Paul said, we ourselves are His temple. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 the inference seems to be that the Church, that is, the Body of believers, is the temple, but in 6:19 of the same letter Paul states explicitly that the physical body of each believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit. That takes Solomon’s prayer to a dimension he probably never imagined! The difficulty for us today is really grasping what all this means. It’s not just a figment of Paul’s imagination, because Jesus talked extensively in the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17) about being in us and us being in Him. Going back to Solomon’s prayer, isn’t that the definition of a temple, a residence for deity? At the very least, the name of the Son of God is on everyone who is called a Christian. Frankly, not all are worthy of it, and we all tend to dishonor that name at moments, but that’s what it’s all about. We tend to associate “church” with a physical building, just like Solomon’s physical temple, but just like Solomon said, God can’t be limited to such things. Our physical buildings should indeed be consecrated by consistent, genuine prayer and worship, but we must never limit our concept of God to physical locations.
This is an understanding I came to fairly early, I think, but I find the majority of people I deal with don’t have this clearly in mind. It is certainly true that God does manifest His presence in distinct ways at certain times and places, and we aren’t to discount that. People who enter our building here do seem to feel something, and we occasionally have people show up just because they want to pray in a place where they feel they will be heard. I am to remember that God is indeed everywhere, but at the same time seek to be a carrier of His presence so that people are more aware of Him when I am there. That might seem like conceit, but I have met people who were like that, and that’s how I want to be. I certainly can’t do it in my own wisdom and strength! I want to be such a clear witness (Acts 1:8) that people will be drawn to repentance and faith just by knowing me, for their salvation and God’s glory.
Father, thank You for the privilege of acting as Your temple, Your residence. I pray that I would be more and more consistent, more and more effective in doing that, so that You will be totally free to make any “home improvements” You want to, making me more and more comfortable and useful to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!