A few days ago, I was discussing events that happened while Solomon was dedicating the Temple. This is found in the eighth chapter of I Kings. I was discussing how Solomon recognized that Yahweh was indeed faithful and strong, as long as His people remained loving and faithful to Him. Well, Solomon also asked the Lord to keep a promise that could only have been played out over centuries. What I am referring to is that Yehoveh would maintain a descendant of David on the throne of Israel at all times. Now that did not mean that a descendant of David who was doing something (or things) wrong would not be removed (and many were). And if you think of it, Solomon had all kinds of children, and they establish several branches of their family tree. All of them could legitimately stake a claim as being a blood descendant of King David. So there would be all kinds of men legally eligible to take the throne over the coming centuries; Yahweh’s promise was not limited to just one specific descendant.
Then, the twenty-seventh verse opens up a conundrum that every Christian wrestles with. Solomon says, “God, on the one hand, you say you dwell in the Temple on Mt. Moriah; and yet on the other hand you live in heaven. In fact, just thinking about you dwelling in a heavenly Temple misses the mark because you are so magnificent and limitless that even heaven couldn’t be sufficient to hold you. So how, exactly, O Lord, am I to understand your “dwelling in this Temple” in Jerusalem when there is no way a human can conceptualize.
There are some God-principles alluded to here that I want to touch on. The first is the idea of omnipresence. Solomon recognizes that God is not a man who, because of being trapped in a physical body and in a physical sphere of space-time, can only be in one place at one time. God is everywhere at once. God doesn’t pack His bags and travel down from heaven in order to visit the Temple on occasions as if He was taking a vacation from his throne in heaven for a time.
Let’s be honest, those of us who are followers of Jesus struggle with this one. We believe that our God is quite literally present with us, dwelling in us, but then, we realize that the “us” consists of millions of people spread throughout the world, each one of them having as much of “God” in them as any other. Not only that, we know that He also lives in heaven! What’s going on? I mean, even the Lord’s Prayer says, “Our Father who art” . . . where? . . . “in heaven.” Then, to make it even more confusing, Christ was God on earth for a time; so does that mean that God moved? And if God relocated to earth, then who was Jesus praying to all the time? Did a part of God come down to earth and become Yeshua, and, therefore, an incomplete God remained in heaven?
Look, I know I am not the only one who has tried to wrestle this one out. This is what Solomon was expressing in his prayer to Yehoveh. “Lord, I know you are present (goodness, your cloud of glory just chased my priests right out of the Temple!), I just don’t understand how you are present and what that means. But with all that said, you have told me, Lord, unequivocally that you will dwell in this Temple. So despite the fact that my mind cannot wrap around how this can be, and why you would even agree to live in such a lowly structure, I accept that it is true.”
So, Solomon says that based on faith and trust, and not his own understanding, he is going to direct his prayers and the prayers of his people Israel towards the Temple; that conduit of communication and meeting between man and God. And despite his ignorance in verse twenty-eight, all Solomon asks is that Yahweh would choose to hear the prayers of his servant. The word used for asking God to hear is shema, and it doesn’t mean to just passively listen and commiserate, but to act.
My point in all this is that we do not have to (and probably never will) understand how or even why our Father has chosen to dwell in these corrupt Temples that we call our bodies — or for that matter, any aspect of our faith! Nor do we have to question or understand how He can be present with all Believers, everywhere, simultaneously, and, at the same time, be in heaven (or everywhere else He chooses). Our responsibility is to merely use these fleshly Temples as the place we present our prayers; we use them as the place of meeting between us and God. And understand this, it is not because we chose it to be like this, or are able in our own will to make it so; but simply because the Lord did. So now, we must believe Him and act on that belief.
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With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.