Apart from noticing the amazing miracle of the countryside springing into life all around me, I have also been aware of something else that is springing up all around us, and that is new housing developments. Having a home is so important, and as we know homelessness is a big issue in our modern society, but all over the world whatever it looks like, all human beings like to make home.
We all have different ideas about what home should look like but the word ‘home’ conjures up for me a place of comfort, safety and relaxation. Home is a place where we can be ourselves, put our slippers on and feel settled. It’s interesting that historically places where people lived were called ‘settlements’, quite the opposite to being nomadic and rootless. I think it is just that sense of comfortableness and settledness, that is expressed in the word ‘dwell’ that is used about God, particularly in the Authorised version of the Bible. God too it seems wants to have a place to ‘dwell’.
One of the amazing, but rather odd, things about the story of God and His people, written down for us in the Bible, is this issue of where God can ‘dwell’? I say odd because of course if God made it all – heaven and earth and the whole universe- having a place to ‘dwell’ shouldn’t be a problem. The trouble is of course that God can’t really ‘dwell’ with sinful man, as we saw when Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden. So throughout their history the God fearing leaders of Israel have been preoccupied with ‘where will God dwell?’ We want Him with us, not just visiting, so we need a special place.
God gave wonderful instructions to Moses as to how to build the Tabernacle, a word meaning to ‘dwell temporarily’. It was the place where Moses met with God, and they set it up and carried it very carefully through the wilderness and kept it after they were in the Promised Land until David had an idea. It was to build God a permanent house, which his son Solomon implemented and completed during his reign.
Clearly Solomon understood the magnificence and splendour of His God when he said at the dedication on the Temple ‘But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built?’ 1 Kings 8:27. And yet even as they dedicated it God spoke to them and said that if they went after other Gods He would cut off the Temple ‘and all who pass it by will scoff ‘ 1 Kings 9: 7,8.
How they lived and served Him was always going to be more important to God than what Solomon had built, and both the first and the second Temple were in fact destroyed. God had however prepared them for something amazing, and through a prophet He had given an indication of what was to come. ‘Shout and be glad O daughter of Zion. For I am coming and I will live among you. Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and become my people.’ Zechariah 2:10,11
God’s desire right since the beginning and the Garden of Eden, was to ‘dwell’ with His created beings, and it was going to be fulfilled, not by having another building, but by coming and living in us His people. King Hezekiah prayed and said ‘You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth’, 2 Kings19:15 and now the plan is to come and to ‘dwell’ not in a splendid temple or palace, but ‘with us’. Wow!!
Paul wrote to some early Christians ‘You are the temple of the living God’; (and added, quoting the prophet Ezekiel 37:27) God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people’. 2 Corinthians 6:16. Then at the end of the bible John records those words that he heard from heaven ‘He will dwell with them and they shall be His people and God Himself will be with them, and be their God’. Revelation 21:3.
So today, let us thank God for His incredible plan of Salvation that He would come and ‘dwell’ with us, make His home with us. Let us thank Him as we agree with Paul ‘that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith’. Ephesians 3:17.