I confess I’ve often glazed over my fair share of Old Testament passages — and the first few chapters of 2 Chronicles, describing King Solomon’s temple in detail, were among those. But if one pays attention, chapters 2-6 paint a vivid picture of what must have been a true architectural marvel. Made with the finest wood, precious metals and textiles that the ancient world had to offer, Solomon’s temple took over seven years to complete.
But the beauty of this building paled in comparison to the “glory of the Lord” that filled it. It was so immense, powerful and spectacular that even the temple priests had to stop what they were doing. And this glimpse of God’s glory caused Solomon to ask, “Will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18).
It’s a truly remarkable statement coming from a man who laboured seven years to build a magnificent temple. It puts the glory and grandeur of God into perspective — the finest works of man are not worthy to contain Him.
But Solomon’s question is even more remarkable in light of John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory.” This time, the glory of God was not in a cloud, not in fire, and not housed in a grand temple. No, God Himself took on flesh — regular, frail flesh and blood — and became a human.
The finest works of man cannot contain the glory of God
Christ truly lived as one of us. He shared the frailties, joys and sorrows of mankind. And eventually, He humbled Himself to suffer perhaps the most humiliating and painful form of death devised by man. “Will God indeed dwell with men on the earth?” We can answer that question with a resounding, “yes!”
But not only did God dwell with men, He now dwells in those who accept His salvation. We, Christ’s people, are the new “temples”, the place where God’s glory is to be glimpsed on earth. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, whom “we have received from God”. And as we become more and more like Christ, the world around us should be able to get a taste of God’s glory, love and holiness.
Practically, this should leave us with both a sense of awe, gratitude and solemn responsibility. God chose to humble Himself and dwell among us. The finest cathedrals were not worthy of His Spirit, yet He chose to dwell within us.
There is nothing on earth we could accumulate or achieve that would give us more dignity and worth than this: we are temples of the Holy Spirit. And there is nothing that could be a more solemn calling, nothing more important than displaying His glory in our lives.
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