By Ryan Diaz
The story of Scripture begins with the presence of God hovering over the waters, His very life-giving presence permeating the shapeless void. Then after His life-giving word calls creation into order, God can be found walking through the garden of Eden in the cool of the day. The biblical story has always been about God’s presence and His desire to dwell among His creation. From Genesis to Revelation, we see an infinite God condescending to time and space, desiring to live alongside those He has created and to be their source of light and life.
In 2 Chronicles, God comes to dwell among His covenant people, this time dwelling within the temple atop Mount Zion in Jerusalem. God’s glory descends and fills the temple with holy fire. God is among His people, but unlike the garden, they cannot enter His presence. He is near yet distant, a barrier of holy fire between the people and His presence, the flaming sword once again guarding the entrance to the garden.
While God desires to dwell with humankind, people, being sinful, cannot dwell in the presence of a holy God. The temple, for all its grandeur, was a stop-gap, a temporary measure. It wasn’t enough for God to be near His people. He wanted to be in and among His people, as He was in the beginning when He walked with the man and woman in the garden.
Solomon’s temple was temporary, and if God were going to truly dwell among His creation, He would need more than cedar and gold. He would need to fashion a temple, a space where He would not only be near His people but among them, once again, walking and talking with them in the cool of the day.
In place of a building,God chose to build His new covenant in the hearts of believers. In Jesus, the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and as the God-man, He once again found Himself among His creation, bridging the gap the temple could only hint at. Humanity could never make its way to God, so instead, God came to us.
Now, by His Holy Spirit, God dwells in the hearts of humanity. Like the temple, we are set apart as holy spaces for the very presence of God.