United Church of God

Letter From William Bradford - September 15, 2023

Letter From William Bradford

September 15, 2023

Will God Indeed Dwell on Earth?

After seven years of construction on the temple, King Solomon posed a question at the temple's dedication.

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!  (1 Kings 8:27, NKJV)

The temple, described in 1 Chronicles 29:1-9, was truly astonishing. Based on the amount of gold, silver, bronze and precious stones that were included in the building, the cost of constructing such a temple today would be trillions of dollars for materials alone.  Even with the temple's magnificent grandeur, Solomon asked a profound question: if the vast universe, with one estimate of over 200 billion trillion stars1, cannot contain God, will God dwell on earth?

It is an amazing fact that God will indeed dwell on earth! The Bible repeatedly states that God's desire is to dwell with his holy children, and this has been His intent from the very beginning.

I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God.  And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.   (Exodus 29:45-46, NKJV)

God's presence or glory was in the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex 40:34). It was also present in the temple Solomon built (2 Ch 7:1). Interestingly, the scriptures also establish that those granted God's Holy Spirit are considered God's temple. It means that God himself dwells within them.

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God."   (2 Cor 6:16, NKJV)

Those who live by God's Word with God's Spirit are the temple of the living God.  We are still in the flesh, we are not perfect, however, through the blood of Jesus, we can ask for repentance and be cleansed from sin.  This allows us to be viewed by God as a holy temple in which God can indeed dwell through His Spirit.  However, we should never have a relaxed perspective on this great blessing.  God showed Ezekiel that He was going far away from His sanctuary because of people's ongoing abominations.

Furthermore, He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary?  (Ez 8:6a, NKJV)

The lesson from Ezekiel's vision encourages us to continue to be a temple in which God is pleased to dwell. We gain a deeper understanding of how this happens through the prophetic words of Ezekiel, and God provides an encouraging promise about dwelling in His holy people in the future.

Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20, NKJV)

God has granted us His Spirit so we can begin to live by every word of God and be part of the spiritual temple that God is building.

What a blessing! 

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5, NKJV)

The end of Revelation provides a glimpse into the future and gives an answer to Solomon's question.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God."  (Revelation 21:3, NKJV)

Solomon asked, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth"?  The answer to this question is probably more incredible than Solomon could have ever comprehended. We are truly blessed to understand the answer, that God has a wonderful plan to dwell on earth with His people.  Let us strive for perfection by walking in the Spirit and being the temple of God.

Have a very blessed Feast of Trumpets, the fourth holy convocation of the year that pictures the pivotal event of Christ's return to the earth, a key step in the fulfillment of God dwelling on earth with His people.

And may you also have a very spiritually enriching Sabbath, and as Peter writes, may grace and peace to you be multiplied.

1 https://www.astronomy.com/science/astro-for-kids-how-many-stars-are-there-in-space/