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2 Chronicles 6 v 18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?

Please read 2 Chronicles 6

On this first Lord’s Day of 2005 it is an opportunity to consider a text that can set the scene for the whole year.

We rejoiced this time last year in the thought of the great faithfulness of God – in a text from Lamentations 3 – and we dwelt upon the wonderful mercy of God to us – mercies that are new every morning. And I trust that we have been able to experience the mercy of our sovereign Lord God right through the year.

Today’s text is in the form of a question – and later in the sermon we will discover the answer to the question from another portion of scripture. Here is the question –

2 Chronicles 6 v 18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?

What a question this is! But who asked it? And when?

The people of Israel had gone for 400 years with only a tent as God’s dwelling place among them and the Lord God it seems had been satisfied with this. The Tabernacle erected in the wilderness, according to divine instructions, had served them very well as a housing for the Ark of the Covenant, containing the Ten Commandments on tables of stone, Aaron’s Rod and the casket of Manna from the wilderness wanderings.

It was sufficient not only for the 40 years in the desert, but also through the conquest in the days of Joshua and then during the 300 year period of the Judges.

It was not until King David was settled on the throne of Israel that a change came about. David decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant into his capital city and on to the traditional site of the sacrifice of a ram as a substitute for Isaac by his father Abraham centuries before. Mount Moriah is near to the Hill of Zion – in Jerusalem. We may remember the tragedy that occurred when the ark was transported the first time – and did not reach its destinations – because it had not been transported according to God’s prescription – and a man called Uzzah died in the process. Yet David persisted and a tabernacle was eventually established at the worship centre in Jerusalem. King David however desired something more permanent! Israel under his leadership had found prosperity and security – no longer would they wander – they were permanent residents in Israel with Jerusalem the capital. David began to make plans.

2 Samuel 7 v 4 the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying, 5 Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? 6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. 7 In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?

The plan was for a Temple! And when it seemed the right time to have a Temple we find that the Lord God Himself wanted to have a say as to the kind of building it should be. And the Lord God gave the plans to David in His own handwriting. This we find in 1 Chronicles 28 v 19

All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.

Just as God had shown Moses what to do in the building of the Tabernacle –

Exodus 25 v 9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

So a Temple was to be constructed. In 1 Chronicles 22 we find David’s words about this proposed Temple –

5 And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death.

From this text we see that David had wanted to build the temple himself, yet he was only permitted to PREPARE for it. It was forbidden for him to build it because he was a man of war –

1 Chronicles 22 v 8 But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. 9 Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. 10 He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.

The Sovereign Lord had helped David in his wars. But it seems that the Lord did not think it best for a man of war to be the builder of God’s house. The reason for this was that subdued nations may have felt bitter towards God, the God of Israel. It was after all God’s purpose to win other nations to himself through His own nation.

The temple was built of great stones – of cedar beams provided by King Hiram of Tyre – and cedar boards overlaid with gold. The cost by today’s standards is estimated to have been in the region of 10 billion pounds. Gold, silver and precious stones were incorporated into the design. It was without doubt the most magnificent and costly building on earth at the time.

The Temple was built after the general plan of the Tabernacle every part was twice the size of the original. It faced east and its detailed descriptions can be found in 1 Kings 6 and 7 and their parallel passages in Chronicles. Indeed it was magnificent! It was built by 30,000 Israelites and 150,000 Canaanites. It took 7 years to build and every part was constructed and prepared some distance from the Temple site so that no sound of a hammer or any tool could be heard there. It stood for 400 years before the Babylonians pulled it to pieces and left it in ruins. Israel’s glory turned to Israel’s shame.

But we are interested in the dedication of the Temple where it was first put to use. Our text appears in the account of the ceremony that brought the dedication about, which was led by the Godly King who oversaw its building – Solomon.

2 Chronicles 5 and 6 records Solomon’s consecration ceremony and his prayer. The sense of occasion must not be underestimated.

2 Chronicles 5 v 13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;

– As the praise sounded out the Lord came down and filled the house with a cloud! The presence of God brought the priests to their knees – they could not stand! The glory of the Lord filled the Temple.

What must it have been like! We can only imagine! Moments like this don’t happen very often!

Then Solomon begins to speak – v 1.

It was a speech first and the recorder of the event gets to verse 11 and pauses and tells us more about the scene – Solomon STOOD before the altar of the Lord. The congregation were looking at him – their King.

He spread out his hands towards heaven. And then we are told that Solomon had constructed a platform on a bronze scaffold about five feet high in the centre of the court before the altar. The congregation surrounded him so all could see and hear his words. For the beginning of speech he had stood – now he goes down on his knees in prayer, publicly, still extending his arms towards heaven. And he began to pray – v 14 ff. He spoke of the exclusive nature of God – no one like him in the universe.

God is a covenant keeping God.

God is a merciful God to those who walk wholeheartedly before Him.

God is a promise keeping God – God is a Divine person of His word always keeping it.

God is a God who fulfils His word – and the proof was that the temple had been built and that God had come down in the cloud at its dedication!

Then in verse 16 Solomon begins his petition – Please Keep thy promise to David my father – to keep a man on the throne of Israel his people. And let us have assurance of it – let it be verified somehow so that we will know for sure that the promise would be kept.

How weak we human beings are – that we seem to need such assurances that God will do what He has said He will do! Some people are very anxious and need constant reassurance.

Once a Christian professor at a University heard of the conversion of a brilliant student in the College. He arranged for a private meeting with the outstanding student.

After an earnest conversation about the Saviour the student asked the professor “Is Jesus Christ ‘real’ to you? Please don't give me a theoretical or theological answer.”

Tears came to the professor’s eyes as he replied, “Young man, Jesus Christ is more real to me than the skin that covers my bones!”

Yet we as believers in Christ often find ourselves incredulous – we want God to send us tokens of proof that He will keep His word. We find it hard to believe sometimes that God determines to bless His people. That He has it in His mind to be kind and tender and compassionate to the people whom He has loved from the foundation of the world! We come to Him asking again and again to tell us again that He loves us! That He has forgiven and pardoned us! That He means us to receive blessing upon blessing.

Solomon the praying King prays, “let us have some token of thine intention to bless us thy people.”

And then he asks his question –

18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?

For God Himself to come and dwell with men on earth – now that would be a token of great assurance!

Solomon had the cloud. Solomon had the felt presence of the invisible God. Solomon was blessed by God’s wonderful visitation. But he was asking for more! He was asking if God would come physically and emotionally and morally and actually come Himself to earth and live amongst His people!

Surrounding this request we can notice several doctrinal truths that we can briefly mention for our profit.

1. God is incomparably perfect!

14 And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:

There is none among the angels in heaven, nor among kings and presidents on earth, there is no one like the Lord God Almighty.

Allah is not God! Krishna is not God. Buddha is not God! Materialism is not God; and self is not God. These are man’s own concepts of God – but they are false – and are inspired by the one who is called the God of this world – Satan – God’s enemy.

There has only ever been one God! There will never ever be any other true God than the God of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac and all the faithful believers in the Lord Jesus Christ – who Himself is the incarnate God of all!

He is incomparably unique!

O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth;

2. God will be true to every word that he has spoken.

15 Thou which hast kept with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him; and spakest with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.

God kept His promise with regard to Solomon Himself – seeing he was David’s son;

God always keeps His promises.

3. That God is a Being who is Infinite and immense.

Second part of verse 18

behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!

The Almighty God cannot be contained in one temple in Jerusalem. Our God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient – all powerful, present everywhere and all knowing. Nothing is too big for our God to accomplish – and nothing is too little for Him to use in accomplishing His sovereign will. Sometimes our God is too small – we confine him to sections of our lives and environment and attempt to keep him out of the rest – that we keep to ourselves. We cannot do that my friends! God is the greatest being to exist. Men think that they are great – but they are not!

In 1715 King Louis XIV of France died after a reign of 72 years. He had called himself “the Great,” and was the monarch who made the famous statement, “I am the state!” His court was the most magnificent in Europe, and his funeral was equally spectacular. As his body lay in state in a golden coffin, orders were given that the cathedral should be very dimly lit with only a special candle set above his coffin, to dramatize his greatness. At the memorial, thousands waited in hushed silence. Then Bishop Massilon began to speak; slowly reaching down, he snuffed out the candle and said, “Only God is great.”

Heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain the Great God Jehovah!

4. God knows the hearts of all human beings.

30 Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)

Solomon was aware of God’s knowledge of him – the King of Israel. He was humble enough to kneel before God, and to kneel before his people, and to admit his smallness before God. His status as sovereign did not make him proud or arrogant. Surrender was his attitude, the God of all knowledge.

We should know the same my friends at the beginning of this New Year. We should know how small we are, how great God is, and how perfect His knowledge of us is. We can hide nothing from Him – especially not our sins – and it is because he knows our sins that He can deal with them in forgiveness. The Lord knew for whom and for what He was dying as he hung on the cross at Calvary.

So Solomon makes these superb statements – yet still comes the question –

18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?

Why did the King ask this question? What was the hope that Solomon seemed to have?

Was it that he or his sons and descendants would be blessed by God being gracious enough to come to dwell with them not only in a cloud, but in some bodily form?

There must have been something of this in his thinking.

If we consider the ancient promise in the garden of Genesis 3 v 15 there is a clue for us to understand Solomon’s thoughts.

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

A seed is a person not a cloud. A woman’s seed is a human being. Will God truly – in very deed, come and live in person among men?

What would God want in coming to earth, to this fallen ruined world for? Why bother with sinners like you and me? Why come to be polluted by us and our society? Should God not steer clear of this corrupt and wicked place?

Thank God He did none of those things – but He came – to Bethlehem, to Palestine, to bring peace with God, to bring reconciliation between Jehovah and man, to be a perfect mediator between us and God. He experienced human-ness and suffered as a man to pay a perfect price.

So the answer to Solomon’s question is indeed in the scriptures – and we find it in Matthew 1 v 23

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

What a wonderful word – Emmanuel – God with us! God DID in indeed come to dwell to dwell with men on the earth.

1. IMMANUEL – HE CAME TO BE LIKE US.

Similar to us – yet without sin.

2. IMMANUEL – HE CAME TO BE AMONG US

Our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. IMMANUEL – HE CAME FOR US

He came as a substitute for our sins dying on the cross.

4. IMMANUEL – HE CAME ON BEHALF OF US

He will appear for us, if we believe, at the Day of Judgement.

5. IMMANUEL – HE CAME TO LIVE IN US

In the person of His Holy SPIRIT

Colossians 1 v 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

The answer to Godly King Solomon’s prayer was this – a son shall be born – His name shall be Emmanuel – God with us.

And how does He dwell with us?

1. He dwelt with us when He came in the incarnation.

The Lord Jesus Christ tabernacled amongst men in human nature – yet without ever sinning.

John 2 v 9 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

Colossians 2 v 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

John 1 v 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The Lord Jesus Christ came as a child to Bethlehem – as a man to Nazareth – as a Saviour and sin bearer to Calvary and as a mighty King to rise again.

2. He dwells with us in our worship as believers

– He inhabits our praises.

3. He dwells with us in our hearts by His Holy Spirit.

4. And He will dwell with us in heaven for ever.

But before that and more than this He will COME AS JUDGE one day.

And today at the beginning of this year of Grace – 2005 – we need to be able to say that we are ready for this judgement. All those things are true that we have said about Immanuel – God kept His word – sent His son – and provided salvation for those who would repent and believe.

Will you be one of those this morning my friend?

Perhaps you have never seen it before – but now you do! Don’t then delay in coming to Christ and placing your life in His hands! The Lord God when he converts a soul comes to dwell within that soul and transforms everything!

18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?

Yes indeed He will – yes indeed He has. Yes indeed He does – and if He is not living with you as you live here on earth – he will not dwell with you in eternity – now is the day of salvation – while in this life! May God grant it to be somebody here this morning!



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