2 Chronicles 6:18
But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you…
The whole Jewish dispensation was typical. Everywhere throughout the system things seen and temporal were employed as premonitory emblems of things not seen and eternal. It thus foreshadowed coming revelations at once by events, by offices, and by rites. The offices of the high priest, prophets, judges, and kings, with the extraordinary powers attached to them, all foretold the supreme authority of that Saviour in whom they terminated. And, as regards, finally, prefigurative rites, I need point only to the countless sacrifices which exhibited, by anticipation, Jesus, our passover, sacrificed for us.
I. WE ARE TO INQUIRE WHAT IS IMPLIED IN GOD DWELLING WITH MEN.
1. The language is expressive of loving fellowship. When we traverse a country, and amid the rivers, and forests, and mountains, of the landscape, descry a human dwelling, we spontaneously ascribe reciprocal affection to its inmates, a harmony far more beautiful than that of Nature's scenery by which it is surrounded. Besides, though one may dwell with another whom he disregards or even hates, because separation is not practicable or not convenient in the circumstances, it cannot be so with God, who is infinitely superior to all such restraints. When He takes up His abode with any, it must be in affection; for in all He does He consults exclusively His own good pleasure. The capacity in which He dwells with His people is that of a Father; and where He occupies this footing He will entertain its sympathies regarding those with whom He associates with more than the tenderness of paternal endearment
2. This phraseology is expressive of intimate fellowship. Now, affection necessarily prompts to fellowship. The objects of complacent regard engage the outgoings of the loving mind, and heart unbosoms itself to heart with freedom and confidence. Unless, then, God revealed Himself graciously to us, and heard our supplications to Him, and all this not coldly and formally, but kindly and familiarly, the language of the text would be inappropriate, and He could not be said to dwell with men on the earth.
3. The language is expressive of prolonged fellowship. A passing interview does not constitute dwelling. The designation is not applied even to frequent visits. And so for God to dwell with us is to be with us not now and then merely, but always — in the day to direct our steps, in the night to guard our slumbers, in prosperity to dispel forgetfulness, and in distress to avert despair — when youth impels and manhood invigorates and age enfeebles.
II. THE APPARENT UNLIKELIHOOD OF GOD THUS DWELLING WITH MEN.
1. Men are insignificant before God. Viewed relatively to fellow-creatures, the human race occupies an elevated position in the scale of being. But all this elevation vanishes when we think of God. If we were to compare God and men by comparing their works, we would not easily find any accomplishment more commendatory of human resources than this same temple of Solomon, in all its magnificence and splendour. And whence, then, were its materials drawn? They were brought from the storehouses of Jehovah. He furnished every stone and timber; and if He had not they might have sought for them in vain. All the elements of this edifice they received from God — and whence did He derive them? He called them out of nothingness. Again, how many were engaged in building this temple? We learn from Scripture that there were about a hundred and eighty three thousand six hundred men. But where were these when God laid the foundations of the earth? Once more, how long was this temple in being built? After every stone was hewn and ready for its place seven years were still occupied, as we learn from Scripture, in rearing and finishing the sacred fabric. The period may have been requisite for the performance in the hands of feeble man; but, oh! how different from the achievements of Him whose mightiest deed follows instant on His word — "who says, and it is done — commands, and it stands fast"! But, finally, what were the dimensions of that erection on which the skill and toil of such vast multitudes were so long expended? Compared with the neighbouring dwellings of Jacob, it would, doubtless, appear vast and majestic. But measure the width of it, and say if it be as broad as the earth: stretch a line to its loftiest summit, and say if it be high as heaven. What proportion bears this capacious abode to the temple of the visible creation? As man enters its gates he seems, beside its massive pillars, and under its exalted canopy, to sink into less than his usual littleness. But think of placing God in it, and how diminutive it appears!
2. On the wickedness of men. And, after all, shall He love these persons? What can He love in them?
III. That, unlikely as it may seem, in some views, GOD WILLS TO DWELL WITH MEN ON THE EARTH.
1. God has dwelt with men in the person of Christ.
2. God dwells with men by the mission of His Spirit.
Parallel VersesKJV: But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!