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 human soul in its better moments longs for the knowledge and the friendship of God; and to many a heart the question comes as it did to Solomon, "Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?" I understand this question to have its own answer, and that answer to be, "God will indeed, most assuredly, dwell with men on the earth."
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE WORDS WERE SPOKEN ARE FULL OF INTEREST.
II. IN THE WHOLE HISTORY OF REVELATION WE HAVE ANSWERS TO THIS QUESTION.
1. The context.
2. The Incarnation of Christ.
3. The effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
III. HOW CAN WE KNOW THAT GOD DWELLS WITH MEN?
1. We may know this, as a matter of reason, by what we perceive of wisdom and design in the material world.
2. We may know this from what we find in His Word, and in the events of history of the fulfilment of prophecy, showing that a governor must evidently be present carrying out His own great plans.
3. The consciousness of His spiritual presence with us as individuals.
IV. GOD DWELLING WITH US IS MARKED IN VARIOUS WAYS.
1. He who has God dwelling in him will manifest externally the Spirit of God. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.
2. We recognise God ofttimes in what we term special providences — the special care which He exercises over us. I know when I speak of a special providence there may be some who at once revert to the feint of universal and immutable law, and say, "May I expect the laws of nature to be changed for me?" I do not so understand the special providence of God. There is in this immutability of natural law a spiritual influence that is over and above and beyond all that law. The mountain may tremble; its fall is not suspended because I go by; but just before I come and the mountain is about to fall I may be led to think of gathering some beautiful flower, or turning aside to see some peculiar formation of rock, and I stop to examine, and the mountain falls. No violation of law, and yet I am saved. I am saved because God touches my heart, because the Spirit of God communicates with the heart of man. There is no conflict here, there need be none thought of. God's hand guides me safely through, by an influence simply on this heart of mine. And yet I may not be conscious of this influence. He leads me simply because He has me in His heart; He is dwelling with me; He knows all things and governs all things, and He knows how to guide me safely. Man is acted on in every part of his nature by the unseen. He steps off the roof of a house, and he will be dashed to pieces. What is it? A strange something you call gravitation, that holds him to the earth. This earth, the moon, the planets, we know, are so held; and yet no man ever saw the chain that binds the earth to the sun. If God binds every particle of matter in my body to the sun, the great centre a hundred millions of miles away, can He not bind my spirit to Himself? If the sun attracts every particle of matter in my frame, may not God attract me? Is there anything unreasonable here? Then, again, I go to the sea. I put my family on board the vessel. I am not at all disturbed; I know there may be storms; but the ship is staunch, and then the pilot knows where he is going. He is not going on rocks; the ocean has been sounded. He is not going to the wrong port; there is a needle in the compass that guides him. And what is that needle? A little piece of steel, that has no thought and no power of any kind, but it has been touched with a magnet, and now it turns northward. And relying on that which no man has ever seen, it sends its company safely across the sea. What is that power? It is invisible. And if God can touch a piece of steel that can neither see nor feel nor think, and it responds to the influence, may He not touch may mind, my soul, my thought, by His Holy Spirit, and make it respond to His mill? Is there anything unreasonable in it?
V. WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS THAT ARE TO FOLLOW FROM OUR RECOGNISING GOD AS DWELLING WITH MEN? The erection of churches. Public worship. Hearts divinely prepared to hear. Divinely inspired preachers.
(Bp. Matthew Simpson.)
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!