Isaiah 66:1

This passage should be associated with that second temple which was raised by the returned captives from Babylon, at the direction of Ezra and Nehemiah, and under the inspirations of the prophets Isaiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. A subtle peril lies in building any house for God. That peril lay in the building of the first house. It still lies in the erection of every new house. It is the danger of thereby limiting and materializing our idea of God. If, in our thought, God actually comes to dwell in any earthly temple, we limit the infinite; we lose that wide, sublime, spiritual, unnameable glory that properly belongs to the Deity. We are in danger of making him take a place among the idol-gods who are attached to a certain mountain, or stream, or wind, or country, or shrine. To this peril the people were exposed who watched the second temple arise from amidst the ruins of the first. Though cured of their idolatries by their sufferings in Babylon, they yet might fail to retain those nobler thoughts of God which were the treasure of their race. Therefore Isaiah pleads with them as in this text.

I. GOD REVEALING HIMSELF. By the aid of outward, sensible figures God discloses his spiritual nature, his moral attributes, his character. "The heaven is my throne, the earth is my footstool." We are bidden to look for help towards realizing God from the great, the solemnizing things of nature. All creation with which we have to do was made to serve the moral and spiritual culture of God's reasoning and free creatures. Everywhere around us things are full of God. They are pictures, illustrations, words, suggestions, of the Divine. The great, the majestic, the oppressive, is around us. The noonday sky, with its serene height of blue; the midnight sky, with its myriad worlds crowding the infinite depths; mountains rising to pierce the clouds, or hanging in frowning precipice; the great floods of water rolling in their ceaseless tides: - all compel us to say, "How marvellous are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy greatness." One instance, illustrating the figure "Heaven is my throne," may be given. A star in the far depths attracted the attention of an observer. it seemed to be a single star, but to his educated eye it resolved itself into two stars. Those two proved to be each a star, centre of a planetary system like our own. Those two stars, which seemed but one, were really distant from each other five hundred times the distance separating our earth and the sun. Who of us can conceive such sublime spaces as are thus unfolded? What must he be who walketh among the shining lights, whose throne rises higher than these stars, whose canopy is gemmed with myriad suns! And if the telescope can put such meaning into the figure of the heavens, the microscope puts equal meaning into the figure of the earth. God needs this whole earth for a" footstool." This great earth, with its giant trees, and inaccessible mountains, and unfathomable waters, and millionfold forms of life, cannot hold God; it is but a resting-place for his foot.

II. GOD APPEALING TO MAN TO FIND HIM REST. "Where is the place of my rest?' We should not have dared to represent God as seeking rest. The marvel of his condescension is, that he does need his creatures, and even seeks his rest in them. If God were only the embodiment of wisdom, greatness, and power, then his rest might be found in some of the everlasting hills. But every being seeks rest according to his spiritual nature, his character. The infinitely pure One can only seek rest in goodness. The infinitely condescending One seeks rest in humility. The infinitely loving One seeks rest in love. The eternal Father finds his satisfaction in his sons and his daughters.

III. MAN VAINLY OFFERING GOD REST IN THINGS. The first shrine for human worship was the open firmament of heaven. It was the only worthy one. The only befitting walls were the distant horizon and the eternal hills; the only suitable roof was the illimitable sky. Yet, from the first of human sin, this temple has proved too vast, too glorious, for man to use. So he has planted groves to circle God to a space; and consecrated mountain-peaks to fix God to a point; and built temples and churches to narrow the Infinite to human grasp. Too often man has offered his temples as an act of sacrifice. He has given them to God in the vain hope that, satisfied with them, God would cease to ask for higher and holier things. We, indeed, in these days, flood no altars with the blood of sacrifices, yet do we not think to offer God rest in the beauty of our churches and the charm of our services? Are we not, even under this spiritual dispensation, offering God things instead of persons? And yet even we men cannot be satisfied with things; then how can we expect our God to be? Our hearts cannot rest in the artistic fittings of our dwellings, the creations of genius, or the associations of culture. We want love; we must have persons. Lord Lytton expresses our deepest feeling thus -

"O near ones, dear ones! you in whose right hands
Our own rests calm; whose faithful hearts all day
Wide open wait till back from distant lands,
Thought, the tired traveller, wends his homeward way!

"Helpmates and hearthmates, gladdeners of gone years,
Tender companions of our serious days,
Who colour with your kisses, smiles, and tears,
Life's warm web woven over wonted ways.

"Oh, shut the world out from the heart ye cheer!
Though small the circle of your smiles may be,
The world is distant, and your smiles are near,
This makes you more than all the world to me." We are "the figures of the true:" shadows in our feeling of the feeling of God. He, too, puts aside all the things we offer him, be they temple, or gold, or work, and persuasively pleads thus with us, "My son, give me thy heart." We may give him our things, if we have given him ourselves. Things dead cannot please him. Things alive with holy love, quickened by the humble, contrite, thankful heart, may find for him the rest he seeks. We may give him our buildings when they are alive with the spirit of consecration, our services when they are filled with the spirit of reverential worship, our works when they are animated with gratitude and devotion. Of the living temple he will say, "This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread."

IV. MAN SUCCESSFULLY OFFERING GOD REST IN HIMSELF - IN THE POOR AND CONTRITE HEART. The one thing towards which we must think God is ever moving, ever working, by creation, by gracious providences, by the mission of his Son, is to sway the heart of man towards himself, and constrain him voluntarily to say, "This God is our God for ever and ever." But it is only the man of poor and contrite spirit who will ever thus turn to God, and give himself over to him. Bruised and broken, in the sense of our ingratitude and sin, penitent and contrite alone, shall we ever be found willing to turn our faces towards our Father. We can give God nothing. We can bring him just our consciously unfaithful and sinful selves. A man can come, unreservedly exposing his whole heart to the eye of God. He can say, "Slay me, O God, if thou wilt; I deserve it. I am miserable, but leave me not sinful thus. Put me to shame; I am shameful. Behold! I hide nothing. Thou art Light; expose my darkness. I will not palliate. I am worse than I know. Show me all that I am. I cannot heal myself. If I must die, I will die in thy light." "In this lies the simplicity of faith. He has trusted himself to the Judge of all the earth; he has abandoned all self-justification; his heart is broken, and is ready to welcome mercy undeserved. Guilelessness (the contrite, humble heart) is the whole secret of Divine peace." - R.T.

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne.
he apostates: — This chapter continues the antithesis that runs through chap. 65., carrying it onward to its eschatological issues. The connection of ideas is frequently extremely difficult to trace, and no two cities are agreed as to where the different sections begin and end.

(Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)

Hitzig thinks (and with him Knobel, Hendewerk) that the author here begins quite abruptly to oppose the purpose of building a temple to Jehovah; the builders are those who meditated remaining behind in Chaldea, and wished also to have a temple, as the Jews in Egypt, at a later time, built one in Leontopolis.

(F. Delitzsch, D. D.)

The address, directed to the entire body ready to return, says without distinction that Jehovah, the Creator of heaven and earth, needs no house made by men's hands; then in the entire body distinguishes between the penitent and those alienated from God, rejects all worship and offering at the hand of the latter, and threatens them with just retribution.

(F. Delitzsch, D. D.)

[These great words] are a declaration, spoken probably in view of the approaching restoration of the temple (which, in itself, the prophet entirely approves, Isaiah 44:28, and expects, Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 55:7; Isaiah 62:9), reminding the Jews of the truth which a visible temple might readily lead them to forget, that no earthly habitation could be really adequate to Jehovah's majesty, and that Jehovah's regard was not to be won by the magnificence of a material temple, but by humility and the devotion of the heart. How needful the warning was history shows. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:1-15) argues at length against those who pointed, with a proud sense of assurance, to the massive pile of buildings that crowned the height of Zion, heedless of the moral duties which loyalty to the King, whose residence it was, implied. And at a yet more critical moment in their history, attachment to the temple, as such, was one of the causes which incapacitated the Jews from appropriating the more spiritual teaching of Christ: the charge brought against Stephen (Acts 6:13, 14)is that he ceased not "to speak words against this holy place and the law;" and, the argument of Stephen's defence (Acts 7.) is just to show that in the past God's favour had not been limited to the period during which the temple of Zion existed. Here, then, the prophet seizes the occasion to insist upon the necessity of a spiritual service, passing on (vers. 3-5) to denounce, in particular, certain superstitious usages which had apparently, at the time, infected the worship of Jehovah.

(Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

The Thinker.
1. The tendency to make religion consist in external actions, apart from the inward dispositions which should accompany them, is very common. The reason for this is discovered from the fact that outward actions are easier than inward. It is easier, for instance, to become outwardly poor than to become poor in spirit; easier to adore with the body than to worship with the soul. The tendency is observable in all dispensations. For instance, whatever other differences there may have been between the sacrifices of Cain and Abel, we are expressly told that it was "by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice ' (Hebrews 11:4). The outward act was linked with the right inward disposition. So, again, in the time of the Levitical Law, the tendency often manifested itself to put ceremonial above moral obligations (Psalm 1.). And Isaiah, in his first chapter (vers. 11-18), shows how an outward service, without the putting away of evil, is an abomination to God. In the same way our Lord condemned the Pharisees (Matthew 15:8).

2. This closing prophecy of Isaiah seems to contain a warning against formalism. It is not that the outward is unimportant, for this would be to run from one extreme to the other, but that the outward will not avail. The return of Israel from captivity will be followed by the building of a new temple, as the event has shown; and the warning of the text is twofold — one, to remind the Israelites that Jehovah had no need of a temple; the other, to impress them with a truth they were very apt to forget, that religion must be a matter of the heart.

I. A REVELATION OF GOD. "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool."

1. These words, or the substance of them, are again and again repeated in Holy Scripture (1 Kings 8:27; Matthew 5:34; Acts 7:49). Repetitions in the Bible show the importance of a truth, or our difficulty in remembering it.

2. What is the truth? That God is incomprehensible. He is everywhere and cannot be localized (Jeremiah 23:24). There is nowhere where Cod's power and essence and presence do not reach. He knows no limit of space or time, of knowledge or love.

II. THE REFERENCE TO THE EXTERNAL TEMPLE. "Where is the house that ye build unto Me?"

1. These words are not intended to deter Israel from building a material temple when they had returned to their own land. The prophet would be contradicting himself (Isaiah 56:5-7; Isaiah 60:7); and he would be running counter to the solemn injunctions of other prophets, such as Haggai and Zechariah, who were in part raised up by God to further the work of building the temple. What the words are intended to rebuke is the falseness of the ideas that God requires a temple, and that His presence can be restricted to its walls. God does not need a temple, but we do. In heaven there will be no necessity for any temple (Revelation 21:22), where the glory of God and of the Lamb floods with its radiance the whole place.

2. Here the church, with its sacred objects and associations, appeals to us and excites our devotion; here in the sacred place there is a distinct promise to prayer; here God acts upon us, and we upon God, through prescribed ordinances; here He promises to be present in some especial manner; here we act upon one another, and kindle fervour, and therefore must not forsake "the assembling of ourselves together" in the house of God (Hebrews 10:25).

III. BUT THE TEXT ALLUDES TO THE INTERNAL TEMPLE — THE DISPOSITIONS OF THE SOUL OF THE WORSHIPPER, WHICH ATTRACT THE FAVOUR OF GOD. "To this man will I look,... who is poor,... contrite, and who trembleth at My word."

1. Poor, not merely outwardly, but poor in spirit (Psalm 138:6). The man who at all realizes the Divine majesty will have a sense of his own nothingness.

2. Of a contrite spirit. A perception" of the Divine holiness brings self-humiliation by force of contrast (Job 42:6).

3. "Trembleth at My word. Fear is ever an element of the spirit of worship. A sense of the Divine justice and judgments fills the soul with awe in approaching God. The Word or revelation of God is received, not in the spirit of criticism, but with reverence and godly fear.


1. The remembrance of the all-pervading presence of God should be a deterrent from evil, and an incentive to good.

2. The obligation of regularity in attendance at Divine worship ought to be insisted upon, both as a recognition of God and our relations with Him, and for the sake of the subjective effects on human character.

3. But outward worship is of no avail without inward. There are tests, in the text, of the presence of the spirit of worship — lowliness, contrition, and awe, as products of the realization of God's presence and perfections.

(The Thinker.)

1. The subject of remark — God Himself. "Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, the earth is My footstool." The attention is turned simply to God — His grandeur, His magnificence, His immensity, His omnipresence. He abides in heaven, He puts the earth under His feet.

2. The manner in which the remark about God is conducted, is that of a kind of contrast betwixt Him and men. "Where is the house that ye build unto Me, and where is the place of My rest?" God is unlike man. He challenges any comparison. "The heaven, even the heaven of heavens, cannot contain Him. Ancient kings aimed often to Impress their subjects with an idea of their magnificence, and surrounded themselves with a solemn and salutary awe, by rearing palaces of the most imposing splendour and magnificence. They wished to overawe the multitude. On this ground, God Himself, seems to have ordered the unequalled grandeur of the ancient temple. But in doing it, He took care that its dazzling beauty and stateliness should only be an aid, a stepping-stone, to assist the imagination in its upward reach towards the grandeur of God. In the prayer of the dedication, Solomon's devotion soars infinitely above the temple. Here, the majesty of God, and the littleness of man, stand side by side. After mentioning the earth and the heaven, God says, "All these things hath My hand made."

3. But yet, lest dread should too much terrify the worshipper, or a high and just idea of God's infinite majesty lead the humble into the error of supposing that such an august Being would not regard such an insignificant creature as man, he adds, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word." A turn of thought well worthy of our admiration. A contrite sinner has nothing to fear from God. His very majesty need not terrify him. Indeed, His majesty constitutes the very ground for his encouragement. It can condescend. Just as much does the King of kings and Lord of lords glorify Himself, when He consoles, by the whisperings of His Spirit, the poorest and most unworthy sinner that ever felt the pangs of a bruised heart, as when He thunders in the heavens as the most High, and gives His voice, hail-stones and coals of fire. With this idea, sinners should-approach Him and meditate His grandeur.

(I. S. Spencer, D. D.)

I. THE STYLE OF THE TEXT. God speaks of Himself. "The heaven is My throne, the earth is My footstool." This style of religious address is especially common in the Scriptures (Psalm 137.; Job 11:7, 8; Job 26:6-14; Isaiah 40:1.). These passages all speak of God in a style which we cannot attempt to analyze. Their aim appears to be twofold.

1. To lead us to make the idea of God Himself the leading idea in religion.

2. To have this idea, which we are to entertain about God, an idea of the utmost grandeur, of the most amazing magnificence, and solemn sublimity.

II. THE DESIGN IN VIEW CANNOT EASILY BE MISTAKEN. They would give us just ideas of God. The impression they aim to make is simply this, that God is incomparably and inconceivably above us — an infinite and awful mystery!


1. Our littleness. In the nature of the case, there can be no comparison betwixt man and God. All is contrast — an infinite contrast.

2. Our sinfulness. Sin never exists aside from the mind's losing a just impression of the Deity; and wherever it exists, there is a tendency to cleave to low and unworthy ideas of Him.

3. Our materiality, the connection of our minds with material and gross bodies. This connection renders it difficult for us to soar beyond matter. We are in danger of introducing the imperfections of our existence into our religion, even into our ideas of God. Consequently, when God speaks to us of Himself, He speaks in a manner designed to guard us from error. He says to us, "The heaven is ,My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where is the house ye build unto Me? We are limited to the world. We cannot get foothold anywhere else. We are circumscribed within very narrow limits. But God asks, "Where is the place of My rest?" He would elevate our conceptions of Him beyond matter, out of the reach of its bounds.

4. The nature of God. Man is only a creature. He owes his existence to a cause without him. That cause still rules him. That cause allows him to know but little, and often drops the veil of an impenetrable darkness before his eyes just at the point, the very point, where he is most desirous to look further, and it drops the veil there, in order to do him the twofold office of convincing him of the grandeur of God and his own littleness, and of compelling him, under the influence of those convictions, to turn back to a light which concerns him more than the darkness beyond the veil can, to a light where are wrapped up the duties and interests of his immortal soul. God would repress his curiosity, and make him use his conscience. Therefore, He makes darkness preach to him.


1. Let us be admonished to approach the study of religion with a solemnity of mind which belongs to it. It is the study of God. The voice comes from the burning bush, "Draw not nigh hither, put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the ground whereon thou standest is holy ground.' How unlike all other subjects is religion! How differently we should approach it!

2. This mode in which God teaches us — this grandeur and magnificence which belong to Him — ought to remove a very common difficulty from our minds, and prepare us to receive in faith, those deep and dark doctrines, whose mystery is so apt to stagger us. What can we expect?

3. Since God is so vast a being, how deep should be our humility!

4. How deep should be our homage.!

5. The greatness of God should gauge the depth of our repentance. Our sin is against Him.

6. The greatness of God should invite our faith. " If God be for us, who can be against us?"

7. The magnificence of God should be a motive to our service. He is able to turn our smallest services to an infinite account.

8. The greatness of God ought to encourage the timid. Because He is great, His regard reaches to every one of your annoyances. Your enemies cannot hurt you.

9. The grandeur of God ought to rebuke our reliance upon creatures.

(I. S. Spencer, D. D.)

I. WHAT THE LORD DOES NOT REGARD. He speaks quite slightingly of this great building. But is it not said elsewhere that "the Lord loved the courts of Zion"? Did He not expressly tell King Solomon when his temple was completed, "Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be on it perpetually"? He did; but in what sense are we to understand those words? Not that He delighted in the grandeur of the house, but in as much of spiritual worship as was rendered there. The temple itself was no otherwise well pleasing to Him than as it was raised in obedience to His orders, and as it served, in its fashion and its furniture, for "an example and a shadow of heavenly things;" but the Lord "loved the gates of Zion" because the prayers of Zion were presented there. He points out to us two things — His throne, and His footstool! and then He leaves it to ourselves to say whether any building man can raise to Him can be considerable in His eyes.

II. Hear from the Lord's own lips THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MAN WHO DRAWS HIS EYE. "To this man," etc.

1. The sort of character described.(1) He is "poor" — humble towards God. He is humble, too, towards his fellow-creatures; carrying himself meekly towards all men, and "in lowliness of mind, esteeming others better than himself." He is "slow to wrath" — patient under provocation — anxious not to be "overcome of evil" but rather to "overcome evil with good."(2) Another quality which marks the man to whom the Lord looks is contrition.(3) He "trembleth at My word." But what kind of trembling is meant? Felix trembled at God's word; and many a wicked man from his days to the present has trembled at it also. And yet it has been but a momentary pang — a sudden fright that has come over them, but which they have soon laughed off again. Now it is certainly not this sort of trembling which the Lord regards. The man who "trembleth" at God's word is one who entertains a deep and abiding reverence for every word which hath proceeded from God's lips.

2. What does the Lord mean when He saith, "To this man will I look? He evidently means, "To this man will I look with an eye of notice and regard." The Lord's favourable look, be it remembered, is quite another thing from man's; there is help, and comfort, and support conveyed by it (Isaiah 57:15). The Lord but looked on Gideon, and Gideon, weak before, was wonderfully strengthened (Judges 6:14).

(A. Roberts, M. A.)

Here are described two phases of the Divine greatness, one material, and the other moral; the superiority of the latter being clearly implied.

I. THE MATERIAL GREATNESS OF GOD. "Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool." Here God represents Himself as a mighty potentate, leaving us to infer the measure of His kingly glory and the extent of His dominion from these two things — His throne and His footstool. Thus the glory of the whole is indicated by the glory of the part.

1. The throne. We must note carefully the full extent and purport of the figure, "The heaven is My throne. It is not that the heaven is the place of His throne, but that the heaven is itself the throne. The conception, bold as it is, strikingly agrees with another figure used by inspiration to set forth the transcendent majesty of God, "Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee." The figure is a bold one. The human imagination, daring as its flights often are, could never have conceived it. It is purely a Divine conception, and the text is careful to say so, "Thus saith the Lord."

2. His footstool. "The earth. ' We know very little of the heaven. We know a great deal about the earth. Men have taken its dimensions, explored its resources, and discovered its glories. Yet this magnificent object is but His footstool. The footstool is the humblest article of furniture in the household; so needless is it deemed that thousands of houses dispense with it altogether. Others easily convert the thing nearest to hand into a footstool, as occasion may require. Nevertheless, some have expended no little skill and expense upon the construction even of footstools. There is preserved as a relic in Windsor Castle such an article, once belonging to the renowned Hindoo prince, Tippoo Sahib. It is in the form of a bear's head, carved in ivory, with a tongue of gold, teeth of crystal, and its eyes a pair of rubies. This article is adjudged worth £10,000. It is after all but a footstool. If Tippoo Sahib's footstool were so magnificent, what must have been the splendour of his throne! Yet, were all the thrones of the world collected together into one vast pile, they would form but a heap of rubbish as compared with God's footstool.

II. THE TEXT PRESENTS US WITH ANOTHER PHASE OF HIS GLORY — THE MORAL, WHICH IS ALSO HIS GREATER GLORY. "But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word." What a contrast we have presented to us here. God, the Mighty Potentate, from the height of His heavenly throne, looking down with yearning, compassionate regard upon such objects as are here described, the very dust of His footstool. There is a moral grandeur in this far transcending the power of language to describe. In order to appreciate fully the beauty and glory of this act, we must notice particularly the characters which are its special objects. They are described as those who are "poor" and are "of a contrite spirit," and that "tremble at His word." These several expressions do not describe one and the same condition. They indicate three distinct and progressive stages of spiritual experience.

1. Destitution. "Poor." It is not physical poverty that is meant, for the wealthiest, those who abound most in worldly possessions, are equally with the most destitute in the condition here indicated by the term "poor. It describes a spiritual condition — the spiritual poverty into which all men are reduced through sin — the wretched, the miserable, the oppressed of sin and guilt — the poor in the sense of being without hope, destitute of true peace and happiness.

2. The second stage indicated is one of conviction — the misery becoming a felt fact. " And of a contrite spirit." In these words we have indicated that condition of the mind when the all-crushing fact of its poverty and wretchedness has come home with overwhelming conviction.

3. The third stage is one of hope. "Trembleth at My word." God, out of the infinite depth of His compassion, hath spoken to this poor, wretched, sin-convicted creature, and the word spoken is a word of hope. The "trembling" at the word does not mean regarding it with fear, terror, or dismay, but solemnly, feelingly, and trustingly. It is the trembling of gratitude and of an awakened hope — an exquisite thrill of gratitude piercing the whole soul, causing it to vibrate with responsive joy to the message of hope. This wonderful condescension of God in relation to sinful men is His greater glory, it redounds to His honour far more than His conversion of the heavens into His throne and of the earth into His footstool.

(A. J. Parry.)

The desire for Divine communion has ever been strong in man. This desire was originated by God Himself. If not from God, whence could it come? We have no right to suppose it to be self-originated. That finite man should conceive an infinite Deity is an incredible supposition, for, to use the words of Pascal, "the infinite God is infinitely inconceivable." The manner in which God has thus revealed Himself in response to the passionate desire which He originated in man is a study fraught with a singular interest. He made Himself known to our first parents in Eden's garden, and in our first Scriptures we have several examples recorded of revelations made by Him after the banishment to the fathers of our race. By tradition these revelations were spread throughout the earth, and so we find the earliest religious faiths of our world abounding in sublime truths. But He specially revealed Himself to a chosen people. Israel lived under the very shadow of Jehovah, for God dwelt in that temple ann specially manifested His presence in it. But that presence did not restrain the people from rebellion. When not open followers of the idolatries of the surrounding nations, they left worship for ritual and forsook God for observances, and so made that temple to be at once their glory and their shame. It was at such time as this that the words of our text were uttered. Thus are we taught that Divine worship is not material, but spiritual, and that the habitation of God is not the building, but the soul.

I. THE NATURE OF THE BEING WHOM WE WORSHIP. Our text brings before as His omnipresence. He is in heaven, and He is on earth. We have a revelation also of the Divine omnipotence. Not only is He in heaven, not' only is He on earth, but He has a throne. Of course the one includes the other. If He be the omnipresent One, He is also the omnipotent One. That which is Infinite must be Absolute. We, however, distinguish, so as to obtain clearer conceptions. We are in danger of supposing that amidst all. this vastness we can be but of little consequence. But mind is greater than matter, and such ideas immediately vanish when we remember that the vastest material substance can never outweigh a holy thought, a feeling of devotion, a thrill of love. The man who can tell the motions of the stars is greater than the stars. And thus looking at the question, what shall we say of that man in whom God dwells? He who lives in a palace is greater than the palace, no matter how gorgeous it may be; and in the presence of a holy man the whole material creation is dwarfed into nothingness.

II. THE NATURE OF THAT WORSHIP WHICH THIS GREAT GOD REQUIRES. It must be something more than outward. Of all ceremonialism the Jewish was the most gorgeous. It was also of Divine appointing. The temple was built according to Divine plan and under Divine direction. The services were divinely commanded. The priests belonged to a Divinely set apart; tribe. Tokens of the Divine presence were given. But although this ceremonial was thus gorgeous, and of Divine appointment, yet God rejected it so soon as it lost its spiritual significance. All true religion begins in poverty of spirit. There must be a sense of natural defect and a consciousness of our own inability either to atone for the past or to deliver in the future. And with this poverty of spirit there must be contriteness. The heart needs to be broken before it can be bound up.

(Allan Rees.)


1. Here is an omnipresent Existence. One whose throne is heaven, whose footstool is earth, and to whom all places are alike. One who fills heaven and earth, not merely with His influence, but with His actual presence, as much at all times in one point of space as in another. The incommensurable One, not only everywhere, as the pantheists teach, as a substance, but everywhere as a Personality, free, conscious, active. All created existences are limited by the laws of space, and those that occupy the largest space are mere specks in immensity. Concerning the stupendous fact of God's Omnipresence, observe —(1) This fact is agreeable to reason. The denial of it would involve a contradiction. It enters into our very conception of God. A limited God would in truth be no God.(2) This fact is essential to worship. It is essential to the spirit of worship. Worship implies mystery. It is essential to constancy of worship. True worship is not an occasional or specific service confined to times and places, it is an abiding attitude of the soul. "God is a Spirit," etc.(3) This fact is promotive of holiness. Let men realize the constant presence of God, and how strongly will they feel restraint from sin and stimulation to virtue and holiness.(4) This fact is assurative of retribution. Who can hide himself from the Lord?(5) This fact is illustrative of heaven. There is nothing local or formal in the worship of heaven. " I saw no temple in heaven, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. He is felt to be everywhere, and He is worshipped everywhere.

2. Here is a creative Existence. "For all those things hath Mine hand made," etc. Because He made all, He owns all. Creatorship implies Eternity, Sovereignty, Almightiness, and Proprietorship.

II. A DOCTRINE THAT TRANSCENDS HUMAN DISCOVERY. "To this man will I look," etc. The doctrine is this, — that this Infinite Being, who is everywhere, who created the universe and owns it, feels a profound interest in the individual man whose soul is in a humble, contrite, and reverent state. Could reason ever have discovered such a truth as this? Never. Although this doctrine transcends reason it does not contradict it.


I. GOD'S REJECTION OF ALL MATERIAL TEMPLES. There was a time when it could be said that there was a house of God on earth. That was a time of symbols, when as yet the Church of God was in her childhood. She was being taught her A B C, reading her picture-book, for she could not as yet read the Word of God, as it were in letters. She had need to have pictures put before her, patterns of the heavenly things. Even then, the enlightened amongst the Jews knew well that God did not dwell between curtains, and that it was not possible that He could be encompassed in the most holy place within the veil It was only a symbol of His presence. But the time of symbols is now passed altogether. In that moment when the Saviour bowed His head, and said "It is finished! " the veil of the temple was rent in twain, so that the mysteries were laid open. So, one reason why God saith He dwelleth not in temples made with hands, is, because He would have us know that the symbolical worship is ended and the reign of the spiritual worship inaugurated at this day (John 4:21, 23). But our text gives, from God's own mouth, reasons why there can be no house at the present time in which God can dwell; and, indeed, there never was any house of the kind in reality — only in symbol For, say now, where is the place to build God a house? In heaven? It is only His throne, not His house! On earth? What, on His footstool? Will ye put it where He shall put His foot upon it and crush it? Fly through infinite space, and ye shall not find in any place that God is not there. Time cannot contain Him, though it range along its millenniums! Space cannot hold Him, for He that made all things greater than all the things that He has made. Yea, all the things that are do not encompass Him. But then, the Lord seems to put it, — What kind of a house (supposing we had. a site on which to erect it) would we build God? Sons of men. of what material would ye make a dwelling-place for the Eternal and the Pure? Would ye build of alabaster? The heavens are not clean in His sight, and He charged His angels with folly! Would ye build of gold? Behold, the streets of His metropolitan city are paved therewith, not indeed the dusky gold of earth, but transparent gold, like unto clear glass. And what were gold to Deity? Find diamonds, as massive as the stones whereof Solomon built his house on Zion, and then lay on rubies and jaspers - pile up a house, all of which shall be most precious. What were that to Him? God is a Spirit. He disdaineth your materialism. And yet men think, forsooth, when they have put up their Gothic or their Grecian structures, "This is God's house." And then the Lord shows that the earth and the heavens themselves, which may be compared to a temple, are the works of His hand. How often I have felt as if I were compassed with the solemn grandeur of a temple, in the midst of the pine forest, or on the heathery hill, or out at night with the bright stars looking down through the deep heavens, or listening to the thunder, peal on peal, or gazing at the lightning as it lit up the sky! Then one feels as if he were in the temple of God! Afar out on the blue sea, where the ship is rocking up and clown on the waves foam — then it seems as if you were somewhere near to God — amidst the sublimities of nature. But what then? All these objects of nature He has made, and they are not a house for Him.

II. GOD'S CHOICE OF SPIRITUAL TEMPLES. "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word."

III. THOSE THAT ARE OF THIS CHARACTER SECURE A GREAT BLESSING. God says He will "look" to them. That means several things.

1. Consideration.

2. Approbation.

3. Acceptance.

4. Affection.

5. Benediction.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

That is an excellent answer which was given by a poor man to a sceptic who attempted to ridicule his faith. The scoffer said, "Pray, sir, is your God a great God or a little God? The poor man replied, "Sir, my God is so great that the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him; and yet He condescends to be so little, that He dwells in broken and contrite hearts. Oh, the greatness of God, and the condescension of God!

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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