|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 21
Meditation Title: God's Dwelling
Eph 2:21,22 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Now have expressed the truth of this verse many times in these meditations in different ways but it is really so amazing that we make no apology for repeating it in detail here. Paul in the previous verse has just referred to us as God's household, that I summarised as everyone who ‘lives under God's roof'. There Paul had been speaking about us as the community of God's people but having used that expression he now slightly changes it to refer to a ‘building' and this building is actually a ‘temple' where ‘God lives' . Now it is possible that many of us are familiar with this idea but forty years ago it was only just coming into the awareness of the church.
Now to catch the full significance of this analogy we have to go back into the Old Testament, first to Mount Sinai where we find, “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Ex 25:8,9) There we have the first references to a ‘sanctuary' and a ‘tabernacle', a tent for meeting with God for which God gave very specific instructions. When those instructions were followed and the tabernacle was first set up, we find, “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Ex 40:34,35) a clear indication of the presence of the Lord approving and filling the tent.
Many years later after David had taken it to Jerusalem, he wanted to make a permanent structure for the Lord but was told that his son would do it. Thus we find that Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem and when it was finished we find, “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.” (1 Kings 8:10,11), again a clear indication of the presence of the Lord approving and filling the Temple .
Thus the Temple came to be seen as the place where God dwelt, where people would come to meet with Him. When we come to the New Testament we find Paul using this analogy again and again: “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor 3:16) and, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor 6:19) and, “For we are the temple of the living God.” (2 Cor 6:16 ). This is the amazing truth that Christianity claims, that God comes to us, when we surrender to Him and receive the finished work of Christ on the Cross, and puts His own Holy Spirit within us. We thus become the very dwelling of God on the earth. No longer a building but people, millions of people.
In the previous verses Paul has just referred to, “Christ Jesus himself…the chief cornerstone.” so at the beginning of this verse when he says, “In him the whole building is joined together” the “in him” is Christ. This is Paul yet again emphasizing that it is only as we become “in Christ” that we become part of his family or household, part of the building that he is creating. We are “in him” and he is in us. That is the unity that the New Testament speaks about.
This ‘building' thus becomes the dwelling of God by His Holy Spirit and it is an ongoing building process for Paul says “you too are being built together,” which suggests an ongoing activity. Why is it thus? Because the growth of the church means that day in, day out, new believers are being born again, being added to the body, added to the family, added to the household, and added to the Temple. In Barcelona there is a strangely designed church that has been under construction since 1882, often called the Sagrada Família, and it is still incomplete. It is now a mixture of designs and in the sense of the mixed designs and incomplete nature, it is a good representation of the Church. It will never be complete until the day when God winds up all things, which is why it often appears immature and questionable. It is a Temple in the making and you and I, as Christians, are part of it. The wonder is that it is where God dwells on earth and, most importantly, where He wishes to reveal Himself to the rest of the world. If God dwells among men, it is so that He can interact with us and reveal Himself to more and more people so that the Temple grows ever bigger and the glory of the Lord is seen more clearly. We have some way to go yet!