"And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord , so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:10-11)
How great that temple was! How beautiful and indescribable was its magnificence! The Great Temple of Solomon was a masterpiece built with cedar and stone, overlaid in gold, and founded on precious stones. No eyes could fully describe its majestic appearance. But its majesty, its worth, was not found in its magnitude, nor in the stones, nor in the gold that covered it. No, the majesty of the Great Temple resided in what it meant, and more specifically, who abided in it.
What did that great temple mean? It meant Immanuel, God with us. God was in the midst of His people. Though God the Father dwelt in heaven, as Solomon points out in his dedication of the temple, God the Spirit made His dwelling among His people. And as Solomon pleaded in His prayer, the Father set His face towards that house. He heard all that pleaded before His throne: both Jew and foreigner, both sinner and righteous.
"But what does it mean for me?" you may ask. After all, the temple is gone. It's nothing but a heap of rubble. Its foundations are the cornerstone of the Dome of the Rock, a temple for Islam. More importantly, God's Spirit and glory no longer abide there. Where did it go?
Oh my friend, such great questions! For God in His Spirit does not abide in a temple made out of stone. He dwells in a temple of flesh and of spirit. The Apostle Paul says that you "are the temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 6:19). If you are a believer, God the Spirit dwells in you. Peter tells us that “The Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet. 4:14).
Just think about the implications and applications of this reality. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in you, you are a holy temple; therefore, you must live a holy life. Be holy because God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16)! But see, you are not alone in striving towards holiness. God empowers you by the Holy Spirit to be holy. And when you don't live out holiness, when you don't obey, the Spirit counsels, convicts, and comforts you. He is the Helper in the fight against sin. You are not alone in the battle for holiness.
But don't just think about holiness. Think about suffering. In the midst of the storms and the valleys, you have a Comforter that leads you. When the tears of change and loneliness fall heavy on your cheeks, you can know that there is a Friend that is ever with you. When doubt clouds your vision of Heaven and you wonder if you've ever fallen away from grace, the Spirit testifies with you that you are a son of God. You are sealed in the Spirit of promise.
My friend, in the midst of cancer, of loss, of pain, know this. God is in the midst of it with you. He has not given you a spirit of fear, but the Spirit of adoption by which we cry out "Abba Father!" What can man, or sickness, or suffering do against you to bring you any further away from God's love? Absolutely nothing. Peter tells us, once again, that in the midst of persecution, we are blessed because the Spirit rests on us (4:14). God is ever with you. He will neither leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).
And finally, think about worship. Because God dwells within us, we are compelled to worship Him with all that we are. The Spirit implants a desire in us to seek the glory of the Father and of the Son. As He works, the Spirit empowers us to speak, to sing, and to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel. In seeing the "mercies of God," we are compelled with a heart renewed by the Holy Spirit to offer ourselves as "living sacrifices" which is our "spiritual worship" (Rom. 12:1-2).
My friend, if you are in Christ, God's Spirit dwells within you. Therefore, submit to Him. The Spirit draws you to the Son and His Word. Obey the Spirit and believe on Him who says "come and drink." Let your mind, your heart, and your soul be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Col. 3:16). Let the glory of the Lord be shone through you. Let others see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16). Above all else, let your mind be saturated by this reality: God is in our midst.