God’s Two Dwelling Places
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).
GOD INHABITETH ETERNITY.
GOD DWELLS WITH HIM THAT IS OF A CONTRITE AND HUMBLE SPIRIT.
There is an immense contrast! A Being so great as to fill all things, to inhabit eternity, yet so gracious, so condescending as to stoop down and dwell in the humble and contrite spirit.
It is difficult for the creature to speak of the Creator. His views must be limited and dwarfed, rightly limited by reason of being a creature, wrongly limited and dwarfed by being a FALLEN creature. Yet “where sin abounded grace did much more abound,” for the renewed mind must have larger, grander thoughts of God than even Adam in innocence ever had, perfect surely as far as the creatures capacity went. We know God, for He dwells with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit; yet, however thrilling and captivating the revelation of God is, we are deeply conscious of how very feebly we enter into it.
For our conception of God—a conception that can satisfy even our finite minds must be a paradox; we demand that He must be beyond our conception—an inconceivable conception, a contradiction of terms, if tested by the cold logic of the mind, but just that which alone can satisfy the hungry heart.
As one, formerly an infidel, wrote, and he never could have written two lines more truly convincing of the spiritual change that had come over him:
“’Tis darkness to my intellect,
But sunshine to my heart.”
God inhabits eternity. He fills all things. He is everywhere. He is the uncreated, self-existent source of all things, yet knowing no source for Himself. He created all things out of nothing. Such a conception satisfies because it is beyond conception. We bow before this glorious Being with holy joy. Our hearts trust Him, for He is utterly beyond the littleness and frailty and sinfulness of men. He is in one sense unmoved by any impulse, save that which springs from Himself. He is all goodness, all love, all righteousness, all holiness, all faithfulness. Every attribute and quality that we can admire is absolute in its fulness in Him. In short, a Being who is love, who is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, satisfies the cry of our hungry hearts for omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, all serve His love, and therefore serve us. This could not be known without revelation, nor fully known apart from the Cross, where God manifested Himself fully in Christ.
But sin has come in. There is distance, infinite distance, between this wonderful Being and the sinner, between the Creator and the fallen creature.
When repentance is present in the soul (we are not now taking up the question of how God has been met in His claims of holiness at the Cross in respect of sin) God is able to dwell in that soul; for the contrite and humble spirit is morally suitable to be God’s dwelling place. And we know, further, in this dispensation He dwells by His Holy Spirit.
On the side of the Cross on God’s part and on the side of contrition and humility on our part this infinite distance has been removed, for contrition shows self-judgment as to the past, and humility: a right and proper sense of one’s relation to God.
Though we have now the special place that Christianity has set us in, yet God’s ways are ever the same, so our verse culled from the Old Testament can have Old Testament as well as New Testament confirmation.
God dwelt with Abraham. He judged his own course, therefore the course of this whole world, and became a stranger and a pilgrim, and looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.
God dwelt with David. Not with Saul, head and shoulders above his fellows; but with the ruddy youth keeping his father’s sheep in the wilderness; with the young man, anointed by Samuel: yet hiding in the cave of Adullam, or a fugitive in the wildernesses and fastnesses of Judah, or finally on the throne, “the man after God’s own heart.”
God dwelt with Daniel. Not with the haughty Babylonish King, but with the captive young man eating pulse and drinking water; with the mature man, who found the most dangerous place for his enemies was the safest place for himself—the den of lions; a man whom God could address as, “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved.”
God dwelt with such as Mary and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna. The marvellous news of the advent of the Son of God into this world was communicated to such, when high priests and rulers were all unconscious of how, with all their position and pretension they were passed by, for these peasants and humble folk were made the recipients of heavenly intelligence.
God dwelt with Paul. Not with Saul of Tarsus, steeped to the eyes in the pride of a Christ-hating, church-persecuting zeal! but with that stricken man, unhorsed, biting the dust on that Damascene road, blinded by the light above the brightness of the sun—with “our beloved brother Paul” as Peter affectionately terms him; the slave of Jesus Christ—as he calls himself, the servant of the churches.
Dear Christian friend, may it be your aim and mine to make room for the dwelling-place of Him who fills all things, for whilst once sealed by the Holy Ghost in this dispensation we are sealed “till the day of redemption,” till the day the Lord comes for us, yet in the passage before us the thought expressed is that which is moral, God dwelling in His complacency, in connection with the thought of a state in us, well pleasing to Him, that of contrition and humility.
May He keep us in the abiding sense of our own littleness as we find out more and more His greatness.
Words of Grace and Encouragement 1909