“Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells” (Psalm 26:8).
IF WE DILIGENTLY SEEK GOD, OUR JOY WILL BE IN PROPORTION TO HOW NEAR WE ARE TO GOD. David’s sentiment will be our own: “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells.” In whatever sense we may speak of God’s “habitation,” what we want is to be as near as possible to the place where His glory dwells. For the seeker, nearer is better.
(1) The Old Testament tabernacle. When God entered into a special relationship with Israel (a temporary arrangement that was preparatory to the coming of the Messiah), He designated a physical place as the location of His dwelling in their midst. To come to the tabernacle, and later the temple, was to be as close to God’s glory as it was possible to be anywhere in the world at that time.
(2) The New Testament church. Israel’s physical temple anticipated the building of a spiritual temple, a people in whose hearts God would dwell, and those people are the ones who make up the Lord’s church today (1 Peter 2:5). So it is possible to be nearer to God today than you could ever have been in Israel, even if you had gone into the Most Holy place in the heart of the tabernacle.
(3) Heaven. But just as Israel looked forward to a time when they could be nearer God’s presence than they could be in the tabernacle, we look forward to a time when we can be nearer God’s presence than we can be in the church. Just as they looked forward to the kingdom of the Messiah or Christ (1 Peter 1:10–12), we look forward to the heavenly completion and perfect fulfillment of that kingdom (2 Peter 1:10,11). Heaven will be the end of the progression, the great goal that everything else was leading up to. Heaven will be the saints of all ages in the actual, real presence of God!
My friends, we need to cherish the thought of that with all our hearts. Loving God as we do and desiring deeply to be as near Him as we can be, there won’t be a single day when we aren’t fired by the expectation of looking upon the face of our Father in heaven. That’s what the gospel is all about. Death is not the end — it is the beginning of what Christ died to make possible for us.
“The early Christians were looking not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory” (Alexander Maclaren).