Tag Archives: Temple

COVERED

For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12 ESV)

God blesses the righteous. In Psalm 1, God blesses a righteous man. “Blessed is the man who walks not …”  (Psalm 1:1 ESV). This opening statement of the Psalms points to the One Man who has never done anything wicked or sinful. There is only One. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If anyone else is righteous before God it is because they are found in Christ. They take refuge in Him. God blesses those in Christ because He blessed Christ and what happens to the Son of God happens to those in Him. “Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6 ESV).

How does God bless the Righteous One and those found righteous in Him? He will cover Him, which means to surround and to give a crown. Not only does God protect Him, spreading His “protection over them” (Psalm 5:11), those in Christ, but He gives Him a crown, seating Him in Zion. “As for men, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill”  (Psalm 2:6 ESV).Where God’s King is, so are His citizens.

Favor  is goodwill, acceptance, delight and pleasure. A shield  is a buckler and can also mean something piercing, a hook or barb. A shield is a defensive weapon designed to stop any attack without qualification. God does not even allow an attack to occur but hooks those who hate Him and leads them away from His presence.

God will allow nothing into eternity that conflicts with His ultimate will and purpose. His presence is enough to keep all protected from sin, from the Deceiver, and the world that draws people away from Him. There is no danger in His presence. There is peace and rest given to all whom he draws to Himself. Those found in Christ are protected and secure in their being and place before Him.

Throughout Jesus’ last week, after He entered the Temple and violently drove out those who desecrated His Father’s house, He challenged and was challenged by the religious leaders. They questioned Him, His authority, and His reason for acting violently against them. He challenged them, telling them parables meant to convict and draw out their sin so they might see their sin and repent. Just before launching into a long, multi-pronged accusation of them, Jesus asks them a simple question. Whose son is the Christ? “Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?  They said to him, ‘The son of David’” (Matthew 22:41-42 ESV). They rightly answered. Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of God, known as Christ, is a descendant from the lineage of King David. He is a Man, as God originally created Man, without sin and with the character and personality of a servant, as Adam was created. 

Jesus then asks them other questions. “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him, Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45; see Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:34-35, Hebrews 1:13). How can Messiah be a son of a sinful man? How can Messiah be a man at all?

They were confounded. “And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions”(Matthew 22:46 ESV). They challenged God to debate. They sought to impose their traditions and will upon Him whom they are designed to serve. They refused to accept the words and works of the Man standing before them aware of the miracles He had performed, doing that which only God could do. Messiah was standing before them and they rejected Him.

David wrote the Psalms as prophecies of Messiah, of Christ. David’s heart reflected the thinking of the heart of Jesus. Though they hated Him and put Him to death, He fulfilled God’s ultimate, eternal purpose, and lives, reigning in eternity over His kingdom. His citizens are with Him. God’s blessings are on them because of Jesus. His blood covers them with His righteousness, protecting them. Christ’s blood is the only defense against sin, stronger than any fortress, impenetrable, a shield of God’s favor and protection.

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Refuge

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them,  that those who love your name may exult in you. (Psalm 5:11 ESV)

When threatened people stand and fight, shake in fear, paralyzed and unable to move, or flee to a protected place. A refuge  is a trusted place where those who belong to God flee from danger, knowing His protection is guaranteed. However, God’s refuge is not a physical place. He does not take people out of the world when they are in danger. Those who are in Christ are hidden in His Son, filled with His Spirit, and guaranteed eternal life. God blesses those in Christ because He blesses Christ, the only One who lived a full life in the flesh and never sinned. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1 ESV). Those in Christ are in God’s refuge. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him”  (Psalm 2:12 ESV).

Finding refuge in God through Christ brings eternal joy, even when surrounded by temporal chaos. They not only rejoice, which is to make glad, but they ever sing for joyEver  means from ancient times into eternity, indefinite and unending. To sing for joy means to give a ringing cry out of perpetual gladness. Those who face the wrath of the world because of their relationship with God in Christ will endure persecution for righteousness’ sake. 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

Living in the world and facing persecution does not feel like having God’s protection. Trust, which is part of the description of a refuge, is an emotional response to the sure promises of God and integral to a healthy, whole faith. He has promised those who are His eternity with Him, where there is no sin. “Evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4 ESV). In the refuge of His eternal presence is His protection, a hedge or fence, woven together, strong beyond comprehension. Nothing that is not of God gets through this barrier. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory”  (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV).

God protects those who love Him. We often do not see His protection. When He allows us, those who are His, to feel the brunt of persecution for righteousness’ sake, it may seem He has withdrawn His refuge and abandoned us to the world. Yet, being in Christ means that what happens to Christ happens to us, and what happens to us happens to Christ. Jesus endured the cross for our sake and bids us take up our cross, which is, in reality, His cross, and follow Him. “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27 ESV). Our identity with Christ is complete. Our obedience to God is a natural result of our being in Christ. He who raised Christ from the dead will also raise us and bring us into eternity with Him. Nothing this world can do will separate us from Him.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?   (Romans 9:31-35 ESV)

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on His way to cleansing the Temple, a crowd of people filled with children sang out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9 ESV). Some Pharisees standing there told Jesus to rebuke His disciples and stop them from singing out to Him. “He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out’” (Luke 19:40 ESV). After driving out the people desecrating His Father’s House, the children continued to sing “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:15 ESV), causing the indignation of the chief priests. Those who love God cannot help but sing out in joy. They exult in Him, which is to give glory, rejoice, act triumphantly, and take the greatest pride. He is everything. 

Sentencing

Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,(Psalm 5:10 ESV)

When Jesus entered Jerusalem the last week of His earthly ministry, He went to the Temple, His Father’s house, and cleared away the vendors and moneychangers. He disrupted Annas’ Bazaar, violently driving them from the Temple grounds. In the Gospel of John, at the beginning of His ministry when He did the same, He accused the authorities of turning His Father’s house into a market. “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”  (John 2:16 ESV). Now, the second time, He accuses them of thievery. They are stealing from the people and from God.“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13 ESV; see Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46). Jesus acts angry.

Following this scene, Jesus confronts and is confronted by the spiritual leaders of Israel, who are leading the people away from God, not toward Him. Yet, the people come to Him, especially those who need healing. Children cried out, exclaiming over Him.

And the blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them.

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the Temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” 

And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. (Matthew 21:14-17 ESV).

The next day, Jesus again entered the Temple. There is no indication Annas’ Bazaar was still there. Immediately, the chief priest challenged and questioned Jesus’ authority. Jesus asked them about John’s baptism.“The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” (Matthew 21:25 ESV). They refused to answer. “And they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “From man,” we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’” (Matthew 21:25-26 ESV). They were not interested in knowing the truth. All they wanted was political power. “For there is no truth in their mouth” (Psalm 5:9 ESV).

Jesus confronts them and their rebellion using two parables. “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet” (Matthew 21:45-46 ESV). Jesus used His stories to convict them of their guilt and wrongdoing.

Jesus’ first parable was of the two sons. A father had two sons. He told them both to work in their vineyard. One son declared he would, but did not. The other son said he would not work, but went and worked. One son claimed obedience but lied. The other son rebelled but then obeyed. The Father is God. The sons are the children of God. 

Which of the two did the will of his father?” 

They said, “The first.” 

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.   (Matthew 21:31-32 ESV)

Jesus second parable is of the tenants of a master who built a winepress then traveled to a distant country. The tenants mutinied against him, killing the servants of the master sent to gather the profits of the winepress. The master sent his son, whom they also killed. They believed by killing the son they would then be rid of the master and have full control of the winepress. The Master is God. The tenants are the people of God. The servants are the prophets of God and the son is Jesus.

When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”  (Matthew 21:40-41 ESV)

Their own words condemn them. “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits”  (Matthew 21:43 ESV). They will bear their own guilt. They will fall by their own counsel. They rebel and sin against God and He will cast them from His presence.

Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. (Psalm 5:10 ESV)

Evidence of Rebellion

For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.  (Psalm 5:9 ESV)

Jesus stands in God’s courtroom, presenting the evidence of rebellion to the eternal Judge. God is righteous and just. Jesus prayed for God’s attention, then announces God’s character for all to hear. God does not tolerate those who lie, especially about Him to those who are His. Jesus enters God’s house, His Temple, the eternal courtroom of God’s presence, seeking to follow the absolute will of God in all ways. Those who revile God, who mutiny against Him, who lead others in their rebellion, face God’s judgment. They are the defendants in God’s courtroom, representing themselves against the Prosecutor, who wants to cover them with grace and mercy but cannot because of their continual obstinate and unlawful behavior.

Who they are, the defendants standing in God’s courtroom, is shown from their innermost selves, the evidence of their vile words. Their intent dictates their actions. They will do that which they think and feel. God already proclaimed “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”  (Genesis 6:5 ESV). Man’s spiritual condition has not changed since the time of Noah, or from the first act of rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve. God destroyed all but eight in the time of Noah. He will not do that again until the end of time. Then He will judge each according to their sin.

“For there is no truth in their mouth.” Truth  means fixed, established, securely enduring direction, referring to the contemptible words that spew from their mouths. The word nomeans nothing, without, lacking. Nothing that comes from their mouths is fixed or provides direction. Their words and standards for living are arbitrary, changing at a whim, the exact opposite of God’s words. Their hearts, the inmost self is destruction, which is evil desires, a chasm of calamity. Everything about the thinking of their hearts, made known through their words and actions, is not true by any standard of truth. There is only one standard. He, who created all things and set laws in place, reveals truth for all to know and follow. 

Jesus presents the evidence and then drives it home by repeating that evidence. Not only is there no truth in their mouths, when they open their mouths all that is contained and spills out is deadness. Their throats are an open grave, a tomb or sepulcher, which contains dead and decaying bodies.  With their tongues they flatter, which means to divide, plunder, impart and share, smooth and slippery. Their words tickle the ears of their hearers, enticing them to follow and embrace that which is not true. They are false witnesses, declaring they speak for God to those who would see God, but intentionally leading them away from Him whom they seek.

Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, during the Passover week before His crucifixion, He again entered the Temple and drove out those who desecrated God’s house. “And he entered the Temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers’” (Luke 19:45-46 ESV). Those with the responsibility to lead the people to God, who were in charge of the Temple, hated Jesus for challenging their authority. They hated Him but the people they lead loved Jesus and listened intently to His teaching. “And he was teaching daily in the Temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words” (Luke 19:47-48 ESV).

What follows Jesus actions and teaching in the Temple is a series of challenges by those religious leaders. They challenge His authority, try to trap Him in His words, look for anything they could to condemn Him. They ask about the baptism of John (Luke 20:1-8). They ask if it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar (Luke 20:19-26). They ask about marriage and what will happen in heaven (Luke 20:27-40).

Jesus then tells the people to beware of the teaching of the Scribes and those who claim spiritual authority.

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:45-47 ESV)

Matthew 23 is a litany of woes and declarations against the Scribes and Pharisees. “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “’The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice’”    (Matthew 23:1-3 ESV). Jesus presents the evidence that those who are tasked with leading people toward God actually lead them away from God.

God will not tolerate those who change His words and turn worshipping Him into idolatry. Their leading and teaching bring death not life. They have turned the truth into a lie and speak the lies to a people eager to hear them and believe anything but truth.

The Narrow and Straight

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.(Psalm 5:8 ESV)

There is a spiritual pathway that leads to God’s Kingdom. It is narrow, sometimes meandering, straight in other places, steep in some, and impossible to traverse without the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. People start their journey along this route carrying everything they deem valuable. As they walk, they lose stuff that has no eternal value. At the end of the path is a gate, small and narrow which allows only the traveller called by God to enter. They may carry nothing through that gate which belongs in the world. Their old self cannot enter, either. 

“Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24 ESV; see Mark 10:24-25, Luke 18:24-25)

In the world is a highway leading away from God. It is fast and wide, and accommodating to all. As people move along this freeway they pickup stuff, adding to their burden, refusing to abandon anything they deem valuable and necessary to their life. Surrounded by many, who jostle and fight for position, they move en mass toward anything that is not God. At the end of the road is a gate, wide and inviting, going to a place where God cannot be known by any who enter. 

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”(Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

Jesus cleared the Temple at the beginning of His ministry and then again just before His crucifixion and resurrection. He made Himself known, angering the Jewish religious leaders because of His brazen actions and outrageous claims. They were His enemies, foes and rivals, opponents and antagonists. They were against Him in everything He did. It was common knowledge among the people of Jerusalem that the religious leaders wanted to murder Jesus. “Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, ‘Is not this the man whom they seek to kill?’”  (John 7:25 ESV). Everything Jesus did rankled and irritated those who hated Him. Even when Jesus healed sick and maimed people, they became enraged.

Surrounded by such malevolence, Jesus sought God’s will. He prayed for God’s righteousness. This Psalm speaks to Jesus’ desire to know God under the harshest circumstance. “Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me” (Psalm 5:8 ESV). To lead, or to be led, means to be guided, to bring to a place with purposeful intent. Righteousness is the rule of law of the King and Sovereign, God’s decrees founded on God’s eternally pure character. Straight means level and smooth, to be perfectly right according to law, directed without mistake or purposeful deceit. Before me means face, presence, person, in front of, as in leading by the hand someone who cannot lead themselves. Jesus is praying that God prepare the way, clear the obstacles which would trip or hinder, and direct His words, actions and motivations, to ultimately bring Him before God, the destination of every spiritual journey.

One of the major themes of the Psalms is the confrontation of those who are righteous against those who are unrighteous. God blesses the man, Jesus Christ, and all who take refuge in Him, because He, and they, do not walk “in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers”   (Psalm 1:1 ESV). His enemies conspire against Him, teaching and training those under their authority to actively rebel against God. They surround Him. But He is not afraid, even when the intent of His enemies is His murder. “I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Psalm 3:6 ESV). He challenges them in the thinking of their hearts. “O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?” (Psalm 4:2 ESV). His resurrection is the ultimate victory over their rebellion. “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled” (Psalm 2:11-12 ESV).

Jesus does not just pray this for Himself but for all who are identified with Him. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). Those who trust Him, that He will deliver what He has promised, are hidden in Him. What happens to Him happens to them. Where He goes they are. God’s house is in eternity. As Jesus walks toward God’s house, a spiritual path, those who are in Him go with Him into God’s presence. God gave Jesus the purpose and task of drawing those who love Him into His life-giving presence. We carry nothing with us but, for a short time, His cross, which is our cross.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  (Luke 9:23-25 ESV)

Entering God’s House

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy Temple in the fear of you. (Psalm 5:7 ESV)

We enter God’s house only because He draws us to Himself.

God built a house, a Temple and a place where His people would worship Him, in Jerusalem, the City of David. Solomon spent seven years building the Temple (see 2 Kings 6:38). Jesus went to a Temple built by Herod the Great, still under construction after 46 years (John 2:20). Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 BC and its contents carried off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. God used Nebuchadnezzar to punish His people because of their sin, as He continuously warned them He would do. In AD 70, Herod’s Temple was destroyed by Titus, who attacked Jerusalem because of the rebellion of the Jewish nation against Rome. 

God is not contained in a physical place. He does not live in a physical house. Solomon knew this as he dedicated the Temple he built to God.“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 ESV). God created the heavens and the earth. He transcends heaven, filling the earth with Himself, holding the universe in His hand.“Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD”(Jeremiah 23:24 ESV). We build places of worship for ourselves. Our purpose is to know God intimately, the reason He created us in His image. God wants us to worship and know Him.

Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?  All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”(Isaiah 66:1-2 ESV)

Abundance means multitude and greatness. Steadfast love means goodness, kindness and faithfulness. Fear is not terror caused by an eminently dangerous circumstance but the greatest respect, reverence and piety brought on by the awesome and terrifying presence of God. To bow down is to worship and prostrate oneself before God. God draws the worshipper into His presence because of His eternal love for the person created in His image. In response, the individual offers true worship to the God of the universe with an intimate understanding and knowledge of Him who is above all.

Jesus entered the Temple at the beginning of His ministry and violently drove away those who desecrated the House of God. He challenged those given the responsibility to lead God’s people in truthful worship. He knew the Temple would be destroyed. Herod’s Temple was a magnificent structure, which impressed all who saw and entered. 

“Jesus left the Temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the Temple. But he answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.’”(Matthew 24:1-2 ESV)

 God’s Temple is the body of Christ, which Jesus said they would destroy and He would raise again in three days.“He was speaking about the Temple of his body”(John 2:21 ESV). He is the eternal Temple of God built with the living stones of those who belong to Him. 

“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”(1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV)

God’s house is in eternity. Jesus did not come to preserve a sinful world, to fix it or make it better. He came to draw to Himself, into His presence for eternity, “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6 ESV), who have abandoned themselves to Him.“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24 ESV).

We are surrounded in the world by God’s enemies. We are separated from the world for Him who created the world, while still living in the world. We are here as a witness to them of the love God has for them, shown through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. Also, He is preparing us for eternity with Him. Our place is both as a witness in a courtroom and a student in a classroom.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.(1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV)

God is Self-Existent and Immense

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:2 ESV).

God has no beginning or ending. God is not dependent upon any force outside of Himself for His existence, which is unconstrained by either the physical universe or time. God exists outside of both. We learn this from the first verse in Scripture. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 ESV). When He spoke to Moses, commanding him to lead His people out of Egypt, God gave His name as I AM. “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: “I AM has sent me to you”’” (Exodus 3:14 ESV). I AMmeans to be, to exist without cause, to remain (eternally) and continue (without beginning or end). Jesus uses the same phrase to describe Himself, which exacerbates the hatred of the religious leaders toward Him. “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple”(John 8:58-59 ESV). John has already told the world who Jesus is.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  (John 1:1-3 ESV)

How big is the universe? No one knows. Scientists have tried to measure the observable universe but they can only provide educated guesses. Currently, Scientists suggest the distance from earth to the edge of what they have observed is over 46 billion light years, making the diameter closer to 96 billion light years, if Earth is the center. This is only an estimated measurement of what they can see and cannot include what they cannot see. The universe is huge, unimaginably large.

God tells us that He is larger than the universe. He declares that He fills heaven and earth. “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:23-24 ESV). Not only does He fill the universe, He surrounds it. “You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1 ESV). Solomon recognized how puny he was and how small was the temple built for Him. God does not live in a physical place. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 ESV). Just before Stephen was stoned for his witness for Jesus, he spoke about Solomon’s words and the temple built for God.

But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’” (Acts 7:47-50 ESV; see Isaiah 66:1-2)

Jesus gives the same analogy in the Sermon on the Mount. “But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King”  (Matthew 5:34-35 ESV). God doesn’t just sit in the heavens and place His feet on the earth. This analogy is an anthropomorphic illustration used to help those created in the image of God and corrupted by sin to understand God’s immensity and power.People tend to think about God as if He were one of them, having the same size and limitations. We are limited by space and time therefore, God must also be limited by space and time. We occupy a physical place in the universe, therefore, God must also occupy a physical place in the universe. Theology tells us that God is immense, which means He is unlimited by the physical universe and cannot be contained within its boundaries. He is eternal. As the Creator of the heavens and the earth He must be larger than that which He made.