Did God Really Live in the Tabernacle/Temple?

Question:  In 2 Chronicles 5:14 what does “the glory of the Lord” really mean?  I’ve always taken it to mean God physically manifested Himself in the Temple.  But in 6:18 Solomon asks, “will God really dwell on Earth with men?” and later seems to answer no in 6:21, “Hear from Heaven, your dwelling place.”  At this point, I am confused.  Is God in the Temple or in Heaven?  Or is it both because He is omnipresent?  But if He’s omnipresent, what’s the point of having a Temple in which He can dwell?

Answer:  I understand the glory of Yahweh to mean anything that displays His character.  In the temple the fiery cloud displayed His character as the holy One and gave a visible evidence of His presence.  Of course He is omnipresent, but He often makes known His presence in particular ways like this to show His people that He is with them.  His dwelling place is in heaven and it was in the Tabernacle and Temple, but it was understood by Solomon that no earthly temple could contain Him.  The earthly temple was a replica of sorts of the heavenly temple and was designed to be the symbol of God’s presence here.  The temple served as a tangible sign of God’s desire to be among His people and a place to which they could bring sacrifices, prayers and worship to give locality to their expression of relationship with Him.

Randall Johnson


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