God’s Dwelling Place

The nativity account features this prophetic birth announcement.

An angel announced to Joseph,

“‘…you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us'” (Matt. 1:21-23).

Jesus Christ: God’s Unique Temple

The Gospel of John declares,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt (lit. “tabernacled”) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1,14).

How marvelous that the infinite, eternal God would humble Himself to dwell on planet earth as a man! Although this is God’s unique and ultimate manifestation, the Bible refers to other aspects of God’s dwelling.

God’s Old Testament Temple

God had previously chosen to manifest His presence among His people after the exodus from Egypt. The LORD gave Moses precise instructions for the tabernacle, and His shekinah glory rested upon it (Exodus 40:34).

Four centuries later king Solomon built the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. God’s glory also came upon the temple after the ark of the covenant was placed into the Holy of Holies: “Indeed it came to pass, … the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. (2 Chron. 5:13,14).

God’s New Testament Temple

Almost a millennium later the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary, predicting that she would give birth to the Son of God by the creative power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-38).

Just as God dwelt in the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple in Jerusalem, He has chosen to dwell in the heart of every true believer in Jesus! God’s purpose in saving us is to reveal His life in and through us.

In his testimony, Paul affirmed, “God … separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me … (Gal 1:15,16). He reminded the Corinthian church, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor. 3:16, emphasis added). And he reminded the Colossian believers of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

William Culbertson declared that this truth is central to abundant living:

“I remember, therefore, that God is living in me. Oh, that we would dare to believe Him. Oh, that we would dare to take this truth, not as something theoretical, but as presenting an absolute, actual fact. My friend, this is not imagination. This is not daydreaming. This is the truth of the Word of God. My body, your body–if we are Christians–is indwelt by none other than the Holy Spirit … It is not what I do that counts, it is what God does in and through me (Phil. 2:13). I wonder if we have not said the whole thing at least in embryo, when we have affirmed that it is the purpose of the Holy Spirit to live the life of Christ in the believer.”[1]

To allow the fullness of God’s gracious presence to be revealed in us, we should have the attitude Mary expressed at Gabriel’s announcement of the supernatural conception of the Lord Jesus: “Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ ” (Luke 1:38). She believed God’s promise and surrendered to His plan.

Will we believe this wonderful truth of God’s Spirit indwelling us? Will we yield our will to His benevolent control?

“O holy child of Bethlehem,
Descend on us we pray.
Cast out our sin, and enter in;
Be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell.
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord, Emmanuel.” [2]


Lord, we are humbled to realize that You chose to dwell in us. Thank You for Your grace in the Lord Jesus that has made our hearts Your home. We echo Mary’s response–Behold, we are Your servants; fulfill in us your wise plan through Your indwelling Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.

[1] William Culbertson, God’s Provision for Holy Living, (Moody press) p. 110,111.

[2] from “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” by Phillips Brooks.

Grace Notes (c) 1998 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non commercial use if credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Honorable Mention

Nona Hovey has produced audio albums of piano music with biblical quotations. In Meditations III, The entire Christmas story is presented through piano improvisations with Scripture narration overlay. You can listen online or download these recordings at BeStillMusic.com.

Posted in