A pastor friend sent me an e-mail recently informing me that he and his wife, now in their eighties, were moving back to his home state of Michigan where he still had family members living. I told him how sorry we were to see him leaving us, but I completely understood and wished them God’s blessings. It reminded me of an old country song by John Denver, so I sent it to them: “Hey it’s good to be back home again. Sometimes this old farm Feels like a long-lost friend. Yes, and hey, it’s good to be back home again.”
Much of Isaiah chapters 56 and 57 are given over to God’s condemnation of the corrupt, unscrupulous professional prophets of Israel. They were watchmen but failed to watch. Then Isaiah 57:15 describes God’s compassion and speaks about His comfort for those who are righteous. He can do this because of who He is, “the high and exalted One,” a term found throughout the Bible. God lives in eternity, in a high and holy place. But He also lives with those who spirits are contrite and humble that He might revive and restore them. This verse staggers our imagination. How can God who dwells in eternity also reside in the sinful heart of humankind? I see the stars, hear the rolling thunder, and realize that God is infinite. I can examine my own heart and know I am a sinner saved by grace. But I cannot understand how God can live in me, yet I know He does. Consider these truths with me as a comfort and challenge to your heart.
1. God lives in a high and holy place.
He also inhabits eternity, the only place that word appears in Scripture. In Genesis 21:13 and Psalm 90:1-2 He is called the everlasting God. Hebrews 1:2 YLT names Him “the One who “made the ages.” This indicates that deity cannot be measured by time. Time is a measurement. Time began when God created a finite and changing world. We live in time. Our lives are overloaded with schedules, but God is above time.
God inhabits the universe. Wherever we go, He is there. Theologians term it His omnipresence. David admitted in Psalm 139:7-10 NLT that he could never escape from God’s presence, whether in heaven, the grave, or the farthest ocean. And in a sense, the universe is in God. Paul preached in Athens, a city of philosophers and idols, and said in essence: “God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines…he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable…so we could seek after God, and actually find him…He’s not remote; he is near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him” (Acts 17:27-28 MSG).
Heaven is also God’s dwelling place. We pray: “Our Father who art in Heaven.” When Scripture says God came to earth, it does not mean He left Heaven empty. Solomon prayed long ago that the heaven of heavens could not contain Jehovah, much less a temple (I Kings 8:27). The lesson here is that you cannot run away or hide from God. Adam and Eve could not, nor could Jonah.
2. God lives in a contrite and humble person.
Humble people have a true evaluation of themselves, but the proud forget that they are made of the dust of the earth and live in the presence of a great and lofty God. Their pride of intellect or achievement boasts that their knowledge is better than God’s. Consider a surgeon who forgets that only God can heal. Evaluate a scientist who forgets that God created humankind and not evolution. Observe an entertainer who pushes away fans who only desire an autograph.
In contrast, humble individuals consider themselves as the dust of the ground. Without resentment, they can observe others exalted while they are degraded. They can watch others pass them by in success and praise. They can say “use us” to the Lord and He always does. Leaders in every field are not typically arrogant and greedy, but servants. Remember, Jesus came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, to serve. The sweetest music comes from tiny birds, not large ones, so the sweetest testimony comes from those who are small in their own estimation and before the Lord.
The contrite bring their trials, troubles, tears, and cares before the Lord. The world labels this nonsense. The contrite bring their requests to God in prayer. The world says God is not interested in such triviality. Luke 18:10-14 records a story Jesus told about two men, a Pharisee, and a tax collector. Both went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed selfishly, thankful that he was not like this tax collector. The tax collector sadly hung his head and beat upon his breast crying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” That man was justified. God made His home in the heart of that humble and contrite tax collector. Jesus taught that if a man loved Him and would keep His words, the Father would also love him, and together make their home with him. (John 14:23). Beloved reader, my prayer is for your spiritual development as Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus:
“I kneel in prayer to the Father. All beings in heaven and on earth receive their life from him. God is wonderful and glorious. I pray that his Spirit will make you become strong followers and that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. Stand firm and be deeply rooted in his love” (Ephesians 3:14-17 CEV).