The Holiness of God’s Presence

The old church in the former "Ust-Zolicha" Russia where my great-grandparents worshipped.
The government may have tried to destroy the building, but the presence of God
continued to dwell in the "living stones."


Ezek. 37:28 Then the nations shall know that I the LORD sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is among them forevermore.


This statement comes at the end of the affirmation of God’s promise to the people. The people will never be deserted by God because God’s dwelling will be right in their midst. God’s reputation will be restored among all the nations of the earth through the salvation and unification of the children of the covenant. The people will be sanctified, or made holy, by God’s presence, for God dwells in the sanctuary. This is the residence of God, and when God is in the house, the house and all of the people of the house are made holy. 


Have you ever walked into the sanctuary of a church late at night, when no one was there? I grew up as a preacher’s kid and there were plenty of opportunities to make my way through the church building at odd hours, in the evening, and sometimes in the dark. No matter my age, there was something that I sensed when I walked into the sanctuary. I’m not even sure how to describe it, but an overwhelming feeling of awe and sacredness about the very space in which I was walking. If I was with someone, we shifted into speaking in soft tones, somehow not wanting to interrupt the holiness of the room. Sometimes I even made my way to the piano and sat playing hymns of praise to God, alone in that beautiful space. 

This image of God coming to earth and dwelling in the midst of the people is beautiful. It is the very presence of God that makes the space holy, and that holiness spills over to everything that it touches. This speaks of the beauty of holiness which we can experience today as we open up ourselves to the indwelling of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is present, we are sanctified holy. Not through our own actions, but simply by the presence of God in our midst.

Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the place here the Spirit is present today. At the same time, the temple is built up by the living stones. We each become a part of the entire structure of the temple. Therefore, the presence of God is in the midst of the temple, when every stone is filled with the presence of God. There is an individual and corporate understanding of this presence, an individual and a corporate holiness as well. 

If the house of God is filled with those who are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the house is holy. Maybe that’s the unique character of a church, where throughout the years, or even centuries, the people of God, carrying with them God’s holy presence, have come to worship on a regular basis. Long after the worship service is completed, there is a lingering sense of the holiness of God in that space. As a stream of prevenient grace, that holy presence draws us ever closer to the One who desires to dwell among us forever and ever. The result is two-fold; the restoration of God’s reputation in this word, and the presence of a holy people. 


Lord, may your presence fill my heart and every aspect of my life, to your glory. Amen. 


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