Heaven and earth belong to the Lord, and He chooses to reveal Himself to people whichever way He chooses. However, somewhere along the line, the Jewish people thought that He can be contained in the temple. While it was at the direction of the Lord that Moses made the tabernacle, God never limited His presence to a location or a building.
The Israelites had a history with God. They had experienced and had heard God revealing Himself to Abraham in the land of Haran and to Moses in a burning bush and on Mt Sinai. They knew He parted the Red sea and broke down the walls of Jericho, but over the years they began to think that God’s presence was only in the temple.
Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?”
And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Acts 7:1-3
Stephen was brought before the religious leaders and was accused of blasphemy against God, Moses, and the temple. The first thing that Stephen did in his testimony was that he stressed that the God of glory appeared to Abraham when he wasn’t yet in the Promised Land. The Lord chose to appear to Abraham and many other Jewish leaders wherever He saw fit.
We all have found Jesus in different ways and different places. We did not necessarily find Him at a regular church service. God used people and circumstances to speak to us and to draw us to Him. That was God’s plan and that is why Jesus promised His disciples that they were going to receive the infilling and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit upon them to reach people. It was that anointing and God’s touch on His people that would make them live, act, and sound different than the people around them. Signs and wonders were going to follow them as a testimony that the God of glory was with them.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:21-24
The Lord cannot be contained to a building or a location. Interestingly, it is this particular mindset that has caused centuries of animosity between the Jewish faith and the Muslim faith as to who gets to worship on the Temple Mount. On the contrary, Jesus told a Samaritan woman that it is not about a particular location where one needs to be concerned about, but those who want to worship God need to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
The Lord of glory cannot be placed in a box, and we can’t expect Him to only operate in a certain way. He is God and He chooses when, how, and to whom He will reveal Himself.
Where do you expect to find God’s presence!? Do you expect to see His glory only in a church building or only during worship!? The Israelites made an idol out of the temple and their rituals. We want to make sure that our hearts and eyes are open to see God’s glory however He chooses to reveal Himself.