God’s Lovingkindness in the Midst of His Temple

“We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.” —Psalm 48:9

ONE aspect of God’s character is lovingkindness, and an appreciation of this facet of his being inspires us to serve him as his children. And this great privilege is made possible through the ransom-redemptive work of his Son. Reconciliation and sonship come through faith in Jesus, for, “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12) Those who have accepted Jesus and become his disciples have experienced the lovingkindness of the Heavenly Father. God deals with each one as a loving Father, giving correction and bestowing his grace and favor.

In an apt symbol of God’s purpose for his people, the Scriptures emphasize that Jesus Christ, by providing the ransom through which we were purchased, became the chief cornerstone for the spiritual temple, establishing the basic design for the whole structure. “Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:20-22) The entire temple is constructed with uniform specifications, with lines and measurements that were set forth by Jesus when he taught us the way of sacrifice, how to learn obedience through the things which we suffer, and to have a supreme love for God and for righteousness. Upon this foundation, the footstep followers of Jesus, “as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus. Christ.” (I Pet. 2:5) Because of our relationship to God as sons, we have the privilege of becoming part of his temple: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you … which temple ye are.”—I Cor. 3:16,17

Often, as we go about our daily activities, we experience the tender and loving hand of the Heavenly Father in the lives of each one of us, to fit and prepare us so that when the whole is completed and the last living stone is in its place, the temple of God will be a fit place for his glorious presence to be manifested. Although we oftentimes groan, striving to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, this prospect, as it was with our Lord, is an overriding joy that is set before us. We long to have a part in that future privilege of showing forth the lovingkindness of our God to all of his intelligent creation for ages to come. The Hebrew word translated lovingkindness (Strong’s Concordance #2617) is defined as ‘kindness’, but the dictionary elaborates and gives the thought of ‘tender and benevolent affection’. Thus we see God in a relationship of trust, like a sovereign protecting his subjects. We see his divine love flowing out in unmerited kindness—his wonderful grace bestowed upon those who seek in faith and obedience to do his will. God’s lovingkindness includes the very purpose for which the church has been called—to serve with Jesus as a holy temple through which God’s blessings can further flow out to the world of mankind in the kingdom, soon to be established on the earth.

We become aware as we consider God’s love, that it is an attribute that so well describes him, and in scripture is often associated with his name. The Apostle John wrote, “God is love.” (I John 4:16) When God declared his name to Moses, he passed before him saying: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” (Exod. 34:6,7) In this scripture, goodness is translated from the same Hebrew word that means lovingkindness, and the word mercy likewise has the same meaning.

It is here stated that God’s lovingkindness has been keeping mercy for thousands. The Hebrew word eleph, translated ‘thousands’, is from a root word meaning ‘to associate with’. God desires to be associated with the multitudes of mankind who because of sin have become estranged from him. His mercy has provided the way, expressed through the outworking of a plan by which the thousands upon thousands of mankind will be returned to him.

Thus, in thinking on God’s lovingkindness and considering his characteristics of love, wisdom, power and justice, we realize that we have been drawn by the power of his Holy Spirit to a knowledge of him, and that he has kept us from falling. We are being shaped as living stones into his character-likeness so that we might be used in the spiritual temple which, when complete, will reflect God’s glory to the world of mankind. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”—Eph. 2:4-7

The Prophet Jeremiah wrote: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3) Jesus stated, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32) In the kingdom, mankind will be made aware of God’s greatest expression of love in the giving of his only begotten son, and the great love of the one who was lifted up from the earth upon a cross. This will form the nucleus of truth around which the work of restitution will be accomplished, and mankind will eventually gain the wonderful things that God has in store for those who love him.—I Cor. 2:9

Another aspect of this matter is stated by the psalmist in these words: “Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness, O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment.” “Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness.” (Ps. 119:149,159) The quickening and the development of the church as a result of God’s lovingkindness is an integral part of his promise to his Son—the one who is to sit on the throne of David with an everlasting kingdom. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”—Luke 1:32,33

Jesus promised his apostles, “Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt. 19:28) Other scriptures reveal that Jesus, as the seed of David, will have associated with him all of the called and chosen and faithful selected during this present age. The Apostle Paul, in referring to the entire church, stated: “That he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” (Rom. 9:23,24) We have not merited this promised glory; it is received only through God’s mercy and lovingkindness. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of the regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”—Tit. 3:5

It is our privilege, as footstep followers of Jesus, to declare to others both the present realities and future promises of God’s lovingkindness: “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.” (Isa. 63:7) “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 9:24) What great comfort is ours in thinking about God in this way! May it motivate our lives to echo the words of the Prophet Samuel, “Fear the Lord and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you.”—I Sam. 12:24

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |