1 Kings 6:2 “The house that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high.”
The temple that Solomon built was to represent the dwelling place of God on earth. It was to be the centerpiece of worship in Israel. Yet, Solomon recognized, and we should too, that no physical building can in any way contain the infinite God. We see Solomon’s view on 1 Kings 8:27, where he says “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” Nevertheless, in the verse above we are given the temples physical dimensions. We are told how long it was, how wide it was, and how high it was. As such, God was in a sense telling us that there are dimensions to the place in which He dwells. But what are the dimensions when not even the highest heaven cannot contain Him?!
We get great insight into this question in the New Testament. In Ephesians 3:14-19 we have this prayer of Paul for the church as Ephesus: “ For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” With these words we see Paul’s longing that these believers could grasp what it meant for God to dwell within them. Just before this he had told them the wonderful truth that they were all “members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” It’s a clear allusion to the spiritual temple to which Solomon’s temple pointed as a type. As such, believers, both individually and collectively, are to know that Christ dwells within them. It’s such a wonderful truth, but one that will take a lifetime, indeed all eternity, to come to grips with. What, for example, does it mean to be “filled with all the fulness of God”? What are the dimensions of such a dwelling place?
And so Paul prays that we would know the “breadth and length and height and depth.” Isn’t it interesting that he points to four dimensions of this spiritual truth, rather than three dimensions which are the limits of all physical things? Every physical thing that we know exists in three planes – but Paul is pointing to how the spiritual towers above the physical, just as a reality towers above the shadow of that reality. And then Paul follows this in Ephesians 3 with these words: “and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” What an interesting way to speak about love. What a strange prayer request, i.e., that we would know the love of Christ, but this love surpasses knowledge, so how can we really know it?
Well, since God is love, anything we know about the dimensions of “breadth, length, height, and depth” as it relates to God also relates to God’s love. And so we get a sense that just as God wants us to know the physical dimensions of Solomon’s temple, the physical dwelling place of God on earth, He wants us to know the spiritual dimensions of His dwelling in us and our dwelling in Him. For you see, there are dimensions that speak of His attributes, things that have measurements, but in such an awesome and incredible way.
First, let’s think about breadth (or width), as it pertains to God. What does God’s Word tell us about wideness as it relates to Him? What’s this spiritual dimension? Immediately my mind turns to Psalm 103:12, which tells us that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” And so there is a wideness to God’s forgiveness, but since east never meets west, this points to an infinite wideness. It’s the kind of forgiveness that forgives seventy times seven. And doesn’t this all point to his measureless love. It’s an incredible thing, this wideness of God, but it’s knowable to those in whom He dwells.
Next, the dimension of length. With this measurement, my thoughts turn to time. Our God is the great I AM. It means He always was and He always will be. He is the only being in the entire universe Who is like the Old Testament priest Melchizedek, one “having neither beginning of days nor end of life (Hebrews 7:3).” And so we see the everlasting nature of God’s attributes. Here is One whose “steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100:5).” Yes, God’s length has a dimension, but that dimension is infinite. It has no beginning and no end.
What about God’s “height”? What does the Bible tell us about this? My mind turns to Isaiah 55:9 where the Lord tells us that “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” And then to Psalm 139:6 where David, in thinking about the wisdom and knowledge of God, and in particular God’s infinite knowledge of him, says this: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” David continues in this Psalm to lift high such attributes of God as His presence in every place at every time, and His awesome and His high and infinite thoughts which are like the sands of the sea. Yes, God’s knowledge has a dimension and so do His ways, but again, this measure is infinitude. He alone is the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent One.
And finally, God’s depth. To what can we point to here? Again, it’s such a measureless thing, but its dimensions are told to us in God’s Word. Here my thoughts turn toward God’s measureless condescension, that God should come to earth as a man. Paul puts it this way in Philippians 2:6-8 as He considers the wonder of the incarnation in Jesus Christ: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Can you imagine anything deeper than this? Can we even put into words such infinite love? Yet it has been described for us. It has been measured though the measuring cup has no end.
What wonderful dimensions we are given of God’s dwelling place. What measureless dimensions to His love. And it’s in this same spirit that after Paul prays that we will know “the breadth and length and height and depth” that Paul prays this about those who are filled with His Spirit: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).” May God help us to have an understanding of these wonders that surpass knowledge. May God open out eyes to the magnificence of our Savior’s breadth and length and height and depth. Praise be to His glorious name!