1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
Why build a house for the Lord if your thoughts are that He cannot occupy that house? This was the ultimate shortsightedness of all Israel. It is the shortsightedness of all religions, less one.
Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
They believed Jeremiah when he wrote that the heart is desperately wicked so it never entered into their vision that God Himself should ever take up residence within the heart of man. Even now, today, learned men deny God’s ability to live with man, much less take up residence in the hearts of the corrupt.
God had always been an external force to them, a hovering spirit at best. They saw Him in the cloud by day and fire at night as they followed Him for forty years in the wilderness.
Exodus 34:30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
Even this was seen as an external or outward sign and not an indwelling. Israel and the rest of the world always looked to the outward signs, those things which God could and would do for them as met their needs and desires, to be fed, sheltered, and given possessions.
Know me and try me sure, but do it from heaven, not from within my heart. The words of Isaiah rang too true for them.
Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
They knew nothing about restoration.