A couple of friends visited me last night on my birthday while I was in the throes of a tooth infection. These were not like Job’s friends, who tried to explain to him why he was having so much trouble in life. These were friends bearing gifts. One brought me a Mexican dinner (yum), while the other brought dessert (double yum).
Before they left, one of my friends noticed a picture on my wall and asked what it was. It is a print of the Israelites’ wilderness tabernacle with the nation camped around it. The glory of God is seen coming down over the inner court of the tabernacle.
A little background is called for. My husband and I saw this print some 25 plus years ago at some friends’ home and fell in love with it. We were unable to cajole them out of it, but several years later a ministry had it for sale at a church I was attending and I bought that $15 print.
Because we loved it so much, we spent probably around $100 matting and framing it in regal fashion and it has hung on our walls ever since. One year I was doing some cleaning and looked at it closer. I was surprised that in all the years we had it, I had never noticed the people standing in front of their tents watching the glory of God come down over that tabernacle.
What does this picture of the wilderness tabernacle have to do with us today? It tells us something important about our Creator God. To my heart, the print depicts how MUCH God desires to be with His people. How else can one explain the great lengths God has gone to achieve that? If you go read about the tabernacle, it was a huge endeavor, with the people giving of their time and talents and wealth (which was actually plundered from Egypt when they left) to create it, set it up, then take it down, carry it with them, only to set it up again at a new campsite. It was a portable tabernacle, but it signified the presence of God with them. That depiction of the glory of God takes on greater meaning when one realizes that that is what now lives inside of us who believe. To read about that first tabernacle, see Exodus 25-27. (Side note: It is my opinion that camping is a lot of work anyway.)
Here at the Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are reminded of the desire of our God to dwell with us.“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23
Remember that before God was separated from His creation by Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience, He freely walked and talked with them in the Garden of Eden. After they gave their God-delegated dominion over the earth to the devil, they were separated from Him by that rebellion. As one teacher puts it, they essentially “kicked God out of the garden,” thereafter siding with satan and bringing his curse upon the earth and mankind. Even nature is affected by it. Ever since that time, God provided a way to cover sin through animal sacrifices in the Jewish temple and get back into some sort of fellowship with his created humans. This effort finally culminated 4000 years later “in the fullness of time.” Galatians 4:4 “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” God’s Son Jesus was born in the likeness of man as Philippians 2:7 says of Jesus, “but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.‘
The Word, Who is Jesus, came in the flesh to dwell among us, choosing not to sin and give the devil place, (unlike Adam) and to demonstrate the original intent of God, and the character and love of God through healing sickness and disease, casting demons out of people and doing good to all. He is called the second Adam, a true depiction of the freedom that God originally intended for His created beings; then He went on to suffer and die as the innocent and sinless sacrifice for all of our sins, past, present and future, on the cross. He was raised from the dead because death could not hold Him as He had no sin. Satan illegally killed Him. The plan was hidden from him”which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.“1 Cor. 2:8. God tricked the devil, because he is just not that smart…not as smart as God.
God’s Son freely laid down His life to save us. This made the way for us to freely access the presence of God. Read Hebrews 9 and 10 for a very good description of the first tabernacle and the sacrifices of the Old Testament and how that is all changed now that our new High Priest Jesus offered Himself once and for all and taken away our sins forever, hallelujah! Now God can once again have open fellowship with His creation, which was always His desire.
I would submit, is it possible God is a bit lonely? He is perfect in Himself, but His longing to dwell with us is depicted in the Old Testament with the establishment of that first tabernacle in the wilderness and the subsequent temples in Israel. In the present day New Testament reality, He actually dwells within us who believe!
He is the only Person in the universe in His unique category as Creator. The scriptures speak of the church being a bride for His Son Jesus. We are intended to be that bride, the bride who will co-rule with Him throughout eternity. Revelation 21:9 speaks of the bride, the Lamb’s wife. The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians even says we have been raised up and made to sit together with Him (Jesus) in Heavenly places. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the 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 in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
What else can this mean but joint rulership? This rulership position is also referred to in 1 Corinthians 6 where Paul addresses going to court against your fellow Christian. “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 1 Cor. 6:2-3. It’s an amazing revelation. May God help us to understand all He has done for us and given us.