Background music attribution: The O’Neill Brothers Group, The Holly & The Ivy from Joyous Christmas Carols on Piano
Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.
I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.
And they shall know that I am the Lord their God,
who brought them out of the land of Egypt
that I might dwell among them.
I am the Lord their God (Exodus 25:8; 29:45-46).
I long to be with my children on Christmas. It is, however, but a fraction of the deep longing God has to be with His children.
Humanity was created to dwell with God.
Michael Morales explains that the primary theme and theology of the Pentateuch as a whole is YHWH’s opening a way for humanity to dwell in the divine Presence. He writes elsewhere, The divine desire to dwell with humanity [is] the goal of both creation and redemption.
God’s desire to tabernacle with His people has been exhibited through His various movements in history. What began at Creation, in the Garden, God adapted due to humanities increasing alienation and estrangement from their Creator.
But He didn’t have to.
Humanity, separated from God, had abandoned their purpose. For the abundant life is found only dwelling in His presence.
At Mt. Sinai, God handed down to Moses plans for the tabernacle. God provided intricate details regarding every aspect of this holy place—from the frames, clasps, furnishings, posts, pegs, and curtains. But, because it was portable, by its very nature it was temporary. However, it was altogether glorious because God was there.
The beauty and brilliance of God’s plan was in its community involvement. God prepared a people . . . to prepare others . . . to prepare a place. He first prepared people—with skills, resources, materials and, most especially, His Spirit. Then, He used them to prepare others. Together they used what He gifted to prepare a dwelling place among them.
After God established the land through His servant King David, another dwelling place was prepared among them. Building plans for the temple were given to King Solomon (1 Kings 6:11-13; 6:19).
It took seven years to complete the first temple, by the labor of over 30,000 people. It stood from 960-586 BC. Zerubbabel rebuilt the temple in 515 BC. It was again reconstructed by Herod. That dwelling stood from 20 BC to 70 AD. But God’s manifest presence seemed to have vacated the premises.
What was God’s next move?
God came to dwell among humanity in the flesh (John 1:14)!
Jesus, God’s Dwelling Place.
God, in Christ, returned to His temple.
But He went even further still. Preposterously so.
He died the most tortuous of deaths, to be raised and return on High, in order to dwell within (1 Corinthians 3:16).
God had Solomon prepare an inner sanctuary within the temple, to set the Ark of the Covenant, representing the Presence of God among His people. The inner sanctuary relocated to inner self. From a building carved from stone to living flesh.
The tent of your body is a holy place . . . His most holy space—where He desires to tabernacle with you.
Scripture further teaches us that, in Christ, we are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). We are not stand-alone temples. Rather, we are being built up together, united as one by the Holy Spirit. We in Him—He in us.
God has been preparing a place where He could dwell among His people from the beginning of time. The movements of God—in all Three Persons—propelled from garden to mountain, from tabernacle to temple, from Flesh to the Body of Christ, to the forthcoming New Zion (Revelation 21:3).
Jesus prepares still. He ascended in order to send the Spirit and to go prepare for us a place, an eternal dwelling with God—that we may tabernacle with Him in holy fellowship evermore.