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God’s plan was always to dwell with His people. Moreover, this is what we read all over the Bible. God wants to fellowship with His creation. God wants to fellowship with you! Yes, with YOU! And for me, that is a humbling thought!
Mount Everest is the Earth’s biggest mountain above the sea level. Moreover, it is one of the most dangerous places on the planet, because many died trying to climb Everest. Just read the statistics. However, that does not stop people trying to climb it.
Hundreds of people, every year, pay the price to climb the highest mountain. They prepare themselves physically, financially, mentally and spiritually. And they know the risks well. And the probability of not coming back alive. Nevertheless, they do not seem to care about the dangers along the way. They just prepare themselves and take action. However, why is this so? What makes them succeed in their pursuit or die trying?
Many just want to climb it because it’s there. Others just feel attracted to Everest, like a magnet attracts iron. Some want to climb Everest because they want to do something meaningful in life and believe this will satisfy their desire. However, some people climb just for the view. (I am sure there are many other reasons and motives for which people want to climb the Everest).
I love mountains, but not that much to want to climb Mount Everest. However, probably my wife would like to give it a try. She loves mountains more than I do. Nevertheless, the thought to be on top of the world, in a place where one can see everything without any hindrance, is appealing to me too! On top of the highest mountain, you can have the perfect view with nothing to obstruct your sight. Furthermore, there is no other mountain more elevated than the Everest that can stop you from seeing the whole picture. And I believe this is a fascinating thought.
One day I was asked a strange question by one of my Seminary professors. The question was something like do you have a ‘mount Everest’ scripture? A ‘mount Everest scripture’ is the kind of scripture that allows you to see ‘the whole picture’ of the Bible. Probably, it is like you seat on top of Mount Everest from where you can see everything and anything because there is nothing higher to stop you from seeing. And while I was thinking about the question, many verses came to my mind. Like John 3:16 or Genesis 1:1 or— my favorite Bible verse— Psalm 32:8. However, none of them gave me the ‘whole picture’ of God’s plan for humankind. And my professor proposed Revelation 21:3.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’’ (ESV)
God’s intention, from the beginning, was to dwell with His creation. And fellowship with His people.
However, where can we see this in the Bible?
1. The intention of God to dwell with people was seen at creation
In Genesis 1:26a (TLV) we read
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness!’’
And in Genesis 1:27 (TLV) we read
God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.
[See also Gen. 3:8]
The Lord created man on the sixth day. And on the seventh day, the Lord rested (or ceased). Moreover, we learn that on his first full-day of being alive (the seventh day), man rested too. Man’s first full day on earth was a day of Shabbat! And Shabbat is a day of fellowship and rest.
You see, I did hear lots of people saying that God created us to work for Him. And in a way it is true. However, this was not God’s primary purpose in creating us. The primary goal was— as it still is— to worship Him and fellowship with Him. Before the Lord commanded men to work the garden (Gen. 2:15), God had fellowship with man.
This is the right order the Lord instituted from the creation. The order is: fellowship, then work. If we do not keep this order, our life will not be in order— it is not complicated.
2. The intention of God to dwell with people was seen in the building of the Tabernacle
After man did fall into sin, God’s plan did not change. He still wanted to live with His people and fellowship with them. He chose Abraham and cut a covenant with him. The Lord told Abraham in Genesis 17:7-8 that He will be his God and the God of his seed.
After Abraham’s seed became a nation— known as Israel—and after the Lord delivered them from the slavery of Egypt, He told them through Moses to build a Tabernacle in the wilderness. In Exodus 25:8 we read
Have them make a Sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them.
Even after all of their shortcomings and sins, the Lord still wanted to dwell among His people. Moreover, His plan did not change.
3. The intention of God to dwell with people was seen in the building of the Temple
Furthermore, after the Israelites did enter Canaan and did what was wrong in the eyes of God during the time of the Judges and asked for a king, like the nations surrounding them had, God still wanted to live among them. And King David was the one who wished to build a dwelling place for the God of Israel (2 Samuel 7). However, the Lord told him that his son would be the one building the Temple. And Solomon did that, as we read in 1 Kings 5.
When Solomon prayed after he did finish building the Temple, he said:
Then Solomon spoke: “Adonai said that He would dwell in the thick cloud. I have surely built You a magnificent House, a place for Your dwelling forever” (1 Kings 8:12-13, TLV).
And in Psalm 132:14 (TLV) we read [about Zion]
This is My resting place forever. Here I dwell, for I have desired it.
4. The intention of God to dwell with people was seen in the life of Jesus
In Isaiah 7 & 8 we read about Emmanuel, God with us. And we know that ‘Emmanuel’ is no other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Matthew 1:23). Therefore, even after the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian exile, God’s plan did not change. He still wanted to live among His people. However, now God Himself came to live among us through Jesus (John 1:14). God with us!
5. The intention of God to dwell with people was seen at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
After the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, He ascended to heavens, to the Father. However, He did not let us orphans (John 14:18) and sent the Holy Spirit to empower His people to be witnesses of Jesus (Acts 1:8). And that is exactly what we read in Acts 2. God is with us, through the Holy Spirit. His plan did not change.
6. God will never change His intention to dwell with His people
Moreover, even after this earth will pass away and Satan will be judged, and the Church will be with Jesus Christ where He is, God’s plan will remain the same. That’s precisely what we read in Revelation 21:3!
He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
Let us take hold of this truth as we continue our life. And let us never forget that God is with us. Moreover, God is in us (1 Corinthians 6:19).
And no matter how hard life is right now, a day will come when
He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Nor shall there be mourning or crying or pain any longer, for the former things have passed away.” And the One seated upon the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new!” Then He said, “Write, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:4-5, TLV).
Do you agree?
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