God's Dwelling Place

For my morning devotions this year, I am working through the book of Exodus.  This past week and a half, I have been diving deeper into Moses' song that he wrote in praise of God Almighty after Israel was delivered through the Red Sea and Pharaoh and his men were destroyed.  I was struck by verse 13 in chapter 15.

"In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation."

In this verse, I was drawn to the phrase "You have guided them to Your holy habitation".  I spent the remainder of the day meditating on what it means to follow a God who desires to dwell with His people.  No other god that man has created is a god who dwells with his followers.

In the beginning, when God created Man, He created them to dwell with Him; to have fellowship with Him.  It says in Genesis 3, He walked with them in the cool of the evening.  But Man, in his rebellion, rejected God's authority over their lives and, as a consequence, lost that fellowship and nearness to their Creator.

Then in forming the nation of Israel, Man had another opportunity to have the Lord near, dwelling with them.  Although it would be from afar because of our sin.  In Exodus, God called Moses to build a tabernacle and place it in a tent.  There God would dwell with His people and His people would come to worship Him.  This was a dwelling that would be moved as the Lord led them through the wilderness and settled them in the Promised Land.

Israel enjoyed His presence among them until the time when Eli was priest.  Israel had treated God's dwelling place as an idol and good luck charm.  They thought they would win their battle against the Philistines by taking the ark to the battle lines.  There they were defeated and the ark was captured.  In Samuel 4, it says, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken."

Later, when David became king, he brought the ark back to Jerusalem and expressed a desire to build the Lord a magnificent temple for Him to dwell.  This temple which David's son, Solomon would build during his reign, was made of gold and elaborately adorned with images of cherubim, produce of Israel, and palm trees.  This became the new dwelling place of the Lord's presence.

But once again, just as in the Garden, Man sinned against God.  Israel violated God's law and sought other gods.  The Lord sent prophets to warn the people and called them to repent and turn back to Yahweh but the people were stubborn.  So God kept His promise to remove the people from His sight because they did not repent.  This is illustrated in Ezekiel's vision of God's presence leaving the temple.

But thankfully the story doesn't end there.  In Haggai, God promises that His presence will return to His people.  That promise was fulfilled in Jesus.  Instead of dwelling in a temple made of wood and gold, He dwells in the temple of His people.  Those who are in Christ have fellowship with Him through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  As it says in Ephesians, we have been sealed.  God dwells in believers and will not depart.  This is a glorious truth that drives us to our knees in praise.

But there is a further realization of His presence.  It says in Revelation when He has put His enemies under His feet, there will be a new heaven and a new earth.  All of God's people will forever dwell in His presence.  Our faith will become sight for we shall see Him as He is.  What a glorious day that will be.  Join me in sayings with John, "Come Lord Jesus, come."