The thought of God “dwelling with” people was a pretty amazing concept, not only for the Israelites, but for all mankind. “God living with people” . . . think about it . . . Divinity in close quarters with humanity.
God with man—Immanuel. What an amazing thought!
No one had experienced this kind of personal access to God since the garden.
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying . . . Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).
He gave Moses detailed instructions with this promise:
“I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory . . . I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. 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 29:43-46).
God set up a religious system of worship where unholy man could approach Holy God. His presence abided with His people for centuries, even when they were living in idolatry and rebellion. He sent prophets to warn them to turn their hearts back to Him, but His people continued to go their own way, to ignore and even reject the prophets’ call for repentance.
Finally Judgment came. The glory of God departed. God was leaving.
“Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them. The glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city . . .” (Ezekiel 11:22-23).
But before removing His presence from the temple, He left the faithful remnant with this promise:
“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
I am so thankful that when He left the temple, God didn’t totally write us off. God removed His manifest presence from the physical structure of the temple. But He left the promise of a future restoration and a new covenant. He would return to dwell with man, but it would no longer be in a temple of wood and stone. No, He would return in a fleshly tabernacle.
He would return as the God-Man to provide the new and living way for man to have access to Him.
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).
We are celebrating that event. I hope you know that God desires to dwell with you. I hope you experience that daily. Today consider what He’s done that you could know Him.
Why don’t you take a few moments now to thank Him?