Wednesday, October 03, 2007



We are moving through 5 movements that demonstrate what God sees as most important for us in relation to Him. First--GOD WANTS TO WALK WITH MAN. Second--GOD WANTS TO DWELL AMONG US.

And now today, we come to the third movement. Third--GOD HAS DEMONSTRATED HIS PHYSICAL, VISIBLE PRESENCE TO RELATE TO US.

There is an interesting phenomena throughout the Bible. It's what many call the "shekinah" glory--the visible presence of God on the earth. This visible manifestation of God is the very presence of God. It's the majestic presence of God in which He dwells among man. The forms of this visible dwelling place--the shekinah--are many. It could be a brightness, brilliance or splendor. In the Old Testament the Shekinah took the form of light, fire, a cloud, a thick darkness or combination of these in some way. In the New Testament there are new forms altogether!

Let's look at a few of these occurrences. 1. In the Garden--It says there that God caused to dwell the flame.

2. Abrahamic Covenant--God made a "blood covenant" with Abraham. The blood covenant required that the animals being sacrificed be cut in half. Then the two parties making the agreement with one another lock arms and walk together between the animal sacrifices. This covenant means that each covenant participant pledges that he will keep this covenant until one of them dies. In this particular case God walked between the sacrificed animals alone in the form of a smoking furnace and flaming torch. The point was that this was God making this lifetime covenant with Abraham and only by God's death could this covenant be abrogated. God walked in this visible presence of a fiery furnace.

3. Burning Bush--A bush in the desert caught on fire and yet it did not burn up, because God actually dwelt in this burning bush in front of Moses.

4. The Exodus--The children of Israel were led by day by a cloud and led at night by a pillar of fire--both forms of the visible presence of God.

5. Mount Sinai--While Moses was upon on Sinai, the presence of God was demonstrated by thunders, lightnings, a thick cloud and fire.

6. Tabernacle--We saw this yesterday when God orders them to build an altar or tabernacle where God will dwell in the light and the smoke.

Then we come to the most demonstrable form of God's visible presence of all--Jesus--the Son of God. This is best explained in the first few verses of the Gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only [Son], who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Remember yesterday I said that God would do most anything to get your attention so that you will want Him to dwell among us. Well, here He did it. He sent Jesus Who was God in bodily form. All the fullness of God dwells in Jesus. This is why we make so much of watching what Jesus says and does and say and do the same.

Later on in the letters written to the local gatherings of followers of Jesus, it is said that we need to be careful to allow the "word of Jesus to dwell among us".

Since in Jesus we find the fullness of the Creator/God, we are able to lift Him up to any culture--Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Moslem and Christian and Jesus is most worthy of being emulated and followed. This is why we spend most of our time personally and sharing with others the importance of doing the toughest thing one can ever attempt to do--to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus. Whatever your cultural background, Jesus is well-worthy of following. You see, if you abide in Jesus and He abides in you, that's a relationship that no religion or religious system can match. As a Buddhist friend of mine once told me, "You know, Jesus trumps everything and everyone else." This is why a most holy man of our generation, the Dalai Lama, said, "I am not worthy to tie Jesus' shoes."

Why? Because He is the ultimate dwelling place of God.



This week I am working my way through what I call the "heaven-to-earth" connection. There are 5 movements of God throughout Biblical history that demonstrate what God wants to do with man more than anything else.


Today we come to the second. 2-GOD WANTS TO DWELL AMONG HIS PEOPLE.

I recently ran across an insightful blogger on the internet, Tim Callies. I was first struck by what he said about "church", he says, "I am proposing that there may come a point in a Christian's life where it is obvious 'the Lord has left the building' and it is time to find out with whom He is meeting so you can be there."

I couldn't have said it better! You see, God wants to dwell among His people on planet earth. In a very real sense, this is what will distinguish God and His people from all others. In Exodus 25:8 God says, "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them."

This theme of purpose is extended to the very end of the Bible. In the last book of the Bible in Revelation 21:3, it says, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.'"

God commands Moses to oversee the building of a sanctuary in which He will dwell. Israel is promised God's very presence. At the very establishment of the nation of Israel, God's presence becomes a fundamental characteristic of the nation's identity. They will be marked by God's presence. To be God's people was to have God's presence. In Exodus 33, following the incident with the golden calf, God promises to have His presence go with Moses and with the people. Moses says, "Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?" Never before has God dwelt with man in this way.

Man had free fellowship with God in the Garden, but God did not dwell there. God met with Moses on Mt. Sinai in a powerful way, but God did not dwell there. Now God commands Moses to make a tent, a tabernacle, so He could live with them. God takes up residence in their midst!

The location of the tabernacle points to this, for it was to be in the middle with the Twelve Tribes arranged around it. This is exactly where a king's tent would be located when he would lead his people into battle. And there dwelt the Divine warrior. When the people entered the Promised Land, this dwelling--a portable tabernacle--would be replaced by a permanent dwelling place--the Temple, so that God would rest with His people. This shows us first that these dwellings were the mark of God's presence with His people and in doing so He identifies with His people.

Again, this is why God asked Adam and Eve, "Where are you?" And, as His people continued to grow and gather together outside the Garden God was always doing anything He could do to bring His people closer to Himself. But even more than this, He wanted to dwell among His people.

Let me ask you something. Have you ever felt the presence of God as you gather with His people? God is willing to do anything He has to do to get close to you. Rob Bell says that God is saying, "I want to get down there!" And when God shows up among His people, some amazing things happen and people are touched with His loving and healing touch.

Are you looking for God to bring His presence to you? Are you looking for God to dwell among you and your relationships? He's doing His best to find you, so He can dwell with you!