Sunday 15th September 2013
Bible notes: Exodus 25:8
This system was the outworking of the first part of God’s plan to live permanently with humanity. Such is God’s desire to be among humanity that he came in the person of Jesus Christ to live among us as a human being. "The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." John 1:14
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus superseded the old way. Hebrews 10:20 calls this a new and living way, which all those who trust in Jesus can access to God.
And we are part of something even greater in God's plan to be among us.
1 It is his move
When the Israelites settled in the Promised Land and they were no longer nomadic the question arose about where they were going to set up the Tent of Meeting. God told them in Deuteronomy 12:5 “But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling.”
The land of Canaan, where the Israelites settled was a place where high-places and green places were sacred as they believed they brought a worshipper nearer to the gods and greenness symbolized fertility.
The Israelites faced the temptation to believe they must build their worship around already recognised holy places or the most convenient places or in the area of the tribe which was best at bidding for the privilege. We can’t cajole or persuade or influence God into blessing a place with His presence. He does not follow us, we follow him.
The issue was not so much the location as establishing in the minds of the people that it was He who set the agenda, not their desires, and certainly not the culture that they were moving into.
Canaan pagan worship was like a corporate business affair where ruthless deals get done. By contrast the worship of Israel was based upon God’s people their understanding of God’s mercy and grace. Their offerings are received not because they have any real merit but because God has graciously entered into covenant with them.
From grace flows gratitude and celebration. In the pagan worship, family members were often molested and murdered to appease the gods but in Deuteronomy 12: 7 there is a sense of family atmosphere.
God’s presence will be with us as we rejoice as a family in all He has done and underlying everything there is the deep joy of a covenant relationship based upon the grace of God.
In 2 Corinthians 6:16 Paul writing to Gentiles hundreds of years removed from the group of Hebrews who wandered through the desert tells them, “We are the temple of the living God. As God has said, “I will live with them and walk among them and I will be their God and they will be my people.” Paul directly applies the promises of the OT to believers in Christ.
As people born again into the family of God through Christ we are called to be a dwelling place for his name. If we are seeking the place that God will choose to manifest his presence and if we follow God’s agenda for worship and service then we won’t become a Shiloh, a place from which the glory departed and never returned. Instead we will be a people that will go on being a dwelling for his name.
2 Corinthians 6:16 “I will live with them and walk among them and I will be their God and they will be my people.”
These are days when claiming that promise needs to be a priority among us. There is no room for a grain of complacency when we look at what it means to be a mission in the UK in 2013. We face huge challenges, None of us has what it takes without know God is among us.