“And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.”
Up to this point, the history of mankind was spiritually dark. In the comforts of a perfect environment, Adam and Eve were given what would seem to be a simple commandment; Do not eat from that tree. It was a command that they soon disobeyed, not regarding Who it was that had given it. From that time, until the release of the Israelites from Egypt, the scripture reveals continued lack of interest in God, because of which there was, for example, the judgment of the flood. Death reigned over all of mankind from Adam’s fall until the day of the above words, and its reign continues up to today.
Not long after the LORD’s words above, the Israelites made and worshiped a golden calf. This was against God’s command, which they had heard with their ears only a few days before. As they travelled from Egypt, the Israelites complained about God’s provision. They complained about the lack of water. They complained about the manna that came in a miraculous way. They even wished to go back to Egypt, where they were so harshly treated. The LORD delivered them from oppression in Egypt, and they wanted to return.
Even worse was their idolatry. They brought idols from Egypt with them. Instead of honoring and worshiping God, the One Who performed miracles to bring them out of Egypt, they worshipped those idols. This not only revealed the condition of their hearts, but shows the condition of every human heart.
But, the words above, which were spoken by the LORD, reveal something about God’s heart. In spite of the history of Israel, which He fully knew, He wanted to dwell among them. So, He gave them instructions about the dwelling place they were to make for Him. The details were very specific. Particular materials were to be gathered. Specific designs were given. The orientation of the tabernacle to the points of the compass was given. The only way to have God dwell with them was His way. But it was what He wanted! He told them what to do so He would be able to dwell among them.
God’s desire to dwell with His people is also seen in the days of the creation. Where was God the day that Adam and Eve broke His commandment? In Genesis 3:8, 9 we read, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” God was seeking for Adam and Eve, though He knew where they were and what they had done. They were used to being in His presence. But, after they disobeyed, they ran from Him, knowing something was different. But, He went looking for them.
Long after Israel arrived in the Promised Land, King Solomon built a temple for the LORD. It took him seven years to finish. In 1 Kings 6:12, 13 the LORD told Solomon, “Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: and I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.” Again, a promise to dwell among His people. This is God’s heart.
In Hebrews 13:5, the LORD is quoted as saying, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Jesus told His disciples in John 14:23, “… If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” He still desires to dwell among His people.
At the end of the world there will be a new heaven and a new earth. We read in Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” That coming day will include God dwelling among His people. Later, in Revelation 21:22, we read, “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” In the new Jerusalem, there will not be a tabernacle, such as the Israelites were told to build, neither will there be a temple, such as Solomon built. But God, Himself will be the temple; God will dwell among His people.
Since the beginning of creation, God’s desire has always been to dwell among His people. With Israel, with the followers of Jesus Christ, the church, and one day on this earth, God has and will make provision to dwell among His people. And so shall we ever be with the LORD!
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. (John Rippon)