“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. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
The vision given to John in the verses above comes near the end of the book of Revelation. It reveals in part what will be the eternal state for mankind. John said in Revelation 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Many more wonderful things are revealed in Revelation 21 and 22.
We are told that John heard a great voice from heaven that said that the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them. This is how God Himself has wanted it to be since the creation. In Genesis 3:8 we read that God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Up until their disobedience, Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s presence and Person. After they sinned, in Genesis 3:9 we read of God seeking them and calling for them. He knew full well where they were and what they had done. He wanted to be with them. But they hid themselves.
In Exodus 25:8,9 the LORD told Moses, “…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.” One purpose for the tabernacle was that God could dwell among the Israelites. Other scriptures tell us that God wanted the tabernacle to be set up in the midst of the camp. All of the Israelites were camped around it in a pattern that God commanded. He told Moses that He wanted everything made just like He had shown him when he was on the mountain. The things that the LORD told Moses to make were a pattern of His own presence. The tabernacle was a model of His throne room. And where He wanted the model to be placed was in their midst.
The great voice out of heaven also said that they shall be His people and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. His desire to dwell among them had a further aspect to it: He would be with them and He would be their God. In the verse above, those among whom the Lord would dwell are called His people. He promises this closer relationship with them; to be their God. Ever since the disobedience of Adam and Eve mankind has been God’s enemy. Romans 5:8-10 tells us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
History is full of the sins of mankind, and the Bible does not spare the details. To this day mankind in general continues to rebel against His rule. But He is not our enemy. He wants to dwell with us and be our God, and that is astounding. We would desire to avoid our enemies. In Leviticus 26:11, 12, God told Israel, “And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” He wants to be our God and one day He will be exactly that to His people.
Then, the great voice out of heaven said that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” All of these things characterize this life. We know all about tears and sorrow and death and crying and pain. But the day will come when they will all be done away by God Himself. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. God shall wipe the tears from our eyes. Sorrow will be ended. Pain will be no more. Death will be swallowed up in victory! As the verse above says, those things will all be passed away; they will be past. What a comforting thought! The One against Whom we have sinned will one day dwell among us, will be our God, and will be our Comforter.
When God is seen with men to dwell,
And all creation makes anew,
What tongues can half the wonders tell,
What eye the dazzling glories view?
Celestial streams shall gently flow,
The wilderness shall joyful be;
On parchèd ground shall lilies grow
And gladness spring on every tree;
The weak be strong, the fearful bold,
The deaf shall hear, the dumb shall sing,
The lame shall walk, the blind behold,
And joy through all the earth shall ring. (Hosea Ballou)