This post is written by Andrew Hall, and is published as a companion to Unit 5, Session 4 of The Gospel Project for Adults Vol. 2 (Winter 2021-22): From Captivity to the Wilderness.
There is a great joy moving into a house. The furniture gets set up, the artwork is hung, the clothes are put into the closet, and the kitchen is stocked. We design and order our homes to provide maximal rest and enjoyment with others.
God’s Design for His Dwelling Place
When God instructed Moses to set up His house, He designed every room with furniture and artwork that reminded the people of Israel of His creative and saving work. The details God gave from Exodus 25-31 and 35-40 are filled with intricate specifications to reflect His glory. And when it was all complete, the Lord descended, filling His house with His presence and glory (Exod. 40:34-35).
As beautiful as God’s tent was among the Israelites, Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the tabernacle, all of its specifications and construction, was a copy and a shadow of the heavenly things. They were the blueprint of what was heavenly, but what is in heaven is even better.
Christ and the Tabernacle
And what was in heaven? At the beginning of John’s account of the good news, he tells us that the voice of God that thundered at Sinai, the voice that gave the word of God, that voice became flesh and tabernacled among us. God dwelt with humanity by becoming human. And John says that he was able to do something that Moses could not do—he saw the glory of God, and that glory is the glory that Moses heard about—grace and truth (John 1:14). Those words—grace and truth—correspond to what Moses heard about God: that the Lord is steadfast in love and faithful (Exod. 34:6).
When John saw Jesus, what he saw was glory manifested all the time—delivering people from the bondage of sin, healing the sick, and restoring rest for the soul. Throughout John’s gospel, Jesus is healing on the Sabbath, and this causes controversy for so many of the religious leaders (see John 9) because they miss the very purpose of Sabbath—the day was one of restoring and renewing back to what God had originally purposed from the very beginning (see Mk. 2:27). This is the reason John begins his gospel with “In the beginning…” (Jn. 1:1). The way back to Eden is by God coming near to us, coming in the flesh, coming and revealing His glory in forgiving sinners. And He does that not by the blood of bulls and goats, but by His own blood, to secure our eternal redemption (see Heb. 9:11-14).
God’s Dwelling with Us
And now God dwells with us who believe by faith. He comes by his Spirit and takes up residence in our lives so that by faith we are God’s dwelling place (1 Cor. 3:16). But right now, we only see and understand in part (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12). But one day, faith will be made fully visible. Every tear that keeps us from enjoying life will be wiped away. Every sin that separated us from the presence of God will be gone. And the dwelling place of God will be with us forever (Rev. 21:3)!
Until that day He takes us to the renewed Eden; we enter into the holy places by the blood of Jesus. Through the curtain where the cherubim guard the way, we draw near to God with no fear of His glory. But with hearts that are cleansed (Heb. 10:19-25), we come boldly before God, praying and asking and mediating not only for ourselves, but others (Heb. 4:14-16). And then, knowing that the presence of God is with us, we hear the words of Jesus: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching everything I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20). So we go, in the presence and power of Jesus with His thundering words, calling people to draw near to God who has drawn near to them by the blood of his Son!
One day we will move into our new home—a home that will never fade, spoil, or wear out. We will not only live there, but we will have the best time anyone could ever imagine—not with just any visitor in the living room, but with the God who invites us to live in His house. Forever.
Andrew Hall is the Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church, located in Ilderton, Ontario, Canada . He is a graduate from Southern Seminary . He and his wife, Melanie, have four children: Noelle, Ava, Calvin, and Brita.