Yesterday I finished up a series of eight messages on the Bible. I wanted to offer a panoramic vista of the whole Bible in a single message. So what themes should I emphasize? Or what verses could serve as an anchor point for the whole? Rather than going with John 3:16, or something similarly familiar, I decided to use Leviticus 26:11-12 …
I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.
And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
Seems to me that if we pause long enough to consider these words coming from the God of the cosmos, then we should be truly lost in wonder! What a thought – the God who is high over all desiring to dwell amongst His people, not abhorring them, but walking among them, choosing to be their God and to have them as His!
Surely this is just an obscure notion pulled from a dark corner of the canon, isn’t it? We considered together how this really is the way God is revealed in the Scriptures from cover to cover. Even before creation, the Triune God related, loved, gave. That other-centred orientation continued to show itself through history. God walked with Adam in the cool of the day, the creature made in the loving, relating, others-oriented image of the Creator. But then self-love broke into human experience…
Yet God continued to move toward humanity. The visits of apparently angelic beings sometimes referred to or worshipped as God. The pillar of cloud and fire in the midst of the people in the wilderness. The glorious (literally) presence of God in a tent in the midst of His people. Later the glorious presence of God in the temple in the midst of His people. This is the kind of God that we have – loving, giving, relating, desiring to be in the midst of His undeserving people.
We considered the terrible scene of God’s shekinah glory departing the temple in Ezekiel, but coming back again, veiled in flesh (about six or seven pounds of it) in the arms of Mary and Joseph. The ultimate demonstration of God’s desire to dwell with His people and be their God, and they His. But his own received him not. Yet He is coming back again, in majesty and glory, to reign. And of course there is the eternal anticipation of being forever with the Lord, and being in His Father’s house.
It wouldn’t be right to miss the glorious teaching of the Bible in respect to God’s presence today either. Christ did not leave us as orphans, but sent another counselor to be with us. We are being built into a dwelling for God, we are the temple right now, He is with us always, to the very end of the age. Christ has backed up the moving truck and fully moved in to dwell in us. Yet we long for the day when our faith shall be sight, when we shall see Him, face to face!
I’m inclined to think that Leviticus 26:11-12 isn’t quite so obscure after all. In fact, I wonder if John had it in mind when he wrote Revelation 21:3 …
Behold, the dwelling of God is with man. He will dwell with them,
and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
I find panoramic views of the Scriptures to be a feast that delights the soul. Would you choose Leviticus 26:11-12 as a good anchor point, or does another come to mind? What Bible-wide theme do you find to be a soul delighting feast?