In the Past

In the past, God dwelled among His people, Israel, in the temple in Jerusalem, but that was destroyed. After the temple’s destruction at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, God promised that He would build a new temple (Ezekiel 40 – 43). Though a second Jerusalem temple was built, it was a shadow of the first and clearly not a fulfillment of that promise (Haggai 2:2-3)—a promise that was ultimately fulfilled through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus (John 2:19-22).

In the temple, God’s presence was focused in the Most Holy Place, an inner sanctuary that was constructed as a perfect cube. Only one man was permitted to enter, and he, the high priest, could only enter once a year. Then, centuries later, and with that first temple nothing but a distant memory, the apostle John received this vision of the new city of God’s eternal kingdom, and it is portrayed as a perfect cube—but now not one that would fit in a building in one Middle-Eastern city but one with an area as large as the known world of John’s day.

In the new creation there will be no particular place where God’s presence will be concentrated. There will be no special building to visit if we want to meet God, because there will be no distance between God and us. John “saw no temple in the city” (Revelation 21:22) because, in that day, God will be there, fully and spectacularly in a way that we cannot yet comprehend; and so everything will be temple space. This is a radical picture of something that is brand new—a transformation in circumstances so vast, so rich, and so wide that, as the apostle Paul puts it, we cannot imagine “what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

If we are united with Christ, God’s presence is with us through the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, our knowledge of God and our intimacy with Him are still limited. Our present state is certainly not all that we might long for, nor is it all that He intends for us. That is yet to come—but come it will.

Do you live in eager expectation of this unimaginable intimacy with God? If you are sincerely anticipating this permanent dwelling place with God, it will be apparent by the purity of your life and by a passionate concern to see friends, relatives, and neighbors come to know Christ. Knowing we have this great hope, we will be purified, even as Christ is pure (1 John 3:3)—and we won’t be able to help but tell others about Jesus, both by life and by lip.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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