Some understand the Bible to be little more than a mixture of philosophical information and spiritual tidbits. Nothing could be further from the truth, for the Bible contains the unfolding drama of God’s intervention in our world. The theme of God’s kingdom provides us with one useful way of entering and following the thread of its story. And in every kingdom, there is a dwelling place for the king.
Throughout much of the Old Testament, the tabernacle was the place where God dwelled with Israel. While the tabernacle was among God’s people, though, it was not open to them. Even Moses himself could not enter when the cloud of God’s glory settled upon it (Exodus 40:34-35). Then, once Jerusalem had become the capital of the land, the tabernacle tent was replaced by a permanent building—the temple. Here was God, the King of His people, dwelling in the capital city of His people and their land. But still the way to Him was barred by the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple complex (26:31-34).
And then “the Word became flesh” and literally “tabernacled among us” (John 1:14).
In reading the New Testament, we discover that just as the people of old looked to the tabernacle for an encounter with God, now we look to a person—God Himself, who pitched Himself in human flesh and lived among us. John’s language specifically communicates that God, in Jesus, dwelled among His people physically and now dwells in His people by His Spirit (John 14:16-18). He is here among us. Jesus, in other words, is the true tabernacle.
This is what He was seeking to explain when, after He had cleansed the temple by driving out the merchants and money-changers who had set up shop there, He was challenged about His authority to do such an audacious thing (John 2:13-16) and He answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John explains that after Jesus was crucified, was buried, and rose from the dead, His disciples understood that “he was speaking about the temple of his body” (v 21).
When Jesus died, the curtain in the temple tore, signifying that through Christ we now have unfettered access to God; but also showing that the temple building was now obsolete, for its fulfillment had come. A few decades later, the temple in Jerusalem would ultimately be destroyed.
If we want to meet with God, we must go to Jesus. We no longer need a specific building or special icons or shrines. God meets with His people—when we are gathered and when we are scattered—not in places but in the person of His Son, the true temple. Whatever day today is, and whatever you are up to, there is nothing and no one standing between you and a living encounter with the holy God. The King dwells in you today.