In the Old Testament there were many instructions for the Tabernacle, how it was to be built and with what materials. There was a great deal of splendour about it and it was to be there for God to come and ‘be’ with His people. God even appointed special people and craftsmen to work on these buildings for example “See I have chosen Bezalel and filled him with the Spirit of God … To make artistic designs,” Exodus 31:1. We know that much of the decor was highly symbolic and was a way of teaching the Israelites what their God was like and what He wanted from them.
In the Tabernacle there was an Alter and a Tent of Meeting and God said ‘I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord God who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them”, Exodus 29:45,46. At the heart of this place where God would dwell was a place for sacrifice and atonement for sin. It was the means God gave them to deal with that which would separate them from Him, and prevent His ‘dwelling’ amongst them – their sins.
God was able to come and dwell with a people who, through sacrifice, had found forgiveness for their sins. It is interesting therefore that it wasn’t until the Last Supper that Jesus spoke in that mystical way to the disciples about Him coming, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, to make His home with those who love Him. In John 14:15-23, He spoke about Him dwelling in us and us in Him. It was of course at this meal too that He made explicit that He Himself was to be the sacrifice for sin. Once again God was making it clear that forgiveness was to be at the very heart of His relationship with man.
Believing and accepting that His body was broken and his blood was given for the forgiveness of sin, opened the door for the Lord to come by His Spirit and ‘dwell’ in the hearts of those disciples. The sacrifices on the alter in the Tabernacle or Temple were no longer going to be necessary. He was giving them the revelation that He was going to dwell in their hearts and not just in a special building.
Yesterday we were looking at Paul’s words to some early Christians ‘For we are the temple of the living God, As God has said; “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people”. 2 Corinthians 6:16. So today let us thank Jesus that He became the sacrifice for our sin, that He paid the price in order that this could happen. Let us thank Him that having done this He Himself now comes and ‘dwells’ in our hearts too.