There is nothing more precious than the presence of God. This series explores the story of God’s presence throughout the bible and explores how we can host him well in our midst.
In the first part of this series we began to explore the story of God’s presence in the Old Testament. God chose to be amongst his people Israel, it was an incredible privilege and yet we were meant for something more. It required a lot of regulations and ceremony to facilitate God’s dwelling place in the tabernacle and temple.
Enter the new Testament and everything changes. God with us takes on a whole new meaning as Jesus, God in the flesh, comes and dwells amongst us.
The word used in John 1 “dwelt among us” means he “tabernacle-d” among us. It is a picture of God’s presence being with us like in the tabernacle. Whilst Jesus was with us on earth He was God’s presence with us. It is perhaps obvious to say that Jesus marked a huge transition point for believers. Within a few decades of Jesus’ ascension to heaven the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Never again would the Jew’s have a temple in which God dwelt, a great transition had taken place, as shown by the tearing of the veil in the temple at Jesus’ death. Jesus made a way.
Jesus was God with us and when he left he did not leave us alone. He sent us the Holy Spirit. His presence was now available to everyone who put their faith in Jesus. God’s presence was no longer an external thing open to only a very select few under stringent rules. Jesus had met the requirements of the Old Testament Law. The Holy Spirit actually came to live inside every believer. 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”. We have become the temple. The place where God’s presence is found. So God’s presence is now with us wherever we go, we are portable presence carriers.
This truth alone is astounding, God has taken permanent residence inside believers. The presence that was so jealously guarded for generations is now given by grace. The Old Testament reveals to us the amazing and incredible value of what has been given. It comes to us freely and yet it is not cheap.
In understanding the presence of God there are some things to be aware of. God’s presence is in each of us who believe and yet we do not always walk aware of this. The bible also tells us that there are times where His presence will manifest, or show up in stronger ways we can experience. Where two or more believers are gathered there is a multiplication of the sense of God’s presence. We are also told that worship is the primary way in which the “sense” of God’s presence increases. We enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise. Worship takes us into that place of intimate presence. At times God’s presence can be experienced physically, emotionally and spiritually. Pentecost was a clear example of this.
We can each grow and develop in become aware of God’s presence. It is something we can train ourselves in. Jesus’s awe inspiring gift of presence was given by grace but this doesn’t imply we can host his presence by doing whatever we want. We need to learn what it is to host him well. Like any guest we invite into our house we can be a good or poor host. Someone could be living in our house and we could act as though they are not there, not offer them food, not check they are comfortable or simply have no value for them. We can do the same with God’s presence and yet we have the most prestigious guest at home.
So the question remains how can we host the presence? Hold tight the next part is coming… 🙂