You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
The presence of God is vital to every Christ-follower. Moses did not want to proceed on their journey unless God Himself was going with them to the extent that unless God was going, Israel was not going.
“…Consider too that this nation is your people.” And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” (Ex 33:13-17)
We can trace the presence of God through Scripture (this is by no means exhaustive):
At creation (Genesis 2) there is interaction between Adam and God – he was in God’s presence and after the fall, the Lord was walking in the garden and Adam and Eve hid themselves from God’s presence (that’s what sin does). This was followed by God driving them from the garden (Gen 3:24).
After his dream, Jacob built a pillar as a place of remembrance – a place where he encountered God’s presence (Gen 28:10-22). Abram built an altar for sacrifice after the Lord appeared to him (Genesis 12:7).
After the exodus from Egypt – God went before Moses and the Israelites as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). Moses pitched a tent outside the camp which he called the tent of meeting. A place people would go to seek the Lord. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses… Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:9, 11).
God instructed Moses to make the Ark of the Covenant: “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel” (Ex 25: 17-22).
The tabernacle became the location of the Ark of the Covenant that represented the presence of God to the Israelites. The tabernacle and the Ark were mobile – the tabernacle was taken down, moved and set up again whenever the pillar of cloud or the pillar of fire moved. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys (Exodus 40:34-38).
Four hundred and eighty years after the exodus from Egypt, Solomon began to build the House of the Lord which took him 7 years to complete. When it was completed, the Ark was brought in and placed in the temple. And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord (1 Kings 8:10-11).
Fast forward to the New Testament.
Jesus – God incarnate – came to earth to dwell with man. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… (John 1:14)
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He promised that He would not leave us orphans, but would send the Holy Spirit, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17). The Spirit of God dwells in us today. Until that time we will see Him face to face.
Heaven –And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place 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” (Revelation 21:3).
This sisters is what makes heaven, heaven: Jesus is there. And we will forever be in HIS presence. AWESOME.
Written by Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and is the Executive Director & CEO of Changed Choices, a Christian non-profit in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think About This: “Suffering has the power to expose what you have been trusting all along. If you lose your hope when your physical body fails, maybe your hope wasn’t really in your Savior after all. It was humbling to confess that what I thought was faith was actually self-reliance” ―