Wednesday, March 18, 2015

God's portable presence

David in his palace - Artist unknown
David in his palace - Artist unknown

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Chronicles 17:1-15

TO CHEW ON: " ' And I have been with you wherever you have gone…' " 1 Chronicles 17:5

When God turns down David's offer to build Him a permanent house, there seems to be a note of resistance to such a thing altogether: "You shall not build me a house to dwell in. … Wherever I have moved about with all Israel, have I ever spoken a word to any of the judges … saying, "Why have you not built Me a house of cedar"? ' " (1 Chronicles 17:4,6) (Implied: "No—I have not asked such a thing.") It's almost as if God prefers the coming-and-going Tabernacle presence to a fixed structure.

A temple would have its drawbacks. How easily their attention could be drawn from the One whose presence is there, between the cherubim on the mercy seat, to the elaborate and beautiful building. It and not God could easily become the focus of worship, with pilgrimages to the temple considered the important and sanctifying thing, rather than meeting with God there.

Throughout the Bible we have passages that reassure God's people they don't have to go to a specific place to find Him."Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go," God promises Jacob on his flight from angry Esau (Genesis 28:15). God makes a similar promise to Moses (Exodus 3:12) and later promises to live with the entire nation (Exodus 29:45; Leviticus 26:12).

God's portable presence continues with us:
  • Where two or three are gathered in Jesus' name - Matthew 18:20.
  • When we go to the nations to make disciples - Matthew 28:20.
  • Till we come to the end of time - Revelation 21:3.

In His presence…
  • We find rest - Exodus 33:14.
  • We find courage in resisting enemies - Deuteronomy 20:1.
  • We experience fullness of joy - Psalm 16:11.
  • We have His constant attention - Psalm 139:1-12.
  • We get comfort in trial - Isaiah 43:2.
  • We have joyous singing companionship - Zechariah 2:10.

God is not entirely averse to structures, though. When David's son Solomon finally builds that temple, God shows His pleasure in it by filling it with His glory - 2 Chronicles 7:1-3.  And He continues to delight to live in the skin-and-bones temple that is each one of us - 1 Timothy 3:16.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your presence around me, with me, in me, even when I don't feel You. Thank You for never leaving me. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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