Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
— Rev. 21:3
That has to be one of the most exhilarating verses in all of scripture. God, choosing to dwell with man. God, in all his glory, wonder and splendor, willingly leaving the heavens and establishing His abode in the midst of you and I.
Why? Why is God coming to us rather than the other way around? Why is He changing the place of His residence rather than asking us to change ours?
It’s happened once already when the Father sent Jesus to earth to redeem us from the curse and save us from our sins. But it’s going to happen again, and on an entirely different level, when we the fullness God dwells in the midst of us unveiled.
A common assumption among many Christians is that we “go up” into heaven when it’s all said and done — that we’ll dwell somewhere up in the clouds, halfway between here and Jupiter or Saturn or just “somewhere out there.” But that is not at all what scripture teaches. Sure, at some point we’ll be “caught up” with Christ and the resurrected dead when we receive our new bodies and are changed at the last trumpet (1 Cor 15:51-53, 1 Thes. 4:16-17). But the primary setting for the last three chapters of scripture is Planet Earth, old or new.
I point this out because I believe it reveals something profound about the heart of God that we sometimes forget. And that’s that He’s a crazy, passionate lover Who craves to be with you and I.
When a person is in love, they’re willing to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise. I fell in love with Heather and readily drove nearly 3 hours each direction a few times each month to see her. She did the same for me. It didn’t matter if it was for 2 days or 2 hours, we were both willing to make that commitment and sacrifice.
When the time came for us to get married, we were faced with deciding where to live. We were both willing to relocate to the other’s town because we were both in love with each other. We just wanted to be together. We eventually determined Jackson was going to be our home and I can’t tell you how meaningful it was to me that Heather would leave behind all she knew — her family, her friends, her church, her town she’d lived in most her life — to be with me. It still humbles me each time I think of it.
So now consider God, seated in the highest heavens, arrayed in light — beautiful, captivating and powerful beyond measure. Yet, fellowship with His sons and daughters is the most enticing thought He has. He wants nothing more than to make His home with you and I. His last words to us in scripture, “Surely I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20) speaks of His anticipation.
And now David’s questions in Psalm 8 come to mind:
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
These are questions we’re far from having answers for. There will come a time when things won’t be lit so dimly and we’ll have better understanding. As the Bride of Christ rises up in more beauty and purity, we’ll comprehend why “creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Rom. 8:19). But we just aren’t there yet. We don’t yet fully understand who we are, what it means to be created in the image of God and what it means that God has chosen His final dwelling place to be among man.
But it’s a revelation and a time we can look forward to experiencing. For deep inside our inner man, “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons” (Rom. 8:23). We were created for eternal fellowship with the living God of the universe. And He’s coming to dwell with us — satisfying the longing we all have for His manifest presence.