‘I will dwell with them.’ (Exodus 25:8). This week we consider the tabernacle – the portable tent in which God dwelt amongst his people. Later, the Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us (John 1:14). Today he dwells with us by his spirit, and one day God will dwell with his people (Rev 21:3).
But what does it mean that God dwells with his people? Isn’t God everywhere? My three year old doesn’t know what omnipresent means, but he can still tell me that ‘God is even in the wall.’ If God is present everywhere, what does it mean that God is dwelling with us? Is he somehow ‘doubly present’ with his people?
Exodus 40 suggests that God dwelling with his people means he is personally leading and protecting them; 1 Kings 8 suggests that it means he is listening to their prayers. I’m still wondering about this, but perhaps dwelling with his people means not that he is ‘doubly present’, as if it’s about the amount of God, but that he is ‘personally present’, relating to us as our God, so that we can relate to him as his people.