In the beginning, God created mankind with the desire to literally walk with us, live with us, and to be in relationship with us. God never intended for us to live the life that He gave us without Him. Even after we sinned against God, God pursued us in our sinful state.
8 Then Adam and his wife, Eve, heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day,
Mankind, however, chose to sin; going their own way and away from God and His ways.
they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
I believe that today, God is still asking that drawing question, “Where are you?”
He’s not asking it because He doesn’t know the answer. He’s rhetorically asking it because we need to be more aware of the true answer. God hasn’t changed nor moved, but where are we?
Mankind, however, not only chose to sin, but then also afterward chose to surrender to fear and to run from that relationship.
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
I believe that today, God is still asking that drawing question, “Where are you?” Where do we turn when life gets hard? Who do we run to when we are in need? What do we fill our lives with when we are desperate for comfort?
There is no place that we can run to where God is not there. Now instead of the thought of an omnipresent God making us uncomfortable and filling our lives with fear, it should bring us tremendous comfort and drive out all fear. That is, if we desire His Presence and are not trying to hide in our sin.
This morning, God is inviting us to go deeper into our understanding of Him. This morning, God is drawing us further into His Presence. This morning, God is challenging us to run no longer from Him, but to return fully and wholly back to Him with our all.
He’s inviting us to come to Him just as we are. There is no need to hide our sin and shame or to be afraid of how He might respond to it. His response is forgiveness, to cleanse us of all of our sin. Our Heavenly Father sacrificed His own Son to pay the price for our sin; the greatest of prices. He would do anything just to be with us. It’s time to stop running into our sin for comfort and to sprint full speed back into the comfort of His sheltering Presence!
From that tragic day in the garden, God still never ceased to call mankind back into a right relationship with Him; back into His Presence. And mankind continues to intentionally distance themselves from God…
3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.
1 And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
How often are we like the Israelites? We say with our lips, “Sounds good and will do!” Then, when it comes time to put our words into actions, our actions scream, “Have someone else do it, I’m too afraid!”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
God is still asking that drawing question, “Where are you?” Do we trust God and step into realm of the unknown where He is, or do we run away toward what is familiar? What are we missing out on because we stay so surfacy in our relationship with God?
What are we missing out on because we know about God, but don’t fully know God? What happens when we keep God as an acquaintance who will help us out of a bind and not a best friend who we live life together with? What are we missing when we seek after the works and benefits of God and not the heart and mind of God?
God does not want to be some distant deity far separated from us, He wants to be our friends! Jesus said:
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
God desired not just for Moses and Aaron and the Levites to be priests, but for the entire nation, all people, to be a nation of priests. In fact, getting a bit ahead of myself, after Jesus became the ultimate great high priest in the order of Melchizedek, we are reminded that now anyone who chooses to follow Him:
1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
7 Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. 8 And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. 9 As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
What does your worship consist of? Do you stand by at a distance and worship the God far away? Or is your worship true and proper worship? Do you run boldly before the throne of God in joyous praise like you’re hanging out with your best friend? Do you meet with God face-to-face daily or do you come to worship at a distance while others actually enter in?
I believe that today, God is still asking that drawing question, “Where are you?”
Are you one living out there in the world no different than those who don’t know God?
Are you one hanging out at your tent, staying near your comfort zone, worshipping at a distance?
Are you Moses who meets with God face-to-face to accomplish the business of God?
Are you Joshua who meets with God face-to-face and abides there to genuinely get to know Him better?
Where are you?
God established a temple, a place for Him to dwell among mankind. In the beginning, it was in the garden of Eden. Then, it was in the tabernacle with Moses as they travelled through life together.
Then, it was in the first permanent temple building that started in the heart and mind of David and was built by his son Solomon. After being destroyed by the Babylonians around 400 years later because God’s people forgot the true purpose for the temple, Ezra built the second permanent temple.
Though destroyed more than 600 years later, 70 years after the resurrection of Jesus, the western wall still remains in Jerusalem known as the wailing wall.
The permanent temples had different areas. One was the outer courts where all were welcome; Jew or Gentile. This was the area where Jesus flipped tables and drove out the money changers and those selling doves.
Then, there was the inner court. This was a holy place where the priests performed their various services to God.
Then, there was an inner sanctuary within the inner court known as the holy of holies or the most holy place. This was where the arc of the covenant was located with the mercy seat on top of it where the very Presence of God rested. Only the high priest was permitted to enter in and only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). This place was separated by the rest of the temple by a curtain.
There were very specific requirements of how and when people could approach the Presence of God. Most of these surrounded sacrifices needed to cover the sins of the people including the priests and even the high priest.
Then, God went and fulfilled all of these requirements for us, who could never fully satisfy them on our own. Jesus, the great high priest, lived the sinless life, shed His blood as a sacrifice for our sins, then rose again to new life. When Jesus died on the cross, this curtain that separated the Presence of God from mankind literally tore in two from top to bottom.
Everything changed because everything that God required of mankind to approach Him had been fulfilled. Now that the requirements have been fulfilled everything changes for us! The entire point is that the temple was never about a building where we go to encounter the Presence of God, it was all about experiencing the Presence of God!
God is calling us this morning to move beyond the outer courts, to move beyond the inner courts, to boldly enter straight into the most holy place and into His Presence. Not covered by the blood of animals, but covered by the blood of The Lamb, Jesus! In fact, we have the honor of doing far more than just entering in, we get to carry the very Presence of God with us!
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Paul wrote very extensively an appeal to his fellow Jews in the book of Hebrews explaining this fulfillment in detail. I highly encourage you to read through it and allow God to speak to you through it this week. He explained:
1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.
3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”[a] 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
This morning, where are you? Let’s enter deeper and further into the Presence of God! Let’s run away from sin, away from the ways of the world, away from the outer courts. Let’s move beyond the inner courts where we simply serve God out of duty and requirement.
Let’s enter straight into the Presence of God and know Him more fully. Let’s live life together with God as it was always supposed to be. Let’s extravagantly worship God with abandonment of self in the fullness of joy! Our sins are forgiven, the veil has been torn, there is now nothing separating us from God’s Presence! Let’s seek after a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit within this temple. Let’s demand that the glory of God fills the temple of our lives once again so much that we are overtaken and overwhelmed by it!