God made man for His glory and so that he might fellowship with Him. Right from the beginning there was a living relationship so that man was free to converse with God … “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). This communion with God was broken when Adam and Eve sinned by being disobedient to His word. Nevertheless, God made it possible for man to have fellowship with Him by less direct means.
Because man is a spiritual being made in the image of God, he cannot truly be happy unless he is in fellowship with his Creator. In the early chapters of the Bible we read of God fellowshipping with individuals like Abraham, and family groups such as Noah’s. It is not until we come to the final chapters of Genesis that the nation of Israel, as His chosen people, came into a covenant relationship God.
Through Moses God instructed the tribes of Israel to build a huge tent, the Tabernacle, where He could commune with them. Inside the Tabernacle was the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant (the Mercy Seat) was situated (Exodus 26). It is here that God’s presence would be made known to His people, the high priest acting as mediator. His presence was hidden from public view because no one could look upon and and live (Exodus 33:20). The Shekinah Glory of God would fill this place. The word ‘Shekinah’ is similar to the word for skin and dwelling in Hebrew, so we can clearly see the typology of the Tabernacle. Many valuable truths can be gleaned from a study of the Tabernacle.
The Lord Jesus Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ was “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). John reminds us that He was “the Word” (John 1:1), and that this “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The word “dwelt” is translated from the Greek meaning ‘tabernacled.’ He was the very presence of God with mankind.
The Holy Spirit
Jesus forewarned His disciples that He would be going back to the Father … “I go to my Father, and ye see me no more” (John 16:10), but He promised to send the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit would be responsible for bringing the presence of God to men. He would come and dwell in those who have true faith in Christ … “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16).
As we meditate upon the ways that God has chosen to commune with man, we soon realise that through the Holy Spirit He now dwells in the lives of believers. He has always revealed Himself, associated with, and offered fellowship to man. This is no less true with regards to the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that He comes to each one of us today.
The Spirit of God is now ‘tabernacled’ with man. Paul said, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Therefore we see that the Old Testament Tabernacle served as a symbol of what God intended since the Day of Pentecost … “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:4). God’s presence is not impersonal as with the Tabernacle, but is dynamically personal through the Holy Spirit. “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (2 Timothy 1:14, see also Ephesians 2:21-22; 1 Peter 2:4-5.)