God's purpose has always been to dwell with men. From the beginning of time to its culmination, from Eden to the New Jerusalem, this has been his singular desire. "Do you not discern and understand that you--the whole church at Corinth-- are God's temple...?" 1 Cor. 3:16 (AMP) In the Garden, it was God's pleasure to commune with the human community (Gen. 3:8). Adam, in his rebellion, ran from God forsaking this intimate communion, cutting himself off from the presence of God and plunging future generations into its present darkness.
With this tragic failure, God intervened, calling Abraham and his seed, to whom he said, ''...have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8). Likewise, Israel rebelled time-and-again, forsaking the devotion of her youth, until finally her house (or temple) was left desolate (Jer. 2:2; Mt. 23:38 ). But God, in whom there is no variance, pursues with passion his purpose to dwell with men. Throughout redemptive history he has lived a nomadic life, moving from the Garden and then from one dwelling to another looking for a permanent place to live. As the Lord explained to David, "...I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel to this day, but I have gone from tent to tent and from one dwelling place to another" (1 Chr. 17:5). Also Jesus said, "...foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
And so, finally, at the climax of history God declares of his own Son, "This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it." (Ps. 132:14). The Eternal Word has finally found a permanent resting place in human flesh and "made his dwelling among us" (Jn. 1:14) The Greek word here is, skunoo - 'to tabernacle'. God, in Christ, has fulfilled all that the Old Testament dwellings foreshadowed. He is now the "dwelling of God", made without hands, and we have beheld his glory (Acts 17:24 ; Jn. 1:14). The shekinah (Heb. 'dwelling') glory no longer dwells in temporary tents and earthly temples, but now abides eternally in the God-man, Jesus Christ. The glory of God's own presence has settled into a human being.
The eschaton (the end) has been realized in Christ. He is God's final word. As the writer to the Hebrews shows, "God in these last days has spoken to us by his Son" (Heb. 1:2). In his humanity he has become, "the radiance, the shining forth, of the Father's glory and the exact representation of his nature" (Heb. 1:3). He is the climax of all God's outshining and the full manifestation of all that he is - "For in him all the fullness of Deity dwells ,in bodily form" (Col. 2:9). The man, Christ Jesus, has become the "one mediator between God and men" (1 Tim. 2:5) - remarrying the natural human and the divine which was our original state prior to the fall of man in Eden.
Prototype of a New Humanity
Even so, the fullness of God is not found in Christ alone, but in his union with his body, the church - "...the church, which is his body and the fullness of him..." (Eph. 1:23). "And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead...For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him" (Col. 1:18-19). The God-man, Christ Jesus, has become the firstborn of a new creation - in fact, the prototype of a new humanity.
First, in his death as the last Adam. He has terminated, once-and-for-all, the failure and epidemic of the Adamic race to maintain communion with God. Secondly, rising, as the second man. He is the beginning of a whole new order - a race of king-priests whose redeemed and perfected humanity becomes the dwelling place of the living God. Blazing the trail into the presence of God he has irrevocably joined, in himself, the human and the divine (Heb. 2:10-14; 5:9-10; 2 Pet. 1:4; Rom. 8:29; 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:45-47; 2 Cor. 5:17). And so, joined to him, his body--the Church or Bride-- now becomes the dwelling of God - "In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" (Eph. 1:21-22).
The City Church
This brings us to the oneness of the body. As the head of a new humanity Christ is not divided. The apostolic church was not denominated (divided) by theology or celebrity, but only by geography. Geographical boundaries and civil jurisdictions alone determined the church's boundaries. When the apostle Paul wished to address a church he would speak to the whole church of the city - for example, the 'church of God in Corinth ' (1 Cor. 1:2). Evidently, the church, even in these large cities, was functioning as one unified whole. "Church" had nothing to do with buildings, temples or congregations it had to do with cities and nations. (See also 2 Cor. 1:1; 1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thes. 1:1; Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; Rom. 1:7; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2).
Anything less was an deviation, provoking apostolic rebuke. Paul had clearly taught, "...all the parts, though many, form (only) one body, so it is with Christ..." (1 Cor 12:12 ; see also v. 20, 27; Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 10:16 , 17; Eph. 2:14 -16; 4:4, 16, 25; 5:30). And so, when the church of God in Corinth violated this oneness he wrote, "I appeal to you, brothers...that there be no divisions among you...One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Cephas'... Is Christ divided?... Do you not discern and understand that you (the whole church at Corinth) are God's temple... If any one destroys it, God will destroy him because God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple". (1 Cor. 3: 10 -13; 3:16 -17 Amp. & my paraphrase).
Now is the time to return to him - to repent of our pride and false value systems. To dismantle the mindsets and structures that are an enemy to the Spirit of Christ and the oneness of his Body. In this manner, we will become one dwelling in which God is pleased to live. All heaven will then erupt, declaring over our cities and nations - "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God". (Rev. 21:3)
You were created for greatness!
Pastor John Garcia