Being with the Lord
‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.’ John 1:14
You can listen to Melvin reading this meditation here:
One of the most astonishing and almost incredible occurrences in the Old Testament was the dwelling of Yahweh amongst his people. This happened in special places like the tabernacle - the mobile tent, which the Israelites carried during the wilderness wonderings - and later, the Temple Solomon built when the Shekinah glory would descend. It was incredible for at last two reasons.
First, God is infinite and transcendent - in short he is beyond creation. As Solomon expressed it in his prayer at the dedication of the Temple, “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27) The short answer is ‘no’. But such is God’s condescension - literally his willingness to come down, that he does.
Second, God is holy. Just as oil and water cannot mix and light dispels darkness, so the appearance of a holy God would ordinarily mark our demise as Isaiah felt only too keenly when he saw merely the hem of the Lord’s robe the temple, “ 'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.' ” (Isaiah 6:5).
In both cases God makes provision for our weakness. In the first, in his omnipotence he accommodates himself to space and time without ceasing to be God. In the second, he provides sacrifice for sin to be atoned enabling us to remain in his presence without being destroyed.
Both we now see perfectly fulfilled in Jesus, ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling (pitched his tent) among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’ (John 1:14). This was the moment in history where God became a man, without ceasing to be God, to dwell with us and to enable us to dwell with him for ever, securing his presence with us in an eternal future (Revelation 21:3). He shared in human nature so that we can share in the Divine nature (2 Peter1 :4). John Calvin describes this as a glorious exchange: ‘This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us: that, by his descent to earth, he has prepared as ascent into heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, he has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; that, receiving our poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself that had sore oppressed us, he clothed us with his righteousness.’
Let’s continue to fix our eyes on Jesus and our future destiny with him which is absolutely secure.
O God, whose blessed Son was manifested
That he might destroy the works of the devil,
And make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life;
Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope,
We may purify ourselves, even as he is pure;
That, when he shall appear again with power and great glory,
We may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious Kingdom,
Where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Spirit, He liveth and reigneth,
Ever one God, world without end.
(1662 Book of Common Prayer)