What was it like for God to have His relationship with us cut off?
We focus a lot on what sin meant for us, but what about God? He created us and wanted – probably even more than we do – to be in a relationship. But things got messed up in the Garden, and while God tried to maintain connection after Eden, it was never quite the same.
Years later, in the wilderness of Sinai, God decided to take a new approach. He commanded Moses to construct a place where God would dwell on Earth. It was to be patterned exactly after Heaven (Hebrews 8:5), and God promised that He would be tangibly present there– it was called the Ark of the Covenant and was God’s attempt at bringing a bit of intimacy back to the relationship. However, it still wasn’t the same as Eden. God was present in the Arc, but humanity was only allowed to enter the Tabernacle once per year and come before God’s presence. It was better than nothing, but not even close to the original access we had with God.
King David also understood that God desired to be present among us. So, he asked if he could build a permanent residence in Jerusalem. It was built, and it was stunning. It was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World at the time, but it still wasn’t Eden. And just as before, only one man was authorized to enter before God’s presence in the Temple once per year. It was closer to Eden but still not what God desired.
God tried again. If man couldn’t enter before His presence in the Temple, He would leave the Temple and come to them:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV
This Greek word for “dwelt” is actually the same as the Hebrew word “tabernacle.” That verse could just as accurately – maybe even more accurately – be translated, “And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and tabernacled among us.” That’s why we see Jesus refer to His body as the Temple of God.
The prophet Ezekiel wrote that he saw God’s presence leave Solomon’s Temple (Ezekiel 10:18). God wasn’t in the Holy of Holies anymore. The Temple was never a building. It was the place that God chose to dwell on Earth. That’s why Jesus often said that the “Temple” would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days. It is because He was now the Temple. God was dwelling among the people, and they finally had a relationship with him. This is Advent. The Word becomes flesh, dwelling among us and redeeming what was lost in Eden due to sin. In theological circles, this is called the great reversal.
Here is how Pastor Rich Villodas sums it up:
Jesus goes to the Garden to be obedient to the Father, undoing Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden.
Adam and Eve hide behind a tree, naked covered in shame. Jesus hangs on a tree, naked and conquers shame.
Adam and Eve’s sin ushered a curse of thorns. Jesus wears a crown of thorns as he ushered in salvation from sin.
Adam and Eve begin in paradise but are forced outside the gates due to the curse. Jesus dies outside the gates but ends up in paradise and breaks all curses.
All that was lost is now being redeemed, relationship has been restored.
Daily Reading: Genesis 1 and 2