God’s Desire to Be With Us “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8
As Christ followers we know we are to be kind to everyone. But be honest. Isn’t it true that there are some people you will be kind to but you really don’t want to be with? (Honesty can be a hard thing.) It’s like the old saying, “I love you but I don’t like you.” I’m not saying it’s a good thing—but we do this!
I for one could understand why God would love us but not like us. The only thing is, that is just not the way it is. Amazing as it may seem God actually desires to be with us. God dwelling among His people is a consistent theme throughout scripture. God told Moses, “And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). It gets even better! Listen to what our holy God said in Leviticus 26:11-12. “I will set My tabernacle among you...I will walk among you and be your God and you shall be My people.” If it sounds like God really wants to hang around us its because He does.
There’s another wrinkle to this however. If we are to enjoy God’s presence dwelling among us we must be faithful to Him...not perfect, but faithful. Unfaithfulness to God is called idolatry in the Bible. “Adulterers and adulteresses!” James cried to those who were “friends with the world and enemies of God” (James 4:4). When the bride of Christ finds a new love God retreats and leaves us to what we really want. Even then He longs to be with us and does whatever it takes to bring us back. Why? Because He desires to be with us and among us.
When God threatened to destroy the people because of their gross idolatry Moses reminded Him that this would hurt His reputation among the nations. “They have heard that You, LORD, are among these people; that You, LORD, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night” (Numbers 14:14). God wants all people to know that He is real and that He has a people. He does this by dwelling among His people. All the nations had heard...they all knew that the LORD was among His people and that He actually appeared to them and led them with the cloud and the fiery pillar. The invisible God made Himself visible to His people and in doing so made Himself known to all people that they too might believe.
As I think of all this I realize an awesome truth. We make God invisible to others when we push Him aside and go after idols of lust, greed and ambition. Conversely, we make God real and visible to others when we walk with Him faithfully and enjoy His presence among us. It may not be a cloud or pillar of fire but it will be very real. God will dwell among us and make Himself known to us. The Bible calls these manifestations the glory of God.
The God we know and serve wants to dwell with us. It is personal to Him. It always has been. He wants us to be His people. He wants to be our God. And He wants everyone to know it!
What has captured your fancy and caused your heart to wander from God? Who or what is it that has become the object of your supreme affection in place of the Lord? Look what you’re missing—the abiding presence and glory of God. Oh, that God would be pleased to once again dwell among His people. Oh, that we would want it that way.