Where Does God Want to Live?

“I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory. I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; I will also consecrate Aaron and his sons to minister as priests to Me. I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. They shall know that I am the LORD their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the LORD their God” (Exod 29:43-46).

Rabbinic Judaism struggles with the idea of God becoming a man to dwell with our people despite what the Torah teaches, not because of it. The God of Israel did not go to such great lengths to redeem our people in order to communicate with them via sat-phone. Quite the opposite is the case. The book of Exodus presents a God who is so “anxious” to be with his people that he couldn't even wait for the Promised Land. He commanded them to manufacture for him a “mobile home” so that he could journey together with them all the way to the land of promise.

And if the God of the universe was temporarily willing to live in a tent, and later in a building of wood and stone, why would we ever think that he couldn't or wouldn't dwell with us for all eternity in a human body?

Far from being deistic (i.e., a theology of a distant God who doesn't intervene in his creation), the Torah's theology is thoroughly and unreservedly incarnational—the God of Israel longs to be our next-door neighbor. He longs to walk with us, to talk with us, that we can enjoy him on a first-name basis!

“They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever” (Ezek 37:25-28).

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