God in Our Midst

“The ark of the covenant was the place of presence. While the Lord was present among His people in the exodus (Ex. 13:17–1821–22), He localized this presence in the tabernacle for the benefit of His sinful people. The tabernacle was constructed so that the Lord would be among His people: ‘And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst’ (Ex. 25:8). But in an even more specific way, the ark served as the place of the presence of God. As we read in Exodus 25:22,

There I will meet with you … on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you’ (Ex. 25:22; emphasis added).

Here is such a mind-blowing idea about the God of the Bible that we have to pause for a moment. The eternal God who is not constrained by the existence of time, the infinite God who is not bound by the constraints of space, the transcendent God who dwells above and beyond all time and space, and the immense God who fills all time and space condescended to the weakness of His people and became manifest for their benefit in one locale. This God is not bound by time, but He bound Himself to the time-bound experience of His people. This God is not bound by space, but He bound Himself to this box. He is above all creational constraints, but He bound Himself to them. He is everywhere, but He was there.

The psalmist set this truth about the nature of Israel’s God to song so that His people could celebrate Him:

‘The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory is above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?’ (Ps. 113:4–6)

What a God we have. What a God has us. He chose to stoop very low and to humble Himself very far for the sake of His wandering people in the wilderness. Even more, He chose to stoop and to humble Himself for us in His Son, Jesus Christ, and then to stoop as low as death: ‘he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross’ (Phil. 2:8).

The fact that the ark was the place of the Lord’s presence among His people brought great assurance to the people of God. This high, lofty, majestic, and resplendent King dwelt among His grumbling, complaining, bickering, and sinful people (Ex. 15:2416:2891217:2). Does that sound familiar? We, too, are grumbling, complaining, bickering, and sinful people. Thankfully, God is not far off in another land, but He is near to us who are sinners. The promise to the new-covenant believer is that the Lord is near to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us (1 Cor. 6:19), even as Jesus promised His helpful presence (John 14:16). The assurance His nearness brings was described by the prophet Isaiah much later in this history of salvation. Just as God accompanied Israel when they wandered in a wilderness, so, too, He was with them in the days of their restoration from exile. Thus, the prophet said, ‘In all their affliction he was afflicted’ (Isa. 63:9).”

– Daniel Hyde, God in Our Midst

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He Can Justify You

“Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. It is a very surprising thing—a thing to be marveled at most of all by those who enjoy it. I know that it is to me even to this day the greatest wonder that I ever heard of, that God should ever justify me. I feel myself to be a lump of unworthiness, a mass of corruption, and a heap of sin, apart from his almighty love. I know by a full assurance that I am justified by faith which is in Christ Jesus (Gal. 2:16), and treated as if I had been perfectly just, and made an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ (Gal. 4:7); and yet by nature I must take my place among the most sinful. I, who am altogether undeserving, am treated as if I had been deserving. I am loved with as much love as if I had always been godly, whereas aforetime I was ungodly. Who can help being astonished at this? Gratitude for such favor stands dressed in robes of wonder.

Now, while this is very surprising, I want you to notice how available it makes the gospel to you and to me. If God justifieth the ungodly, then, dear friend, he can justify you.”

– Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace, p.9-10

The Comfort of Assurance

“Now, what comfort can a believer have without assurance? It is the assurance of my interest in the land of Canaan, in gospel cordials, in precious promises, and in a precious Christ, which comforts and delights my soul. It is not enough to raise strong consolation in my soul, barely to know that there are mines of gold, mountains of pearl, heaps of treasures, a land flowing with milk and honey; but it is the knowledge of my personal interest in these, which raises joy in my soul. To know that there are such things, and that I have no interest in them, is rather a vexation than a consolation to me.”

– Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth, p.17