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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To Them That Love God

‘”To them that love God’ (Romans 8:28). This is the grand distinguishing feature of every true Christian. The reverse marks all the unregenerate. But the saints are those who love God. Their creeds may differ in minor details; their ecclesiastical relations may vary in outward form; their gifts and graces may be very unequal; yet, in this particular there is an essential unity. They all believe in Christ, they all love God. They love Him for the gift of the Saviour: they love Him as a Father in whom they may confide: they love Him for His personal excellencies – His holiness, wisdom, faithfulness. They love Him for His conduct: for what He withholds an for what He grants: for what He rebukes and for what He approves. They love Him even for the rod that disciplines, knowing that He doth all things well. There is nothing in God, and there is nothing from God, for which the saints do not love Him. And of this they are all assured, ‘We love Him because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:10).

‘To them that love God’ (Romans 8:28). But, alas, how little I love God! I so frequently mourn my lack of love, and chide myself for the coldness of my heart. Yes, there is so much love of self and love of the world, that sometimes I seriously question if I have any real love for God at all, but is not my very desire to love God a good symptom? Is not my very grief that I love Him so little a sure evidence that I do not hate Him? The presence of a hard and ungrateful heart has been mourned over by the saints of all ages.”

– Arthur W. Pink, Comfort for Christians, p.13

The Spiritual Creation of the Soul in the New Birth Presents God in a New Light

“It may be truly said, that the spiritual creation of the soul in the New Birth presents the being and character of GOD in a new light. It is like a new revelation of Jehovah to the mind. The unregenerate man does not worship the God of the Bible. The God therein revealed and made known to us, only in and by the Lord Jesus Christ. Worshiping a god of his own imagination, he rears his altar to ‘THE UNKNOWN GOD‘. Divesting the God of Scripture of His divine perfections–His holiness, His justice, His truth, His power–he completely undeifies Him, robbing Him of His glory, and annihilating His very being.

But, now born again, a new creature, lo! the God of the Bible bursts upon his new-found vision and his wondering gaze, as a newly-revealed God. Clothed with new attributes, arrayed with new perfections, bathed with new glory, standing in a new relation, the new creature falls down at His feet in adoring admiration and love, exclaiming, ‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear–but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.‘ Never did the being of God appear so true, the perfections of God so glorious, the character of God so great, the government of God so holy, the relation of God so endearing as now. Born into a new world, the GOD Sun of that world–the GOD of the new creation–unveils to the eye as infinitely, ineffably lovely.

Like a being born and grown up in a dark mine, and brought to the earth’s surface to gaze upon the sun in its noontide effulgence, the new created soul is astonished, bewildered, overpowered by the splendor, glory, and greatness of the being, character, and perfections of Jehovah.”

– Octavius Winslow, From Grace to Glory

The First Important Lesson

“The first important lesson which all need to learn is that we are sinners, and as such, unfit for the presence of a Holy God. It is vain that we select noble ideals, form good resolutions, and adopt excellent rules to live by, until the sin-question has been settled. It is of no avail that we attempt to develop a beautiful character and aim to do that which will meet God’s approval while there is sin between Him and our souls. Of what use are shoes if our feet are paralyzed. Of what use are glasses if we are blind. The question of the forgiveness of my sins is basic, fundamental, vital. It matters not that I am highly respected by a wide circle of friends if I am yet in my sins. It matters not that I have made good in business if I am an unpardoned transgressor in the sight of God. What will matter most in the hour of death is: Have my sins been put away by the blood of Christ?

– Arthur W. Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross, p.14

God’s Holiness is Best Manifested at the Cross

“God’s holiness is best manifested at the cross. Wondrously and yet most solemnly does the atonement display God’s infinite holiness and abhorrence of sin. How hateful sin must be to God for Him to punish it to its utmost deserts when it was imputed to His Son!”

– Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God, p.34