Ephesians 2:19-22. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Nothing in this section of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is random. He’s not making stuff up as he goes. He calls the church a kingdom, a family, a building, a temple, and the dwelling of God. These are not new ideas. They are deeply rooted in the story of God. The story that God has been telling since the beginning. Paul is calling the church the culmination of God’s entire redemptive plan.
And it can all be summed up with this one word – dwelling.
God wants to make his home with you and me. He always has and he always will. He made us so he could be with us. Love us. Enjoy us. Grace us. Raise us as his own children. And he made us to worship him. Serve him. Love him. Receiving his grace.
We were made to dwell with him.
God wants to dwell with us.
It is the trajectory of all of history and all of scripture:
In the Garden God dwelt among Adam and Eve (humanity’s representatives). But when we sinned, God’s presence, and ours, had to be covered because of his holiness.
Genesis 3:8. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
When God chose Abraham as humanity’s new representative he placed him in the promised land dwelling with him there in covenant blessing.
Genesis 17:8. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
In the wilderness God dwelt with Israel (humanity’s next representatives) in the Tabernacle or tent of meeting. He didn’t rescue them from Egypt and leave. He pitched a tent and moved in among them.
Exodus 29:45-46. 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And 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.
In the Kingdom of Israel when David brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem he wanted to dwell with God so much that he moved the Ark into a small tent in his backyard. God lived in David’s tent for 30 years communing with David and Israel there.
1 Chronicles 16:1. And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.
Later God claimed David and his descendants as his beloved family and had Solomon build him a permanent house to live in next door, the Temple. For the next 400 years God dwelt with his household in that building.
2 Samuel 7:13-14. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.
Then, after years of rejecting God and his righteousness, God left. He stopped dwelling among Israel. The Temple was destroyed, the city burned, and the people carried away into captivity.
Ezekiel 10: 18. Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple…
But then came the promised incarnation. God dwelt among humanity in the person Jesus. The meeting place of God and man, of heaven and earth, was in the person of Jesus Christ. He IS the garden. The promised land. The Tabernacle. The Temple. Full of the glory of God. The presence of God made known to us in all its fullness.
John 1:14. 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.
Superman: the hero with us, but not indwelling us…only Jesus did that.
And the story doesn’t end there.
This is Paul’s whole point in Ephesians 2. God’s dwelling among us did not end with the person of the incarnated Jesus. It continues and gets even better!
Ephesians 2:22. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Jesus was God dwelling WITH us. But now the risen, glorified, exalted Christ Jesus dwells IN us by the Spirit. We are his spiritual citizens, household, building, temple dwelling.
And that’s way better.
Because right NOW heart change can actually happen from the inside out rather than from the outside in. We can abide (dwell) in him as he abides (dwells) in us.
John 14:23. Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
John 15:4. Abide in me, and I in you.
And LATER we can actually live forever with God without the covering, without the veil, without God camouflaging himself in smoke or fire or storms. We will behold his glory, his light, his beautiful face and not die! Rather we will be transformed by his presence as he dwells with us.
Revelation 21:3-5. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
What is “to live is Christ?” It is to dwell with God. And there is no greater truth, no greater beauty, no greater promise, and no greater reality than the presence of God himself.