In His determination to enter into relationship with men and women in this world and in the new heavens and earth, God as infinite spirit, present everywhere, also “positions Himself,” designating places as His sanctuaries and the centers from which He rules His creation and His people.
As He works our His salvation plan in man’s history, God’s dwelling places correspond to each context in which His people experience being set apart as His own.
a. In the wilderness:
“Let them construct a sanctuary for Me. . . . And there I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel” (Ex 25:22).
“There are those . . . who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, ‘See,’ He says, ‘that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’” (Heb 8:4-5).
b. In the promised land:
“For Yahweh has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His habitation.
‘This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it’” (Ps 132:13-14).
“The Lord is in His holy temple;
The Lord’s throne is in heaven” (Ps 11:4).
c. In Jesus’ new creation and His body, the Church:
“We have such a high priest, Who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb 8:1).
“Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. . . . But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21, 23).
“Jesus answered and said to 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 abode with him” (John 14:23).
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19).
“And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, on the one hand, but on the other hand, by God, chosen and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
“For this is contained in Scripture:
’Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner foundation,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed’” (1 Peter 2:4-6).
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matt 18:20).
d. In the promise and anticipation of our inheritance:
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. . . . But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb 11:13, 16).
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven” (2 Cor 5:1-2).
e. As the community of faith in this world:
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood . . .” (Heb 12:22-24).
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Heb 13:12-14).
f. In the new heavens and the new earth:
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them’” (Rev 21:2-3).
(Spotlight 8, Lesson 6 in Doctrine 101: Learning about God)