The Tabernacle of God Is with Men

December 3, 2018

John 1:14-18

Trying to please the Lord isn’t always as easy as we might like. Inevitably we fall short in our efforts. But God sent Jesus to meet us at our point of need.

John 1:14 tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The word “dwelt” means “to tabernacle among” or “to pitch one’s tent among.” It refers back to Exodus: “The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34). Moses’ tabernacle was indeed a dwelling place for God, but it was also a prophetic visualization of the Word, Jesus Christ, becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

The Glory of God

The tabernacle, where man could meet with God and worship Him, was humble in exterior, but what made it significant was that the glory of God resided on it. And so it was with Jesus. He was humble in appearance, but the glory of God emanated forth from Him.

That glory has significant impact on our efforts to please God.

John tells us that the glory of Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Grace is our greatest spiritual need. We have no hope of saving ourselves or of working our way into God’s favor, which we figure out when we try. But the grace of God enables us to live to His glory. We can stop striving and rest in God’s grace.

If grace is our greatest spiritual need, then truth is our greatest practical need. Grace gives us the strength to live for God; truth shows us the way we are to live for God. Trying to live without truth leads to self-indulgence, which leads ultimately to anarchy.

But the glory of Jesus gets better. From Jesus’ fullness we receive “grace for grace” (John 1:16)—an endless supply of grace. We don’t get grace just once for salvation—we can go to God to be replenished over and over as we grow in our relationship with Christ.

Grace and Truth

Life and grace and truth are found in Jesus Christ. Not in church or duty or a bunch of rules but in relationship with Jesus. The Lord draws us to Himself, saying, “Come to Me, all you who are weary. I will give you rest” (see Matthew 11:28). As we spend time with Him, He will reveal Himself to us.

The Old Testament law revealed only part of the truth: it spoke of the inflexibility of God’s requirements and of the judgment for those who sinned. When Jesus came, He brought God’s plan of grace and truth out into the open. Jesus disclosed to us that God Himself would fulfill the requirements of the Law, keep them perfectly, and give His life as a sacrifice for sinners—for us. Apart from the revelation of the New Testament, the Old Testament is an unsolvable riddle. The missing piece of the puzzle, Jesus, is discovered in the New Testament.

Jesus showed us God. In the Greek, John 1:18 says, “The only begotten God … has declared Him”—a clear reference to the deity of Jesus. The Greek word translated “declared” is similar to the word “exposition,” which means to bring things out in the open, to help people understand them. Jesus, Himself God, has brought God out into plain view for us. When we see Jesus—His life, His grace, His truth, His rest—we see God.

God in Plain View

The men of Jesus’ day had the brief experience of God tabernacling with them. And of course, by His Spirit God is with us still today. But just as the tabernacle foreshadowed Jesus’ first coming, so the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us foreshadows more yet to come: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people” (Revelation 21:3).

One day the tabernacle will be permanent among men, and we will dwell in the Lord’s presence, at rest in His unlimited supply of grace, forever.

Are you trying to please God by following rules, or are you living in the fullness of His grace? The supply of God’s grace is endless. Spend time with the Lord today and ask Him for a fresh dose of “grace upon grace” to help you live for His glory.