From beginning to end the biblical narrative is clear: God desires to be with his people.
Think about it: the opening chapter of Genesis assume that the earth itself will be God’s dwelling place. A place where God will dwell with his creation & his people. That image only changes when Adam & Eve sin resulting in their being banished from God’s presence. At the same time, God’s presence is now associated with heaven instead of Eden.
But from the outset, God’s plan has always been to dwell with his people in his creation. In fact, the trajectory of the biblical narrative points to God once again dwelling with his people in the new creation. We see successive steps in the biblical narrative to accomplish this goal.
The Tabernacle: God’s covenant with Abraham’s descendants results in the construction of a lavishly decorated tent that becomes God’s dwelling place in the midst of His people.
The Temple: In time the tabernacle is replaced by a more permanent temple. Where once again God is dwelling in the midst of His people.
Jesus: As God’s Son, Jesus is God with us. Jesus came to tabernacle or dwell with us. In his incarnation, we have the very presence of God dwelling on the earth once again.
Pentecost: God’s Presence in the Spirit, in the heart of every believer, seen in the gathering of the church. The church is the new temple of God. Eph. 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
The New Creation—A Permanent Dwelling Place for God: This is seen in Revelation 21-22 where God is inhabiting the entire earth filling it with his presence & glory. What John is depicting in the New Jerusalem is one massive Holy of Holies.
- A perfect cube is mentioned twice: Once describing the Holy of Holies in the OT— 20 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, 20 cubits high. The other in Rev 21:16 describing the New Jerusalem— 12,000 stadia, it’s length & width & height are equal.
- Both the Holy of Holies & the New Jerusalem in Revelation are made of gold.
What’s the connection? God dwells inside both structures such that the entire New Jerusalem is one massive Holy of Holies! Rev. 21:22 "And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb." By associating the Temple with God, John implies that the whole city is a sanctuary. The new earth is one massive temple-city.
Which leads one to conclude that what we see in the opening chapters of Genesis is a blueprint for God’s plan to dwell with his people fulfilled in the new creation!
For more details see notes.