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Morning Sermon: The Gospel Of The Glory Cloud, Exodus 40

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 40

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. And you shall put in it the ark of the testimony, and you shall screen the ark with the veil. And you shall bring in the table and arrange it, and you shall bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. And you shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the screen for the door of the tabernacle. You shall set the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. And you shall set up the court all around, and hang up the screen for the gate of the court. Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy. You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar may become most holy. You shall also anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.’ This Moses did; according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did. In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. And he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent over it, as the LORD had commanded Moses. He took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark and set the mercy seat above on the ark. And he brought the ark into the tabernacle and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony, as the LORD had commanded Moses. He put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil, and arranged the bread on it before the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses. He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle, and set up the lamps before the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses. He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil, and burned fragrant incense on it, as the LORD had commanded Moses. He put in place the screen for the door of the tabernacle. And he set the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the LORD had commanded Moses. He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. When they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, as the LORD commanded Moses. And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.” (Exodus 40, ESV)

New Testament Reading: John 1:1-3, 14; 14:15–17; 20:19–23; 

Acts 1:3–5; 2:1–4; Ephesians 2:19–22; 1 Corinthians 3:16–17

John 1:1-3, 14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made… 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.” (John 1:1-3, 14, ESV)

John14:15–17: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John14:15–17, ESV)

John 20:19–23: “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’” (John 20:19–23, ESV)

Acts 1:3–5: “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:3–5, ESV)

Acts 2:1–4: “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1–4, ESV)

1 Corinthians 3:16–17: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17, ESV)

Ephesians 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.” (Ephesians 2:19–22, ESV)

Revelation 21:1–4: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. 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.’” (Revelation 21:1–4, ESV)

Revelation 21:22–27: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:22–27, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Sermon

I trust you are able to see why I have strung these passages of Scripture together. There is a theme that runs through all of them. And the theme is this: God’s glorious and gracious presence with his people. 

In previous sermons, I have drawn your attention to the theme of “tabernacle” or “temple” that runs from Genesis 2 through to the end of Revelation 22. I’ve taught you that the garden of Eden was a temple. I’ve also explained that the thing which was offered to Adam, Eve, and all of their descendants in the Covenant that God made with them in the beginning was life in the worldwide and eternal temple of God. Had Adam kept the terms of that Covenant – had he been faithful to guard the garden temple, to push out its boundaries towards the ends of the earth, and to maintain the worship of God and obedience to his law within that Realm, then the division between the invisible heavenly realm and the visible earthy realm would have been removed, and the glory of God would have filled all forever and ever. In other words, the whole earth would have been God’s temple.

This truth can be clearly observed in the Bible by simply comparing Genesis 1 and 2 with Revelation 21 and 22. In Revelation 21 and 22 the Apostle John tells us about the vision he was shown of the final state, that is to say, of the new heavens and earth, that will be brought into being at the consummation of all things when Christ returns. The references back to Eden are obvious in that passage. So then, we are to connect the two things – Eden, as it was in the beginning, and the new heavens and earth, as they will be at the end of the age and for eternity – for they two things are related to one another. But the differences between Eden and the new heavens and earth are obvious too. 

Let us briefly consider five differences between Eden and the new heavens and earth:

One, Eden did not fill the earth but was limited geographically. In Revelation 21 and 22 it is the whole earth that is renewed and filled with the glory of God. All will be Jerusalem. All will be the holy of holies. All will be God’s temple. 

Two, in Eden, God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. But in the new heavens and earth, the glory of God will fill all forever and ever so that it is said, ​​“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” (Revelation 21:3, ESV). So then, at the consummation, Eden will be greatly expanded to fill the whole earth geographically, and the glory of God will fill all permanently so that God is forever with his people, and they with him. 

Three, in Eden there was the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was a tree of testing. In the new heavens and earth, there is only the tree of life. God’s people will not be placed under a covenant of works, or a time of testing, in the new heavens and earth, for the work has already been done. The test has already been passed. No unclean thing will ever enter that place. There will be no possibility for a fall, for the Evil One had been defeated. His scull has been bruised, and his full and final judgment is near. 

Four, Adam was the central figure in Eden, for the Covenant was made with him. He was the covenant head, or representative, for the whole human race. But in the new heavens and earth, God and Jesus Christ will be central. “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:3–5, ESV). Jesus Christ, and not Adam, will be central, for it is Christ, and not Adam, who has earned entrance into this worldwide and eternal temple of God.

Five, in Eden there was no need for healing or for the wiping away of tears, for sin and its consequences had not yet entered into the world. But in the new heavens and earth “[God] will wipe away every tear from [his people’s] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4, ESV). There the tree of life is said to be “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2, ESV). And there we will see the “Lamb” who was slain for sinners. The point is this: Adam was offered eternal life in the blessed presence of God through his active obedience. But once sin entered the world, more than active obedience would be required. Sin would need to be paid for. The Savior of mankind would not only need to obey God’s law, therefore. He would also need to suffer in the place of sinners to pay the pentalty for their sins. Once Adem fell from his state of innocence, sin would need to be dealt with. And this is why in the new heaven and earth we will see things that would not have been present in glory had Adam passed the test. We will see the Lamb who was slain for us. We will see God wiping away the tears of his people. We will rejoice that death, mourning, crying, and pain are no more. None of these things would have been features of the glorious eternal state had Adam kept the covenant. But they will be features of the new heavens and earth because of sin, its consequences, and the victory that Jesus Christ has won for us.

By comparing and contrasting the Eden of Genesis 2 with the new heavens and earth of Revelation 21 and 22, I hope that three things become clear.

One, I hope it is clear to you that Eden and the new heavens and earth are related. Clearly, there is a connection between what was offered to Adam in the garden and what Christ has earned for us by his life, death, and resurrection. 

Two, I hope it is also clear that Eden and the new heavens and earth are not the same thing. Are they related? Yes. Are they the same? No. And I say, thanks be to God. When we enter into the new heavens and earth we will not be going back to the garden. Instead, we will be entering into the glory that was offered to Adam, but forfeited. This is the glory that Christ has entered into. This is the glory that we will enter into if we have faith in him. 

Three, I hope it is also clear to you that one of the themes that connects the Eden of Genesis 2 and the new heavens and earth of Revelation 21 and 22, is God’s presence with his people.

It has already been said, but I must say it again: Adam and Eve walked with God in his garden temple. They enjoyed sweet communion with him. He was their God, and they were his people. That relationship was right in the beginning, and it was good. More than this, when God offered Adam and Eve life in the covenant he made with them, he offered them a higher form of life than what they already enjoyed. Life in glory, that is to say, eternal and secure life in the glorious presence of God, is what was offered to them in the covenant. That’s what they were offered, and that is what they forfeited when they rebelled. In that moment, they entered into a state of death and were banished from the garden, that is to say, they were banished from God’s glorious and blessed presence.    

God’s presence, and man’s right relationship with him, is what made Eden paradise. God’s presence, and man’s eternally secure right relationship with him, is what made the state of glory that was offered to Adam so glorious. And when you read Revelation 21 and 22 you should be able to see that this is this very thing –  God’s glorious and eternal presence, and man’s unshakeably right relationship with him – that will make the new heavens and earth so heavenly and glorious.

God’s presence is man’s greatest good, friends. We were made in God’s image. We were made to know, worship, and serve him. We were made to commune with our Maker. And as Augustine has so famously said, “our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in [him].” Question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism also speaks to this when it asks, “What is the chief end of man?”, and then answers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Before that, Calvin began his Geneaven Catechism in the same way, asking, “ What is the chief end of human life?” Answer: “To know God by whom men were created.” Friends, we were made for this – to know, enjoy, and glorify God. This is the very thing that our souls long for, and yet, in sin, we forsake the fountain of living waters and drink from broken cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13). In sin we exchange “the glory of the immortal God for” for earthly and fleeting pleasures. In sin, we exchange the “truth about God for a lie and [worship] and [serve] the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Romans 1:23–25). God is what our souls long for, and yet sinful men and women know it not. Men and women are empty and discontent, but instead of running to the One who is able to satisfy them,  they rebel against their Maker, and seek satisfaction in the fleeting pleasures and meaningless distractions of this world.  

Friends, here is the thing that I want you to see this morning. The story of our redemption in Christ Jesus is the story of our reconciliation with God the Father. To be reconciled with someone is to be reunited with them. Reconciliation implies estrangement in the past. And it is true, the human race is alienated from God and at enmity with him because of sin. But in Christ, through faith in him, men and women are reconciled to the Father, for Christ our mediator has brought us peace. Through faith in him, our sins are washed away, our guilt is removed, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us – and here it is – so that we might be reconciled to the Father. This is about being made right with God so that we might commune with him. This is about being cleansed from our sins so that we might enter safely into God’s glorious presence. This is about being justified through faith in Christ so that we might be adopted as God’s beloved children. 

I’m afraid this is often forgotten. We speak often of the blessing of the forgiveness of sins and of imputed righteousness. We speak often of the blessing of justification through faith in Christ alone. But it is possible to forget the aim, objective, or end (telos)  of it all, namely, communion with God and our enjoyment of him now and for eternity to the praise of his glorious grace. Friends, this is the aim or objective of our redemption: communion with God to the praise of his glorious grace. 

If we paid attention to the beginning and end of the Bible we would not so easily lose sight of the aim of our redemption in Christ Jesus. Eternal and secure communion with God was the thing that was offered to Adam in the beginning but forfeited. And clearly, eternal and secure communion with God is the thing that Christ has earned. Revelation 21 and 22 provide us with a vision of that. But Christ himself did also say that he came for this purpose. Read for yourself that high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17. These truths are peppered everywhere in that text, but I’m thinking especially of what Christ says in verse 24: “Father, I desire that they also [that is to say, all who believe], whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24, ESV). You see, our redemption in Christ Jesus is about being brought safely and securely by Christ into the glorious presence of God Almighty in the new heavens and earth. This was what Christ was sent to accomplish. He redeemed us to reconcile us with the Father. As Christ said in that same prayer, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:1–3, ESV). 

You are probably wondering when we are going to get to Exodus 40. We will go there now. And really, having said all of this by way of introduction, it will not take me long to say what needs to be said about our text today, for in this text we find an earthly picture of the heavenly and eternal realities of which I have been speaking. 

Notice that at the end of the book of Exodus, and at the end of the tabernacle building process, the glory of God fills the most holy place so that it might be said, in an earthy, limited, temporary, and typological sense, “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” (Revelation 21:3, ESV).  

In other words, the cosmic and eternal realities that will be ushered in at the end of time because of the finished work of Christ, namely, the glory of God and of Christ filling all the earth, are typified here in Exodus 40 wherein we read of the glory of God filling his tabernacle. 

Stated yet another way, the cosmic and eternal realities that are described at the end of the Bible and at the end of the book of Revelation are here at the end of the book Exodus symbolized for us in an earthly, miniature, temporary, and typological way. Brothers and sisters, when the glory of God filled the tabernacle of Old Covenant Israel it was not only a great blessing to Israel, it was also a picture of a much greater blessing yet to come – a blessing that would be earned by the Messiah – a blessing that comes to us through the New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace, ratified through his shed blood. And what is that blessing? Being safely and securely brought into God’s glorious and eternal presence. Here in Exodus, we see the shadow. In Christ, we see and even experience the realities.    

Throughout our study of the book of Exodus, I have attempted to show you that the redemption that Isarel experienced, as glorious and real as it was, was an earthy, temporary, and topological picture of the redemption that is ours in Christ Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. 

Israel was redeemed from Egyptian bondage, remember? They were redeemed through the defeat of that Satanic kingdom. They were redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb. Having been redeemed, they passed through the waters of sea. And so it is with Christ, only much greater. In Christ, we are redeemed, not merely in an earthly, temporary, or typological way, but really, truly, and for all eternity, for Christ has triumphed over Satan himself. In Christ, we have been redeemed from the domain of darkness and set free by the blood of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. And having been redeemed, all who have faith in Christ, pass through the waters. It is through baptism that we say, Jesus is Lord. It is through baptism that we are set apart as citizens of his kingdom. 

Having been redeemed from Egypt, Israel was then brought into covenant with God at Sinai. The law was written on stone for them. They had been set apart unto God and now a special obligation was laid upon them to live as his holy people. And so it is for all who are in Christ Jesus. Those redeemed by Christ’s cross work, those drawn to faith in Christ in time and baptized in his name, are made partakers of the Covenant of Grace. God’s law is written, not on stone, but on their hearts. And now a special obligation rests upon us to live a holy life as God’s holy people, “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:7–8, ESV). Having been redeemed through Christ’s work on the cross, we are in time made partakers of the Covenant of Grace through faith. Under this covenant, the law is written, not on stone, but on the heart. We keep God’s law in thought, word, and deed out of gratitude for all that God has graciously done for us in Christ Jesus. These heavenly and eternal realities were prefigured in the earthly experience of Old Covenant Israel. 

Now, after Israel was redeemed from Egyptian bondage, and after they were brought into a covenantal relationship with YHWH, they were tasked with building God’s tabernacle. Instructions were given to Israel through Moses. The tabernacle was a copy of heavenly realities. It was to be built according to the pattern shown to Moses on the mountain. And so they did it. “According to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the people of Israel had done all the work. And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them” (Exodus 39:42–43, ESV).

Brothers and sisters, is not the same true for all who have faith in Christ under the New Covenant. Having been redeemed by Christ’s work on the cross, and having been brought into the New Covenant, which is the Covenant of Grace, have we not now been told to build God’s temple? You’ll see this clearly if you understand that the church is God’s inaugurated temple. Christ is the cornerstone of this temple. The apostles and prophets are the foundation stones. You yourselves, and all who believe, are living stones, being built now upon this foundation that has been laid. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? ( 1 Corinthians 3:16, ESV). Do you not know that “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” (Ephesians 2:19–22, ESV). Brothers and sisters, after Christ accomplished our redemption, and after he instituted the New Covenant with his own blood, he instructed his disciples (the true Israel of God) to build his temple. “Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV). This is our mission: to advance God’s kingdom on earth, that is to say, to build his temple, until he returns to bring all things to completion.  

God is building his eschatological temple now, and we are a part of that work. Not only are we stones in this temple, we are contributors and craftsmen too. Through the ministry of the Word and Sacrament, through the maintenance of that ministry by the contributions of God’s people, and through the use of the gifts that God has given to each one of us, we are building God’s eternal temple which is here now in an inaugurated form. Our gifts – our time, treasures, and talents – are to be used for the edification of the church. To edify is to build up.  As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:12, “So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12, ESV).

Let us now return to the storyline of Exodus. What happened after Israel was redeemed, after they were brought into covenant with God at Sinai, and after they finished the work of building the tabernacle according to God’s command? God’s glory filled his tabernacle. In Exodus 40:33 we read,  “So Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:33–35, ESV). 

Notice two things about this text. 

One, the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle after Moses finished his work. Moses finished constructing the tabernacle. This he did through Isarel. The people brought in their contributions and those who were gifted and called as craftsmen did their work. After the work was finished, then the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 

This was an earthly picture of Christ, the new covenant work of temple building, and the consummation of all things when the glory of God will fill the new heavens and earth. Then we will say, Jesus has finished his work. Our redemption has been accomplished, and now it has been applied. All of God’s elect have been brought to faith and repentance. Every stone of the temple has been laid in place on top of the foundation of Christ, the apostles, and the prophets. This work has been done by Christ – he has built his church! – but he has done this work through his people, the Israel of God.  And now the glory of God fills the temple – not a temple made with hands – but the temple of the new creation. It will be then, on that last day, that we will hear it said, “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.” (Revelation 21:3, ESV)

Two, notice the text says that “Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:33–35, ESV). Here is the great difference between Moses and Jesus Christ, and the Old Covenant and the New. Moses, the mediator of the Old Covenant, could not enter into the glory that filled the tabernacle. Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant, has entered into the glory of God in the heavenly holy of holies now. In fact, he shares in the glory now. And so it will be in the new heaven and earth. Christ will enter in and he himself will radiate the glory of God. This is what Revelation 21:22 says.  “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:22–27, ESV).

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Conclusion

I’d like to end where I began, and that is by emphasizing that redemption is about communion with God. To be redeemed by Christ is to be reconciled to God the Father so that we might commune with him and enjoy his presence forever and ever to the praise of his glorious grace. 

This becomes clear when we pay attention the to beginning and end of the scriptures. And it is clearly communicated in the middle too. 

What did God do after redeeming Israel, entering into a covenant with them, and the building up of his tabernacle? He dwelt in the midst of them. He went with them to guide and direct them on the way. 

The same can be said concerning the establishment of the kingdom of Israel and the building of the temple in the days of Solomon.  What did God do after leading his people into the promised land, securely establishing his kingdom through David, and building his temple through the son of David? His glory filled that temple. He dwelt in the midst of them. He invited Israel to commune with him in his temple. 

And think now of Pentecost. What did God do after accomplishing our eternal redemption through the work of his Messiah? What did he do after inaugurating his eternal kingdom, and his eternal temple? He filled his temple with the glory of his Spirit. He dwells in the midst of us. He invites us to  commune with him in his temple until Christ returns to bring this work to completion in the new heavens and earth. 

This is about communion with God, friends. This is about reconciliation with the Father so that we might enjoy his glorious presence forever and ever. 

Do you know God? Are you in a right relationship with him? Or are you his enemy because of sin? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). “And this is eternal life, that they know [God], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom [he has] sent” (John 17:3, ESV).

And to those who are in a right relationship with God through faith in Christ, I ask, do you savor communion with God? Do you love his presence? Do you find your joy and contentment in him? Do you satiate your spiritual thirst by drinking from the streams of living water that flow from him, or have you begun to drink again from the broken and filthy cisterns of this world? The things of this world will not satisfy your thirst. But God and Christ will. So come to God through faith in Christ the Redeemer, and drink. Commune with God in prayer. Commune with God by hearing his Word. Comune with him by living a life of gratitude before him as you contemplate his goodness from day to day. Commune with God by obeying him with gratitude in your heart for all that he has done for you in Christ. Above all, commune with him by coming to worship at his temple. Having been washed by his blood and cleansed by the water, assemble at his temple to worship. Having been enlightened by the light of his Word, and having eaten at the table that he has set before us, let us enter boldly into his presence “ new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through [Christ] flesh,” (Hebrews 10:20, ESV). Let us not neglect to assemble together, for here we commune with God in his temple as we worship and serve him together, just as we will do for all eternity in the new heavens and earth which Christ has earned for us. Thanks be to God for this redemption he has accomplished and our reconciliation with him through Christ, the only mediator between God and man. Amen. 

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"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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