God chose to tabernacle with us.
That’s an odd way to structure that sentence, but hang in there with me for a minute.
Tabernacle. In Hebrew it’s the word miškān and it means dwelling place. What’s a dwelling place? It’s a home. It’s a place of residence. Think about all the associations we have with the idea of home.
God chose to make his home with us.
Before Genesis 3, God was there, in the garden, walking in the cool of the day (that’s anthropomorphism by the way, the idea of God walking like a person would, but I digress, it’s an image we understand) in perfect harmony with creation, including mankind. It’s called shalom, most of the time simply translated as just peace, but at its root it means whole, complete, perfect. That’s the picture of our relationship to the Lord. The story goes on and brokenness enters into the existing completeness, the reality of shalom becomes a memory.
God could have chosen to be far off from that time on, but he didn’t. He chose to tabernacle with us. He never forgot walking in the garden in the cool of the day. He remembers shalom.
We (the collective “We” of humanity) don’t remember shalom, not really. We’ve never experienced it. We can’t recall it with our minds and yet somehow it’s written in our DNA. There is a primal, deep part of all of us that is always making its way back toward something we have never known. There is a way about being human that is so very familiar and yet so very foreign, the language of creation exists within us.
That’s why God chose to make his dwelling place with us. So that we wouldn’t forget. When the tabernacle was a physical tent that the Israelites picked up and moved as they moved, they were instructed to put it in the center of their camp. When the first temple was built and fire came down and God’s Spirit inhabited it, it was in the middle of the city. There were times that the people were instructed to come to the temple. Always, they were to be making their way back toward the presence of the Lord.
When the Holy Spirit came down and fire appeared over all the believer’s heads, you know what we became? Tabernacles. It’s why we can always ALMOST recognize where we were meant to be. The more sensitive we are to that Spirit, the more able we are to hear the call back to shalom.