The Covenant – God’s Tabernacle with Man
In the covenant relation the Triune God receives us into His own family, takes us to His bosom, opens to us His heart, walks with us and talks with us, calls and treats us as His friends, so that we know Him, trust in Him, love Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength, and serve Him as His friends. In the covenant relation God dwells with us, and we with Him: the tabernacle of God is with men!
That this idea of the covenant is based on Holy Writ is not difficult to demonstrate. In paradise God reveals Himself to Adam and speaks to him as a friend with his friend, and Adam knew God in the cool of the day. The first creation is concentrated in paradise, the house of God; paradise has its center in the tree of life, that sacrament of God’s covenant of friendship; and the whole is concentrated in man, the house-servant of God. The whole earthly creation has its ethical center in the heart of man, and through that heart all creation lies at the heart of God! Adam was the friend of God.
Of the early saints we read that they walked with God, a term denoting intimate fellowship and friendship (Gen. 5:22; 6:8). We read of them that they talk with God, and that God reveals His counsel to them, hiding nothing from them (Gen. 6:13; 9:9; 18:17ff.). Abraham is called the friend of God (Is. 41:8; Jas. 2:23). To Moses the Lord spoke as a friend with his friend (Ex. 33:11); and the Lord knew him face to face.
Moreover, it is this idea of the covenant that is symbolized in the tabernacle and the temple, expressing the truth that God will dwell with His people under one roof. And it is well known that the covenant relation between God and Israel is presented as a marriage relation, that most intimate of all human relationships; and that transgression of the covenant is called adultery.
The same truth is found in the New Testament. To know God is eternal life (John 17:3). The highest realization of God’s people to Him in Christ is expressed in the words of Christ’s sacerdotal prayer: “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfect in one” (John 17:23). The church is the temple of the living God and has the glorious promise, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (II Cor. 6:16). At the table of communion believers are the guests of God, and it is in His house that they eat and drink.
And the culmination, the highest and final realization of God’s purpose of salvation is expressed in the words, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). In the new Jerusalem, God’s people shall walk in the light of the glory of God, and they shall see his face (Rev. 22:4). God’s eternal covenant of friendship shall have been realized in its highest, heavenly perfection of beauty!
The glory of God’s covenant of friendship, centered in the risen Lord, must shine forth in a multitude of people, the glorified church. He must be the firstborn among many brethren. Hence, God ordains all the elect, and gives them to Christ. In Him they are chosen. According to His image they must be conformed, in order that the blessed covenant of friendship might be reflected in and established with millions upon millions of sons of God, and thus all might redound to the abundant praise of God.
And what is more, to this glorified Christ and His church all things are given in heaven and on earth. For Christ is the head of heaven and earth. In Him as the head, all things must be gathered together, that the whole creation may be one glorious house of God, embracing every creature, and all things may serve the new man in Christ, that he may serve his God. And unto that glorious end, that final, heavenly realization of God’s all embracing covenant, all things in time are strictly subordinated and made subservient, creation and the fall, sin and death, the powers of darkness and the revelation of God’s grace in Jesus Christ our Lord. All things must serve the highest realization of God’s eternal covenant of friendship.
Man is subjected to temporal death, separated from the tree of life. The conception as well as the sorrow of the woman is made great, that Christ may come quickly. The ground is cursed, and the earth will bring forth thorns and thistles. Not only will man eat his bread in the sweat of his face, but he will also eat and drink his own death. And the creature is subjected to vanity, so that all real culture by the fallen lord of creation is become impossible. But upon that stage God reveals His blessed covenant, and in that darkness He causes the light of His promise, the light that shines from the face of the risen Lord, to penetrate, and to fill the heirs of the promise with hope.
And although, all through the old dispensation, all the powers of darkness unite against God’s holy covenant and attempt to destroy the holy seed before the Christ of God can come into the world, in the fullness of time God realizes His covenant, centrally, in the incarnation of the Son of God. The basis of that covenant is established in righteousness, by the perfect obedience of the Friend-servant of Jehovah, through the blood of the New Testament. The glory of that covenant is centrally realized in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and in the exaltation of the Firstborn of every creature at the right hand of God.
And through the Spirit of the risen Lord indwelling in the church, that covenant of friendship is realized spiritually in the hearts of all the elect, as they are reborn unto a new life, and called by the gospel out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. Now they all know Him, from the smallest to the greatest, for His law is written in their hearts. And their calling it is to live from the principle of the new life, and to represent the cause of the Son of God in the midst of a world that lieth in darkness.
Still all things are not accomplished. One more revelation of the wonder of God’s grace we expect in the light of the promise. For the Son of God must be revealed from heaven. Once again God will bring His Firstborn into the world. Then God’s covenant shall be perfected. Old things shall pass away, and He will make all things new. Our mortal bodies shall be made like unto the most glorious body of the Son of God, creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption to participate in the glorious liberty of the children of God, and all things shall be made conformable to the glory of the risen Lord. The new Jerusalem shall come down from God out of heaven, and the tabernacle of God shall be with men. And He shall walk with them, and they shall see His face, knowing even as they are known, and taste and declare that the Lord is good!
Faith Child are you at peace with the Covenant God? Will you be in the New Jerusalem? To know Him is to love Him.
Reference: by Herman Hoeksema http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_49.html