God with us

It’s hugely comforting isn’t it? God. With. Us. We’re reminded of it every Christmas as we consider the birth of Jesus, ‘Immanuel’ – God with us.

God has always been the God of residency. From walking with Adam and Eve in Eden, to a tent in Exodus and the temple of Jerusalem – God wants to dwell with His people.

As wonderful as that sounds, perhaps we lose something of the magnitude of what it takes to make that possible.

Ezekiel 8-11 gives us one of Ezekiel’s visions from God. It’s not an easy read, but then, the honest account of what we’re really like from the God who sees everything, isn’t likely to be.

The vision makes plain that God detests our sin, deals with our sin and ultimately departs from sinners. All the while, there is a hint of hope that God will dwell again. Have a read, slowly, and get the measure of God’s attitude to sin. Then have a think and pray along the lines below:

1. Do you view sin as detestable? What sins do you actually rather delight in? Pray for a godly attitude to sin, that we might not delight in things that detest God and took Jesus to the cross on our behalf.

2. How would you feel if you saw God departing, like Ezekiel did? Can you even imagine it? Have you taken Him for granted and perhaps sanitised what is required for a holy God to be with His people at all?

3. What hope is there that God will return, that He will be the God of residency with His people?

4. God’s dealing with sin (judgement) enables him to dwell again, and Rev 21 gives us great assurance of the future. It’s only because the Father turned His back on Jesus, that he now doesn’t have to turn His back on us. Give thanks and praise.

5. Those who are ‘marked’ in chapter 9, are saved. There’s a hint here of the mark/seal of believers today by the Holy Spirit. Again, give thanks for the security we have in Christ.

6. Part of Ezekiel’s concern will have been God leaving the temple. John 4 tells us that thanks to Jesus, we no longer need to meet God there. In fact, we are now the temple (1 Pet 2). Praise God for the intimacy of His residency, made possible by Jesus.