The Magnetic Pull of God’s Presence
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Devotional for Day 9
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” — Zechariah 8:20–23 (ESV)
What a glorious vision of what happens when the Kingdom of God is made manifest on the earth! Oh, that we were so manifestly abiding in the Lord that a rumor would spread that God is with us in the Church!
Zechariah wrote these words while Zerubbabel and Jeshua were engaged in the project of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, but it was not the completion of that edifice that would usher in God’s “return[ing] to Zion and… dwell[ing] in the midst of Jerusalem” (v. 3). When they offered burnt offerings on the altar and celebrated the temple’s newly laid foundations, those who remembered the former temple wept (Ezra 3). Why? Because the glory of the LORD did not come down and fill the temple as it once had.
God would indeed come and dwell in the midst of His people, but He would come as He had said long before through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [‘God with us’]” (Isa. 7:14). Jesus could rightly identify Himself with the house of God (“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” [John 2:19]), as “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19). But He has ascended to the Father; so where is God to be found now?
Praise the Lord, he has not left us as orphans (John 14:18). “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19). Have we understood this all-important question? Paul asks it in the context of explaining why we must have no part in sexual immorality, and it surely applies there, but we make a further observation: the words “you” and “your” are plural throughout that verse (and the following), while “body” is singular. Yes, it is wonderfully and gloriously true that the Holy Spirit lives in me; but it is we, in our collective body, the Church, who constitute His temple in this age.
God’s house stands in grave need of repair. Let us mourn, for the Lord has called them blessed who do so (Matt. 5:4). But what comfort awaits us! Just before our verse for the day, Zechariah declared that our fasts should be “seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts” (8:17). For what is our repentance, if not the Bride making herself ready for the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7)?
There shall be a new Jerusalem, and God shall dwell there with man (Rev. 21:2–3). And there people from every nation and tongue shall come. Let us seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness before all else (Matt. 6:33). Let us hunger and thirst for them (Matt. 5:6), for the Lord says: “To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. … But as for the cowardly, the faithless… their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire…” (Rev. 21:6, 8).
Father, hallowed be Your name. Enthrall our hearts with the vision of what You have purposed, that we may live with You and walk before You in righteousness, now and forever. For our good and the good of those who still do not know You, make our sins as repugnant to us as they are to You, and by the blood of Jesus cleanse our conscience from dead works. Give us the grace to worship You in spirit and truth; to hunger for none but You, and to feast on the Bread of Life You have so mercifully provided. Father, give us no desire to be anywhere but in Your will. Your kingdom come.
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union at Yale