This is the Father’s world. This mess? How can it be?

A pastor who loved to hike the countryside wrote the hymn, This is my Father’s world. He admitted in the hymn that it didn’t seem like the Father’s world because “the wrong seems oft so strong” – but “dear to God is the earth Christ trod,” so he also believed the Father hasn’t given up on this world at all. In fact, mess though it is, he loves it.

He loves it because he created our planet as the one place in the universe where heaven and earth would come together, pictured by the tabernacle the Israelites carried in the wilderness, and the Temple they built in Jerusalem. It was there in both tabernacle and Temple that God came to dwell with his people, and his presence on this earth could be seen and felt. It was known to the Israelites as the Shekinah.

The Jews hoped the Shekinah would return after they rebuilt the Temple, because that was the sign the prophets gave that God would begin to fill the whole earth with his presence and glory – but for the next four hundred years it didn’t happen. And then Jesus appears and says at the Temple, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will build it again,” referring to himself now being the Temple. He, therefore, was the Shekinah, in whom “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:6) could be seen. In Jesus now the Father’s glory and presence could be seen and felt on earth.

Jesus then tells his followers that when God’s Spirit dwells in them they will be the Temple, and through them now the Shekinah would continue. It was the sign the Jews had so desperately been hoping for, but instead of God revealing his glory and presence in their physical Temple, he would be revealing it through Jesus’ disciples. So from pitching his tent on earth in the tabernacle and Temple, to pitching his tent on earth in Jesus, to pitching his tent on earth in the church, the Father has been dwelling on this planet, his world, bringing earth and heaven together.

But now it’s in a greater way than ever before, as he dwells in millions of humans in the church, doing in our Temple what he did in the Jewish Temple, filling it with his glory and presence in fulfillment of all those promises the Jews had dreamed of seeing, as he spreads his new creation of glory and beauty to the whole world. And when the church catches on that this is what God has us in the church for, who knows what ideas in our heads that creates?

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