Troublesome Topic: A Dwelling Place for God

Lesson 1 of 5

From the time of Abraham forward, God expressed His purpose with the words, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” If God’s desire has been a close and intimate relationship with us, then a progressively greater closeness should be evidenced in Scripture as God brings His plan closer and closer to fruition. That is precisely what we see.

God with Us/Among us

In the garden of Eden God had a communion with His creation that was unhindered by anything, until man sinned. That act tore the relationship to pieces and resulted in man being cursed with death. From that very moment God began to seek to reconcile man back to Himself. But it seems that in those early days there were only a few who sought after God and obeyed Him without any external instruction and guidelines. These would have included Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Job. Later God chose a people to be His representatives on this earth, and He put His presence among them. The column of cloud by day and fire by night were visible reminders that God had chosen to live among them. He put His tent (tabernacle) in the very middle of the camp, and He gave His copy of the covenant summary to Moses to put next to their copy indicating that His most special place was the same as their most special place. God was clearly and repeatedly communicating that He wanted to live among them. This in itself is a great deal of closeness. Imagine, the all-powerful God, creator of all that is, willing to live on the cover of a box, in a tent in the middle of all these ordinary people!

God Was One Of Us

But when the prophets started speaking of a “New Covenant” we can observe a shift toward even greater closeness. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be called “Immanuel” which means, “God with us.” Ezekiel spoke of a restoration and a spiritual renewal in which God’s relationship with His people would be reestablished. He concluded his entire prophetic writings with the words, “and the name of the city from that day on will be: ‘YHVH (read Adonai) IS THERE’” (Ez. 48:35). One difference between the Former Covenant and the New Covenant is a closer relationship between God and His followers (Ez. 48:35 & Jer. 31).

Then Jesus came. God put skin on and walked around like one of us. He touched people and they touched Him. He sweated under the hot middle eastern sun just like they did, and just like them, He probably did not take a bath very often. He got stung by mosquitoes, got eye lashes in his eyes. His experience was difficult, much like that of the people of His day. In this simple, common manner God got close to man in a way unimagined up to that time. No one could have dreamed this one up; only a God who was desperate to have a closer relationship with His creation. He was no longer among them in an invisible, mysterious kind of way, but in a visible, touchable, smellable way. Imagine, John could rest his head on the chest of God! I love the part of the song Mary Did You Know that says, “And when you kiss your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God!”  

The Word became flesh and set up his tent among us” (Jn. 1:14). This time His tent was a physical body and it looked just like all the others; there was nothing outwardly unique or attractive about His body. His smile might have been contagious, but He would not have won any contests for good looks (see Is 53:2). In many ways He was wonderfully normal, commonplace, ordinary. By taking on human form, God used the unexpected yet the ordinary, the simple yet the miraculous, to take another step closer to man.

God in Us

Jesus in a human body was only a temporary arrangement. God’s desire and plan for closeness with man ultimately involved something else. When Jesus had completed His redemptive work and returned to heaven, He left in His place the Holy Spirit who would live, not with us, nor among us, but inside of us. God was not satisfied until God and man could inhabit the same dwelling (in this case our human body). It is cause for amazement that the God who rules the entire universe would choose to make His residence in a normal and imperfect human being!

 “I will be your God, and you will be my people” can be fulfilled more completely now than ever before. That phrase addresses closeness in relationship, a closeness made real by God’s Spirit living in us. Previously His dwelling was a tent or temple made by human hands. Now those who choose to follow God with a radical faith and a total commitment become His temple, made by His hands.

Paul wrote the Corinthians with these words,

1 Corinthians 3:16


Don’t you know that you are the temple of THEOS and the Spirit of THEOS dwells in you?


Don’t you realize that you are the place THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS has chosen as His home? We know this because the Spirit of THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS resides in you.

1 Corinthians 3:17


If anyone destroys

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the temple of THEOS, THEOS will destroy him, for the temple of THEOS, which you are, is holy.


If anyone causes spiritual damage by means of spiritual corruption to the house where THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS lives, THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS will cause him physical damage, i.e. death, for the house where THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS lives is holy, and you are that house!

God now dwells within us and we are the temple of God. That is a key teaching of the New Testament. It is a giant step forward in God’s quest for closeness in His relationships with man. Paul summarized it this way, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). That is the New Covenant in a nutshell. God, through Jesus, has made provision for the elimination of the barrier (sin) that was blocking a good relationship, and thus allowed for such a degree of closeness that God and man can share the same dwelling.

Jeremiah 31:31


Look! The days are coming, says YHVH (read Adonai), when I will cut a new covenant with the house of ISRAEL and with the house of JUDAH,


Give me your attention! This is important. THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD says, The days are coming when I will

establish a new covenant with the people who NEVER LET GO OF GOD, and with those that are full of PRAISE AND CELEBRATION.

Jeremiah 31:32


not like the covenant I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of EGYPT, my covenant which they broke, even though I was a husband to them, says YHVH (read Adonai).


This one will not be like the covenant I established with their ancestors when I gently and carefully led them out of the LAND THAT IS BOUND BY SIN, that covenant which, by their actions, they caused to be null and void, despite the fact that I had a close and intimate relationship with them, says THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD.

Jeremiah 31:33


But this is the covenant I will cut with the house of ISRAEL after those days,

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says YHVH (read Adonai), I will put my Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts

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and I will be their ELOHIM and they will be my people.


Rather this is the covenant I will establish with THOSE WHO REFUSE TO LET GO OF GOD after I have planted them back in this land, says THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD, I will put my instructions in their minds and write them on their hearts instead of on stones and parchment, and I will have a special relationship with them in which they will look to me and follow me as their CREATOR AND RULER and I will care for them and guide them.

Jeremiah 31:34


And every man shall not teach his neighbor, or every man his brother, saying, “Know YHVH (read Adonai)!” For all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them, says YHVH (read Adonai). For I will forgive their depravity and remember their sins no more.


One person will not need to teach his close neighbors or his close relatives saying, “Hey, you really need to follow THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD!” That won’t be necessary because everyone will already understand me and my ways, from the least significant to the most important, that’s what THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD says. This will be true because I will forgive them of their evil acts and I will not hold their guilt against them anymore.

The reason Jeremiah could prophecy that the New Covenant would be written on our hearts rather than on slabs of stone is the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. The reason none of God’s people needs to teach others in God’s family about the Lord is that all those who are truly part of the people of God already know the Lord and have Him living within them to guide and teach them.

In reality God dwells in Heaven and also in human hearts. Isaiah 57:15 will make more sense now, “I dwell in the high and holy [place], and also with him who is crushed and of a humble spirit.” God can and does live in more than one place at the same time.

So God now lives in human hearts! Wow, that is greater closeness than any of the Hebrew prophets could have imagined.

The next lesson in all three series on Covenants is: Implications of God’s New Dwelling Place



The verb I have rendered in the translation column as “destroys” is used twice in this verse. It can mean “to destroy, damage, ruin, defile, corrupt, or spoil, deteriorate or degenerate.” It comes from a root that means “to waste away, or to degenerate.” Because the first instance refers to a spiritual dwelling, the type of damage must be spiritual damage caused by spiritual corruption; because the second refers to the physical body, the type of damage must be physical damage, i.e. death.


“After those days” does not seem to make sense unless you look at the context. In this section He was communicating through the prophet that He would bring them back from captivity to their own land. Verse 27 says that He will “plant them,” reminiscent of one who planted a vineyard, which was a sign of prosperity and joy. Hence the paraphrase column includes the part about planting them in the land, which is drawn from the context of the passage.


When someone talked about writing the law on something, the hearer immediately thought about stone or parchment. Who ever heard of writing something on someone’s heart? It sounds painful! But God can do what no one else can do. And if His instructions are written on the heart they will never be lost or forgotten, they be lived out in every action of every day. Also they would not need anyone else to teach it to them or explain it to them, for they would already know it because it would be inside them. The original audience would have immediately seen some benefits of having it written on their hearts.