WHERE THE NAME AND PRESENCE OF GOD RESIDES ON EARTH

On the Feast of Weeks in 30 A.D., a major event occurred  concerning  where  the name and presence of God resides  on  earth.  The subject  of where  God places his name and presence on  earth  is vitally  important  to everyone  who seeks to worship  and  serve  him, because the only place  he can be worshiped is where  his  presence is.

In  order to determine where God's name and presence is on  earth today, it is important to review where he placed his name and presence  from the  time of Moses to the end of the first covenant with national Israel and where  the Father  promised to place his name and presence after the  advent of Jesus Christ.

THE BURNING BUSH

"Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of  Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel  of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush:  and he looked and behold, the bush burned with  fire,  and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn  aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord  saw that he turned aside to see, God called him out of  the midst of the bush, and said Moses, Moses. And he said, here am I. And he said draw not near here: put off your shoes from off  your feet,  for the place whereon you stand is holy ground"  (Ex.3:1-5 KJV).

When Moses first encountered God in the wilderness, God  appeared to  him in a fire and told him that the place where he stood  was holy ground. As we will see, the fire of God is a very  important key  to unlocking the mystery of where God's presence resides  on earth today.

This account shows that, when God places his power and presence on earth, this event is accompanied by fire that does not consume that which he has separated for his use. It also shows that, where God's presence resides is sacred and  to  be shown respect.

FIRE AND SMOKE ON MOUNT SINAI

Exodus 19:9-24

"Then he said to Moses, 'I am going to come to you in the form  of a  dark cloud, so that the people themselves can hear me  when  I talk with you, and they will always believe you. Go down now  and see  that the people are ready for my visit. Sanctify them  today and tomorrow,  and have them wash their clothes.  Then  the  day after tomorrow, I will come down upon Mt. Sinai as all the people watch" (vs.9-11 LBP).

Moses was to prepare the people for the day when God would appear upon  the mountain. One of the things that they were to do was to wash their clothing, which was a very important part of the preparation prior to  appearing before God.

"Set  boundary  lines  the people may not pass,  and  tell  them, 'Beware! Do not go up into the mountain or even touch its  boundaries; whosoever does shall die" (v12 LPB).

"Not a hand shall touch him,  but surely he shall be stoned, or surely he shall  be  shot through, he shall not live, whether animal or man" (v13 Para.).

In  verses  12 and 13, we are told that neither animals  nor  the people could touch the mountain where God was going to be, and if they did touch it, they would be killed.

“All Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because Jehovah descended upon  it in the form of fire; the smoke billowed into the sky  as from  a  furnace,  and the whole mountain shook with a  violent earthquake” (v18 LBP).

There was a  tremendous display of energy, fire, and smoke  as  the Creator God came to rest upon the mountain.

"So the Lord came down upon the top of Mount Sinai and called  Moses  up to the top of the mountain, and Moses ascended to God. But the Lord  told Moses, 'Go back down and warn the people not to  cross the boundaries. They shall not come up here to see God, for  they will die" (vs.20-21 LBP).

God warns the people not to venture upon  the sacred ground where he is:

"And  let  the priests which also come near  the  Lord,  sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them"  (v22 KJV).

The priests must purify themselves in order  to come close to the presence of God:

"But the people won't come up into the mountain!" Moses  protested. "You told them not to!" You told me to set boundaries  around the mountain, and to declare it off limits because it is reserved for  God" (v23 LBP).

"And the Lord said to him, come, go  down.  And you  and Aaron come up. And do not let the priests and  the  people break  through and come up  to the Lord, lest he burst forth  among them" (v24 Para.).

At Mount Sinai, while God instructed Moses in how he wanted Israel to worship him he spoke with Moses face to face, as a man speaking to  a friend (Ex.33:11). Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders  of Israel  were  to stay some distance away  and  worship  (Ex.24:1), but the rest of Israel were to remain outside the sacred area:

"And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early  in the  morning, and built an altar under the hill, and twelve  pillars according to the tribes of Israel. And sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And he took the book of  the covenant  and read in the audience of the people: and they  said, all the Lord has said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the  blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold  the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you  concerning these words" (Ex.24:4-8 KJV).

After  Moses came down from the mountain, he required that  sacrifices  be made to God, after which he sealed the covenant with  the blood of these sacrifices.

"Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy  of the  elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and  there was  under his feet as it were paved work of sapphire stone,  and as  it  were the body of heaven in his clearness.  And  upon  the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also  they saw God and did eat and drink" (Ex.24:9-11 KJV).

Here,  we see that the elders of Israel were also allowed to  meet with  the Creator God, after the proper sacrifices had  been  offered.

Verse 11 shows that no harm came to them while they were in the presence of God. But, what kept them from being killed  by the power of God's presence? The reason they could come into  the presence  of God without being harmed is that they  had  prepared themselves through a purification process. They were free of  all contamination  and  were  purified through the  offering  of  the proper sacrifices and acts of purification before going up  the mountain to meet with God.

This account shows that, wherever God's power and presence resides is a sacred place. Moreover, nothing impure can come into contact with the power and presence of God without being destroyed by God's  purity. Indeed, this was the case on Mount Sinai.

THE TABERNACLE

While  the  Creator God resided upon Mount Sinai,  he  instructed Moses  to have the tabernacle built so that he could dwell  among the nation of Israel and provide a place for them to worship him:

"And  he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and  made the  alter,  and set up the hanging of the court gate.  So  Moses finished the work. then the cloud covered the tent of the congregation,  and  the glory of the Lord filled  the  tabernacle.  And Moses  was  not able to enter into the tent of  the  congregation because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the  tabernacle. For the cloud of the Lord  was  upon the  tabernacle by day, and the fire was on it by night,  in  the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys" (Ex.40:33-35, 38 KJV).

After  the tabernacle was erected and all of  God's  instructions had  been  followed  concerning its preparation,  God  moved  his presence  from Mount Sinai to the tabernacle. Again, God's presence is evidenced by fire.

Preparation and Purification

Leviticus chapters 8 and 9 show that preparation and  purification  of the priesthood  was necessary in order for  them  to serve  God in the Tabernacle. This indicates that everything  used in the service of God and in the place where his presence resides must be clean, pure, and sinless. Please read both chapters 8 and 9  in order to gain an understanding of the importance that God places on the purification process.

God  gave  great  detail to Moses and Aaron  concerning  how  the priesthood  and all other things should be prepared and purified before they could come into his presence. He warned that, if these procedures were not followed, the violator would be killed. It is  important to  remember  that nothing impure or sinful  can  abide  in  the presence of God.

A Fatal Mistake

"And  Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took their  censor, and  put  fire in it; and they put incense on  it  and  brought strange fire before the Lord God, which he had not commanded them. And fire  went  out before the Lord God and consumed them; and  they died before the Lord God" (Lev.10:1-2 Para.).

The  two  sons of Aaron did not take  the  instruction that God gave them  about keeping all contamination  out  of his presence seriously. Because they did not heed these instructions,  they were killed by the fire of God's presence.

The Holy of Holies

Leviticus 16:1-4 GNB

"The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who  were  killed when they offered unholy fire to the  Lord.  He said, 'Tell your brother Aaron that only at the proper time is he to  go behind the curtain into the Most Holy Place, because  that is  where I appear in a cloud above the lid on the  Covenant  Box (i.e., the mercy seat)" (vs.1-2).

Within the most sacred place of the tabernacle was the ark of the covenant, and within it were the following things:

"If  he disobeys, he will be killed. He may enter the  Most  Holy Place  only after he has brought a young bull for a sin  offering and a ram for a burnt offering.' Then the Lord gave the following instructions,  'Before  Aaron goes into the Most Holy  Place,  he must take a bath and put on the priestly garments: the linen robe and shorts, the belt, and the turban" (vs.3-4).

Although  others  of the priesthood could  officiate  in  various duties  within the tabernacle, only Aaron could come  within  the Holy of Holies where the presence of God resided upon the  ark of the  covenant. Moreover,  Aaron had to make  special  preparations to remove all contamination from himself prior to  entering this  most  sacred of places. If Aaron did not follow  these  instructions in exact detail, he would have been killed as  his  two sons  were when  they failed to properly prepare to  come  before  the presence of God.

The  tabernacle  was the place where God met with Moses  and  the priesthood. This was the only place where God would accept sacrifices and allow offerings to be made to him. It was also the only place  where  an Israelite could go before God to ask  for  their sins to be forgiven. See Ex.29:42-43; 30:6;36.

The Place in the Promised Land

After instructing the Israelites on how to worship him, God told them to destroy all of the pagan places of worship in the land he was going to give them. Then, he said that they should not attempt to worship him  in the ways that the pagans worshiped their  gods and  they  had to worship him  where he placed  his  name  and presence:

"You must not worship the lord your God in their way. But you are to  seek the place the lord your God will choose from among  your tribes to put his name there for his dwelling. To that place  you must  go; there bring your burnt offerings and  sacrifices,  your tithes  and special gifts, what you have vowed to give  and  your freewill offerings, and the first born of your herds and  flocks. There, in the presence of the Lord your God you and your families shall eat and rejoice . . ." (Deut.12:4-7 NIV).

AT SHILOH

After  wandering in the wilderness for 40 years,  the  Israelites entered  into  the  promised land and set the  tabernacle  up  at Shiloh as directed by God:

"And  the whole congregation of the children of Israel  assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them" (Josh.18:1 KJV).

The prophet Jeremiah also records that Shiloh was the first place in  the  promised  land where God chose to  place  his  name  and presence:

"But  go you now to my place which was in Shiloh, where I set  my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel" (Jer.7:12 KJV).

The  tabernacle  resided at Shiloh for about  300  years. During this  time, the Israelites stopped diligently worshiping God.  As punishment  for their sins, God allowed the Philistines to  invade Israel and capture the ark of God. The Philistines took the  ark and  placed it in the temple of Dagon for a short period of  time (1.Sam.5:1-11)  after which, it was returned to Israel where  it remained at the house of Abinadab until it was moved to the  city of David and later to the temple that Solomon built.

The Temple at Jerusalem

"Now  my God, I beseech you, let your eyes be open and your  ears attentive  to  the prayer of this place; and now O Lord God, rise  to your rest; You and the ark of your strength;  O Lord God  your priest  are clothed with salvation,  and your  saints rejoice in goodness; O Lord God, do not turn away the face  of your  anointed;  remember the good deeds of your  servant David" (2.Chron.6:40-42 Para.).

"And when Solomon finished praying, then the fire came down  from heaven  and consumed the burnt offering and the  sacrifices;  and the  glory of Lord God filled the house; and the priests were not able  to  go into the house of the Lord God, because of the  glory  of Lord God  had  filled  the house of Lord God and all  the  sons  of Israel  were watching, when the fire came down, and the glory  of Lord God was on the house"  (2.Chron.6:7:1-3 Para.).

Approximately 480 years after the children of Israel came  out of  Egypt, God moved his dwelling place into the  Temple  at  Jerusalem. Again, the  fire of God descended upon the place  where the presence  of God was to reside. This fire is  also  evidence  that  God had moved the place where he intends to reside  and  be worshiped. God's presence remained in Jerusalem for approximately 1,000 years until the temple that Herod built was destroyed in 70 A.D.

WHERE DOES GOD DWELL TODAY?

Because  the temple at Jerusalem where God's presence  resided  was destroyed, it is pertinent to ask if there is a place on  earth  where  the presence  of  God resides today, and if there is  such  a place, where is it?

After Christ Came

The  Bible  tells us that, after the advent of  Christ,  salvation would be offered to people throughout the world:

"In  that  day I will raise up the tabernacle of  David  that  is fallen,  and close up the breaches thereof; and I will  raise  up his ruins, and I will build it as the days of old. That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the heathen, which are  called by my name, says the Lord that does this" (Amos 9:11-12 KJV). See also  Psa.22:27-29, 67:1-7; 72:1-17; Matt.28:18-20;  Lk.24:46-47; Acts 10:1-48; 15:15-17.

The  Father knew that it would be impossible for those  who  were scattered throughout the world to come to one specific location on earth to worship him; therefore, a change would be  necessary. Thus, God made it possible for those whom he would call to  salvation to worship him  wherever they were on earth.

Spiritual Worship

While  speaking to a woman of Samaria, Jesus explained that  there would  come  a  time when the existing worship  system  would  be abolished, and  those who worshiped God would do  so  in spirit and truth. He explained that it  would no longer be necessary to travel to a specific location to worship God.

"The  woman said to him, Sir, I perceive that you are a  prophet. Our  fathers  worshiped  in this mountain, and you  say  that  in Jerusalem  is the place where it is necessary to worship. Jesus said to her, Woman believe me that an hour is coming  when  you will worship the Father neither in this mountain nor in  Jerusalem.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we  know, for salvation is of the Jews" (Jn.4:19-22 Para.).

In verses 23-24, Jesus says that God  the Father is a spirit-being who can only be worshiped in spirit and truth:

"But  the  hour is coming, and now is, when the  true  worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. For the Father seeks such  ones that worship him . God is a spirit, and the ones  that worship him  must worship in spirit and truth" (Jn.4:23-24 Para.).

Many people believe that when Jesus spoke of worshiping in the spirit and truth, he was only speaking philosophically,  and that he was only trying to convey that people would eventually worship God with a different attitude. However, Jesus was  saying something completely different. He was speaking of the time  when the  Father  would move his place of worship from the  temple in Jerusalem to a temple of flesh, where his spirit would reside. See our  study paper concerning the New Creation for more details  about  worshiping in the spirit.

In  writing  to the Philipians, the apostle Paul says it  is  the sons of God who worship the Father in spirit and it  is  through the holy spirit of God that the children  of  God worship the Father:

"For  the  rest, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To  write  the same things to you is not truly tiresome to me, but safe for you. Look  out for the dogs; look out for the evil workers;  look out for the concision party (i.e., the Jews). For we are the  circumcision  who  worship by the spirit of God, who  glory  in  Christ Jesus, and who do not trust in the flesh" (Phil.3:1-3 Para.). Also see Eph.6:18; Gal.6:1-2.

THE FESTIVAL OF PENTECOST AND THE NEW TEMPLE

"And he said, Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah  must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day; and that this message of salvation should be taken from Jerusalem  to all the nations;  There is forgiveness of sins for all who  turn to me.  You have seen these prophecies come true. And now I  will send the holy spirit upon you, just as my Father promised.  Don't begin telling others yet—stay here in the city until the  holy spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven"  (Lk.24:46-49 LBP).

Here, we see Jesus preparing his disciples for the moment that the Father  would place his holy spirit within them and  they  would become the dwelling place of his presence. This is the hour Jesus spoke of when he told the woman of Samaria that the hour  would come when the Father's place of worship would be changed.

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one  accord in one place. And suddenly there came a  sound  from heaven  as a mighty rushing wind,  and it filled the house  where they  were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven  tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them" (Acts 2:1-3 KJV).

This is the same kind of fire that was present when  Moses  met God  at the burning bush. Additionally, it is this kind of fire that descended upon  Mount Sinai, upon  the  tabernacle,  and upon the temple Solomon  built in order to show that God had placed his name and presence there.

Just  as  the  fire descended upon the tabernacle  and  the temple that Solomon built, as  the fire  of God descended upon God's people of the New  Covenant on this festival of Pentecost, the Father placed  his name and presence in a new  Temple  where  he could meet with his people.

The following things distinguish this Day of Pentecost from any others since:

Historical Review

When  the servant Stephen was brought before the high priest  and accused  of  blasphemy,  he reviewed the history  of  Israel  and revealed  that  God had moved his dwelling place on  earth  to a temple of flesh.

Acts 7:44-51 NIV

Stephen reminds them that the tabernacle was God's first dwelling place with Israel:

"Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according  to the  pattern  he had seen. Having received  the tabernacle,  our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them" (vs.44-45).

In verses 46-47, Stephen speaks of the great temple that Solomon constructed for God to place his presence within:

"It  remained  in the land until the time of David,  who  enjoyed God's  favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling  place  for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built the house for him" (vs.46-47).

"However  the Most High does not live in houses made by  men.  As the prophet says: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my  footstool.  What kind of house will you build for me? says the  Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?" (vs.48-50).  Also  see Acts 17:24-25;   Isa.66:1-2; Psa.11:4.

Stephen understood that the temple was an  object of worship to many of the people who stood there,  and he reminded them that God cannot be  captured  and held in a house built by men, because God  is  greater than all  man-made objects. What Stephen  said was  considered blasphemy to those who thought of the temple as indispensable to their worship of God:

"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are  just like your fathers: You always resist the holy  spirit!" (v51).

Those  to whom Stephen spoke had forgotten the Creator's  promise of  a new covenant with Israel in which he promised to move  his dwelling place  (his Holy Place) into a temple of  flesh (Jer.31:31-34). Because of their spiritual blindness and attachment to the temple and  its worship system, they killed Stephen, not  realizing  that he  had revealed to them one of the most profound  and  wonderful truths of their age. See Psa.37:30-31; Jer.32:40.

Purification of the Temple

Under the Old Covenant, the priesthood, the people, and all things that came into close contact with God had to be purified and kept clean,  because God will not dwell where there is sin  (Lev.19:2; 1.Pet.1:15-16) or physical impurity (Ex.29:36-46; Deut.23:14).

Many people do not realize that God has not changed and that, under  the New  Covenant,  he still requires  all things that  come  into close contact with him to be free from all sin and impurity. This is why it is vitally important to become and remain sinless and pure through the blood of Christ. See Mal.3:6; Heb.9:22-28.

The Temple of Flesh

"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  for you are the  temple of the living God; as God has said, I will  dwell  in them and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall  be my  people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you  separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive  you.  And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be  my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2.Cor.6:16-18 LBP).

Because God will not allow his spirit to inhabit an impure place, a physical and a spiritual change takes place during the baptismal  ceremony. In the baptismal water, the  Father  purifies the  physical body  through his spirit power so  that  his  holy spirit  (his spirit  presence) can dwell  within  the repentant believer's physical body. See 1.Tim.5:22; Tit.1:15-16; Heb.10:14-22, 1.Pet.1:22; 1.Jn.3:1-3; 4:4.

"Haven't  you yet learned that your body is the home of the  holy spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you?  Your own body does  not  belong to you.  For God has bought you with  a  great price. So  use every part of  your body to give glory  back  to God, because he owns it" (1.Cor.6:19-20 LPB).

"Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and the spirit of God  dwells  in you? If anyone destroys God's  temple,  God  will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1.Cor.3:16-17 NIV).

"Now  therefore  you are no more strangers  and  foreigners,  but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ  himself  being  the chief cornerstone; In  whom  all  the building  fitly framed together grows into a holy temple  in  the lord:  In whom you are also built together for an  habitation  of God through the spirit" (Eph.2:19-22).

The  writings  of the apostles leave no doubt that  the  physical body of a child of God is a temple of God; it is the sacred place where The holy spirit dwells.

The Indwelling of the Spirit

"No  one  has seen God at any time. If we love one  another,  God abides  in us, and his love having been perfected in us. By  this we know that we abide in him , and he in us, because of his spirit he has given to us" (Jn.4:12-13 Para.). See Lk.24:46-49; Acts 5:32.

There  are  a number of very important things to note  from  what John says:

SUMMARY

While  the  temple existed in Jerusalem and was attended  by  the priesthood,  anyone who wanted to perform certain acts  of  worship could do so at Jerusalem. However, after the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., there was no place for the priesthood to officiate  or sacrifices to be offered:

"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their  sins  and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he says,  A new  covenant, he has made the first old, Now that which  decays and waxes old, is ready to vanish away" (Heb.8:12-13 KJV).

When  the last vestige of the presence of God's spirit  left  the temple  just before its destruction, what remained of  the  system of worship that God gave to national Israel has been suspended  until Christ returns to establish a new temple system under the Kingdom of God. Until  this event occurs, the only place that the presence of  God dwells is within the children of God.

The  Biblical record clearly shows that  the Father has moved  the place where he has chosen to place his presence three times:

1. From Mount Sinai to the tabernacle

2. From the tabernacle to the temple

3. From the temple to the children of his new creation

Each of these moves was preceded by fire that came out of heaven and  rested  upon  the  place where he was  going  to  place  his presence.

The Holy of Holies

Within the heart of the tabernacle and later the temple, was  the Holy of Holies where the high priest met with God once a year  on the  Day of Atonement. In this most sacred place was the  ark  of the covenant  where the presence of God rested. The ark  of  the covenant  contained the ten commandments written in stone by  the finger  of God, Aaron's rod, which signified his authorization to meet with God and intercede for the people of Israel, and some of the  food (manna) God gave from heaven to sustain the Israelites as  they traveled in the wilderness.

Today, the Father's name rests upon his children and his presence dwells within their flesh through the power of  his  holy spirit. All who have the name and presence  of  the Father dwelling within them are a temple of God on earth. Within  this  temple of flesh, the law of God is written  in  the hearts  of his children. As long as they live within this  temple of  flesh,  they have the authority to communicate,  serve,  and worship  the Father wherever they are and receive daily spiritual nourishment to sustain them as they journey through life.

Within the children of God is the most holy place on earth: it is where  the spirit of God resides and where God the  Father  and Jesus Christ meet with those who are called to salvation.

The Place of Worship

Now God's temple and his Holy Place are within his chosen  people (the  elect of God) and no matter where they are on  this  earth, they can meet with the Father and Jesus Christ. A worshiper of God no longer has to go to the temple to offer sacrifices or to  observe annual festival days or other observances. All of God's festivals and observances can be observed anywhere one of his children is or wherever they gather to fellowship and worship him.

The Day of Pentecost has many important meanings for a  Christian today. However, perhaps the most inspiring meaning is the fact  that  God the Father has moved the dwelling  place  of  his presence into his children.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w53