Away in a manger

Read:  GOD With Us And The Cultural Yawn


God WITH us

Who is in that manger means everything.

More than a baby and more than something cute.

More than a decoration for the front lawn.

This is Jesus the Son of the living God.

The creator of the universe has humbled himself and taken on human flesh.

Matthew 1:23
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).

What does it mean that Jesus dwelt among us?

In Genesis 1,2, 3 we read about the creation and fall of man.

In the garden there was no separation between God and man. Man was without sin.  Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve sinned and God drove them out of the garden.  Man, was then separated from God’s presence.

Fast forward to John chapter 1.  The whole chapter is great to read but let’s focus on one word in this one verse when John says:

John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…

This word “dwelt” flies by us unnoticed.  But, we need to pause here because that one word packs quite a punch.

Here is what is interesting. John, had at his disposal other words that he could have used for “dwell”. But he uses the word skēnoō.

Who cares right?  Dwell means dwell…. doesn’t it?

Well, not exactly.

Here is what is amazing. John’s word for dwell is the word skēnoō. This word means tent and it is a verb.  Huh?  How is tent a verb?

I know…. you are thinking “big deal, so what?”  Hang with me!  

What does it mean to “tent” – verb?

It means that Christ came and took on human flesh, born of a virgin, in a manger to pitch His tent among us.

Now, that may sound really odd to us, but for John’s original hearers, they would have immediately made some connections.

An original hearer of John’s gospel would have heard the words: “pitch his tent among us” and would have immediately remembered the history of Israel.  The tabernacle was the place that God met with His people.

(Don’t forget about Adam and Eve and the garden and sin and separation from God.)

This tabernacle was covered by…… you guessed it….. a tent.  The tabernacle was also known as the “tent of meeting.”

And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

(Exodus 29:46 ESV)

So we have a garden and sin which brings about a separation between God and man and now, here in Exodus, we have God dwelling among His people…. again.

Now, He is NOT dwelling among His people because they are without sin, or because they have earned this, or anything else. We are to read Exodus and see God dwelling among His people and realize this happened by the mercy and grace of God!

Jump forward to Exodus 33 and it is here we see that it is in the Tabernacle that God had fellowship with His people, Israel.

In verse 8 we find Moses going into the Tabernacle / Tent of meeting and everyone stopped to watch.

Drop everything….“Moses is going into the tent of meeting!” They were in awe.

Why? Verse 9 says that whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting, a pillar of cloud would descend. (Wow!)

God came down to dwell with His people!

So here is what is happening. The Tabernacle was a reminder of what Adam and Eve had in the garden, but not fully…. It was the Lord’s presence in a cloud.  AND, it was a shadow of what was to come.  Remember John 1:14

God, after He delivered His people from Egypt would come and descend and dwell among His people in the Tent of Meeting / Tabernacle.

What an amazing scene!
God is declaring: “Despite your sinfulness – I am with My people! I will dwell among my people.”

Fast forward to King David.  David wants more than a tent / tabernacle.  He wants to build a temple, a permanent house for the Lord where God’s presence would exist.

God told David no. But, God did allow David’s son Solomon to build a temple for the Lord.

The tabernacle and the temple were reminders of what Adam and Eve had in the Garden and a shadow of God’s presence that is to come.

Jesus is coming – literally God himself is coming to pitch his tent among us!  That is what John is telling us. God is (verb) pitching His tent among us!  And, this is not because we deserve His presence. He comes and descends not in a cloud but in human flesh to dwell among us – even though we are sinful and undeserving!  By His mercy and grace He comes and dwells / pitches His tent among us!

God WITH us!

John is telling us that the way God descended and dwelt among His people in the Tabernacle, that very same thing – and more – is happening in Jesus Christ. Now, God has descended not in a cloud, but in the flesh! And, He is dwelling among us!

Jesus is pitching His tent to dwell among His people! Jesus, the Eternal God, creator of the universe, Light of the world, He became flesh and tabernacled among us.

Merry Christmas!!

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