The Presence of God

This session was taught at the Christ Church Manchester School of Theology on Saturday 16th June 2018. The CCM School of Theology was set up to serve local churches in Manchester and beyond.

Topic: The Presence of God

In this session, we look at the presence of God in Scripture.

Speaker: Dave Horsefall

Dave is the Associate Director of Leeds School of Theology and is on the Leadership team at Mosaic Church Leeds.



The Presence of God in Scripture


The Presence of God, an Overview

  • Genesis 1-3 –God established his temple, a place where he dwells with his people.
  • Revelation 21-22 –God established his temple, a place where he dwells with his people.
  • Genesis 4-Revelation 20 –God seeks to establish his temple, a place where he will dwell with his people.
  • God’s temple is a big deal!!

OT and ANE Cosmology

  • Gen 7:11-20; 8:1-5; 11:4;
  • 49:25
  • Exodus 15:8; 20:4
  • Deuteronomy 5:8; 28:12;
  • 33:13
  • 2 Samuel 22:8-17
  • Job 9:6, 22:12-14; 26:8-14;
  • 36:27-30; 37:18; 38:4-38
  • Psalm 19:4-6; 74:13-17; 75:3;
  • 89:9-12; 93:1-4; 102:25;
  • 104:1-9; 135:6-7; 136:5-9
  • Proverbs 3:19-20;
  • 8:22-29; 25:3
  • Isaiah 14:12-15; 24:18-19;
  • 40:21-26; 42:5; 45:18;
  • 38:13; 51:13; 65:17; 66:1-2
  • Jeremiah 4:23-28;
  • 10:11-13; 51:16
  • Ezekiel 32:7-8
  • Daniel 4:10-11
  • Zechariah 12:1
  • Malachi 3:10

Genesis 1-3, Creation as Temple

  • Idols/Images –Genesis 1:26-28 Humanity is the image of God, the idol in the temple
  • Genesis 2.7 –the breath of God animates the image with life.
  • Humanity serves as priests in God’s temple. Genesis 2:15:TheLORDGod took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it (ʿābad) and keep it (šāmar).
  • This phrase appears in connection to the priestly activity in the temple in Numbers 3:7-8, 8:26, 18:5-6.
  • God is present in his temple, walking in the cool of the day Gen 3.8 as he does later in the tabernacle Lev 26:12, 2 Sam 7:6-7

Revelation 21-22, New Creation as Temple

Revelation 21:1-5

‘Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea (chaos is gone). 2I saw the Holy City,the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God (God’s presence with his people re-established). 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,for the old order of things has passed away. (all disorder and non-order is gone)”

Revelation 21:22-27

22I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light,and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25On no day will its gates ever be shut,for there will be no night there. 26The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life

Revelation 22:1–5

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life,as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life,bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse.The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face,and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night.They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.And they will reign for ever and ever.

Scripture is a Journey from Presence to Presence

  • God is with his people, Israel. This is through Abraham and his family.
  • He appears to Moses in Exodus 3 and promises in verse 12:”And God said, “I will be with you.And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
  • God rescues his people from slavery and is present in a pillar of fire and smoke in Exodus 13.
  • In Exodus 33 Moses pleads to YHWH not to leave his people despite their idolatry and YHWH in verse 14: ‘The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”’

The Temple of Solomon

  • Solomon builds a home for YHWH in the midst of his people. Psalm 46 documents what this means for the people:

1God is our refugeand strength, an ever-presenthelpin trouble.–God is always with them 4There is a riverwhose streamsmake glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most Highdwells.–the temple is a place of life and blessing –Jerusalem has no river –God is it’s river of life. 5God is within her,she will not fall; God will helpher at break of day–YHWH brings protection. 8Come and see what theLORDhas done, the desolationshe has brought on the earth. 9He makes warscease to the ends of the earth. God’s presence means peace and rest He breaks the bowand shatters the spear; he burns the shieldswith fire– YHWH presence means peace and rest.

Presence Departed and Promised

  • Ezekiel 10 tells of the glory of YHWH departing the temple.
  • Ezekiel 37, however, holds out hope that YHWH will return:

24“‘My servant Davidwill be kingover them, and they will all have one shepherd.They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived.They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever,and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26I will make a covenant of peacewith them; it will be an everlasting covenant.I will establish them and increase their numbers,and I will put my sanctuary among themforever. 27My dwelling placewill be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28Then the nations will know that I theLORDmake Israel holy,when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”

Jesus, God With Us

  • Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).
  • The Christ comes, God’s presence incarnate in the person of Jesus.
  • John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling (σκηνόω– have my tabernacle) among us. We have seen his glory,the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • Jesus is the true image of God (2 Cor 4:4, Col 1:15, Hebrews 1:1-3), the second Adam, the firstborn from among the dead, the beginning of a new humanity.

Jesus and Creation

  • Jesus re-enacts creation in John 20:19-23:

19On the evening (the cool of the day)of that first day of the week (first day of a New Creation), when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders (humanity in hiding as Adam and eve were),Jesus came and stood among them and said,“Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21Again Jesus said,“Peace be with you! (Peace and Rest)As the Father has sent me,I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them (Genesis 2.7 repeated) and said,“Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.(Peacemakers)”

Pentecost and The Presence

  • Jesus promises the Spirit in John 14 and 16
  • Acts 2 and Pentecost –new humanity is filled with the Spirit of God.
  • The temple system is over. Now the church is the temple.
  • The result of the spirit being given is a new nation, a new community who display the peace and rest of God. Acts 2:42-47
  • The church is now the dwelling place of God 2 Cor 6:16. A chosen people, a holy nation.
  • What does it mean for the church to be the dwelling place of God?

Church as God’s Dwelling Place

  • Church planting
  • Social justice – care for the poor, the widow, the alien
  • Evangelism
  • Holiness – Fruit of the Spirit in increased measure
  • Diversity of people – ages, races, sexualities, genders
  • Culture Creation and Shaping – your workplace matters as it shapes society


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