They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Where Heaven and Earth Meet – Part 2

We finished our first lesson with God creating a new space where He could dwell with His creation. After the Fall, God and man were separated from each other by sin. The tabernacle would be the new place and the new space where God could reunite with His people. As the intersection of heaven and earth, the Tabernacle was a constant reminder to the Israelites that God was with them as they traveled the wilderness and entered the Promised Land.

Later, God had them build Him a permanent space when they constructed Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. However, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied that in the future there would be a time when all of this would change. In Jeremiah 31:31-34, it says that God would change the old sacrificial system that was outward and put it in the hearts of the believers. Verse 34 finishes by saying that God will forgive their sin and remember their iniquity no longer.

In both the Tabernacle and the Temple, God said through the Temple ceremony sacrifice, “Your sins are forgiven”. Only God could forgive sins; forgiveness was only found at God’s house, the Temple. Fast forward nearly one thousand years until the time of Jesus’ coming. Jesus was with His disciples in the Galilee, ninety miles from Jerusalem and the Temple. Mark 2:1-12 tells the story of a lame man that four of his friends brought to see Jesus. They couldn’t get to Jesus because of the crowds, so they cut a hole in the roof and let the lame man down into the room in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven”. Immediately, the teacher of the law said that this was blasphemy, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They were saying, you can’t do that! Only God can do that and then only at the Temple.

Can you see the paradigm shift here? Jesus said to the teachers of the law, “The Son of man (Jesus) has authority on earth to forgive sins. I am the new Temple – I can forgive sins! I am where heaven and earth meet!” There are several other places in the gospels where Jesus told his listener, your sins are forgiven (e.g. Luke 7:48-49, where the listeners said, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”). In fact, what ultimately led to Jesus crucifixion was that He was messing up the Temple system. He was doing what the Temple was supposed to do and that was a huge threat to the Sadducees and Temple authorities.

God never intended for the Temple in Jerusalem to be the final answer to God dwelling with His people! Jesus was resurrected and went back to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, so where is the Temple now? Where is that space that God inhabits and where heaven and earth meet? Where do people come to have their sins forgiven? Because of what happened at Pentecost, we, the body of believers (1 Corinthians 3:16), are the New Temple (also Ephesians 2:19-21)! God came out of His old house at Pentecost and is now dwelling in His new one! We (the church) are where heaven and earth now meet! He wants His presence to be us! We are the body and bride of Christ! There are a lot of people out there that need forgiveness of sins and the church should be the place where those sins can be forgiven. We can say with authority from Jesus himself, to someone, “Your sins are forgiven if you believe on the name of Jesus Christ” (John 20:23). In our churches and in our daily lives we are supposed to be creating a space where God lives, so that when homeless, abandoned or hurting people come in they find the presence of God. When your grandkids come over, is there a little slice of time and space where heaven and earth meet; where they feel loved, protected and forgiven? In our church meetings, do the unclean and the unforgiven find welcome, acceptance, and absolution? We are the New Temple and we are the place that God wants to inhabit! He wants us to be the place where heaven and earth meet. Our heart is that space that God inhabits, where He dwells with His people. What God began in the Garden of Eden, with his desire to dwell among (tabernacle; John 1:14) His creation, He completed by sending His Son and His Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Additional reading:

  1. Discussion on “shakan” in Mount Sinai & The Mount of Transfiguration
  2. Creation Story in the Tabernacle

Where Heaven and Earth Meet – Part 1

When God first created heaven and earth in Genesis, they were both the same place. If you read the creation story, it does not talk about two distinct places where God lived and man lived. For example, the tree of life, which signified life without death, was located in the middle of the garden of Eden (Gen 2:9). This same tree of life is pictured in Revelations 2:7 and 22:2,14 as being in the new heaven at the end of the age. In Eden, God created a space where He could live with His creation. His perfect intention was for His people to dwell in His place, with full access to His presence. In Genesis 3:8, God was walking in the garden with His creation. It doesn’t say He came down from somewhere else to visit, it implies that He was there, his presence was with His creation in the garden He had created.


Because of the original sin of Adam and Eve, God was forced to drive them from the garden of Eden and put cherubim and a flaming sword to guard its eastern entrance and keep his creation from entering (Genesis 3:23). God was holy and could not live where sin was, so He had to separate himself from His creation.


The only hope that man now has is that God would have mercy and somehow redeem His fallen people that are separated from Him by the chasm of sin. The story of Eden is where the redemptive thread in the Bible begins. Who will pay the price for Adam and Eve’s rebellion? How do we get Eden back? The salvation story begins not with Jesus, but with Adam and Eve.

Because of His infinite mercy, God did not give up on his desire to dwell with His creation. In Exodus 25:9, he told Moses, “Have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them”. In this verse, you can hear the echo of Eden. God wants to live with His children again, so he has them build a sacred place where once again heaven and earth can meet and be one and the same.


Notice the similarities of the Tabernacle to the Garden. The entrance to both is from the east (Genesis 3:24 and Exodus 26). Both were guarded by cherubim (Genesis 3:24 and Exodus 26:31-33). God placed the tree of life in the garden (Genesis 2:9). In the construction of the Tabernacle, God told the craftsmen to build the menorah to resemble the tree of life, with buds, blossoms, branches and fruit (Exodus 25:31-39). The tabernacle was erected on the first day of the New Year (Exodus 40:17) to signify a new beginning between God and His people (see also Creation Story in the Tabernacle).

Heaven and earth could now meet in the Hoy of Holies where God lived in the Tabernacle. Time and space would meet here where God would forgive the sins of the people through the sacrificial system He put in place. For one small moment, the Garden of Eden would be back, sins would be forgiven, and worshipers would experience what heaven is like. God would be living with His people again.

Creation Story in the Tabernacle

Adam & Even Driven from Eden --Gustave DoreAs you read and study about the Tabernacle, you definitely notice some parallels between it and the creation story.  What was God doing, or trying to say to His created?

First of all, in both stories God was creating a space where He could come and live with His creation.  In both stories God came and met with them and walked with them in His created space. His desire from the beginning was to come and live with His chosen people.

As God created the universe He divided into three sections; the visible Earth, the visible heavens, and the invisible heavens.  He also divided the Tabernacle into three parts; the outer court, where ordinary people would be, the priest court, and the Holy of Holies, where God would be.  You can definitely see the similarity in creation in that God would live in the invisible heavens, man would dwell on earth. The  priests were a symbol of how man could get to the invisible places where God lives.

When God created the universe, it took Him six days.  On the seventh day He rested. Now compare that to the  seven times in Exodus where it says.  “The Lord said to Moses” (Exodus 25:1, 30:11, 30:17, 30:22, 30:34, 31:1, and 31:12).  This equates with the seven times that God said “let there be” in Genesis.

The seventh time God said.  “Let there be”, the Scripture said.  “He rested”.  The seventh time” God said to Moses”, it was, don’t do any work on the Sabbath.  Rest.  (Exodus 31:12 and 13).

The main job for the inhabitants of the Garden of Eden, was to work the land and take care of God’s home (see Genesis 2:15).

The main job for the priest was to take care of all the furnishings and do the work in God’s new home.  (Numbers 3:7-8).

The entrance to the Garden of Eden was on the east.  The entrance to the Tabernacle was also in the East.  See Genesis 3:24 and (Exodus 26 process of deduction).

The entrance to the Garden of Eden was guarded by cherubim (Genesis 3:24).  The entrance to the Tabernacle and the holy of holies were guarded by cherubim woven into the fabric.  (Exodus 26:31-33).

God placed a tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9).  When God had the Israelites craftsmen build the lamp stand or menorah, He had them build it to resemble and represent the tree of life, with buds, blossoms, branches, and fruit.  (Exodus 25:31- 39).

In Ezekiel 28:13, it lists the precious stones that were present in the Garden of Eden.  These are the same stones that are worn by the priest in the Tabernacle (Exodus 28:17- 20), painting another picture and parallels of the 2 places.

The complete Tabernacle was erected on the New Year’s day (Exodus 40:17), which signified a new era, a new beginning for God’s people.  This mimics the creation story, which was, of course, the new beginning for mankind.  God was saying in Genesis and  Exodus ,”this is a new creation”.  The Tabernacle is, in some many ways, the renewed version of the Garden of Eden.  God was, again, trying to live with his people.

Compare the Scriptures: Genesis 2:1 with Exodus 39:32.  Both use similar language and say “all the work was completed”.  Compare Genesis 1:31 with Exodus 39:43– both God and Moses saw what was done and said “it is good.”  Compare Genesis 2:2 with Exodus 40:33.  The Bible says in both verses, Moses and God “finished the work.”  So much of the creation language is used again in the building of the Tabernacle.

To summarize, when God had the Israelites construct the Tabernacle, He was re-creating something that was already in place in heaven.  He was just making a smaller version of the furnishings in heaven.  And the Tabernacle was also a re-creation of the events at the creation.  God was starting over, in another attempt to dwell among his creation. God continued  this theme with his final act to dwell among his creation when he sent his son Jesus to earth to dwell among men (John 1:14).  Now He lives among us, in our hearts, instead of in a tent made by human hands. Amazing grace!