I was doing my BSF homework today and there were some questions about how the Tabernacle and the sacrifices that the priests had to make were so that God could be with them in the Most Holy Place. I realized that God has been trying to be with us since the Fall, since the day he expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden. He desired to be Immanuel, all that time. All the sacrifices were God telling them how to make it so that he could be with them without killing them, which I never really thought about before. I always thought of it from the perspective of the priests trying to clean themselves enough to be in God’s presence, which it is, but the point of that is so they won’t die and God can be with them. God can’t be with us when we are in our sin. Even under the ceremonial law, the priests couldn’t really see God’s face. We can not see God’s face until we are resurrected in sinless bodies. Jesus had to come as a man because that is the only way that he could be with us, the only way we could see him, while we are still sinful. That’s not the only reason, but I think it is a reason. Which makes me think that, even as much of a sacrifice as it must have been to give up his place in Heaven, what a joy to finally be with the creatures he loves so much. I think it must break God’s heart that he can’t actually be with us until the end of time. I think Big Daddy Weave said it pretty well: “The world waits while his heart aches to realize the dream.” The dream is being with us in a new, unbroken, sinless world.
Okay, Big Daddy Weave isn’t scripture. I’ve got one, though:
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. -Hebrews 12:1-3
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross…” What was that joy that is so compelling that Jesus would endure the cross? Being with us. Not being at the right hand of God, he didn’t need to go to Calvary to sit at God’s right hand. He had done that for eternity. What he can’t have if he doesn’t die on the cross is us in eternity. And that should never make us proud of how awesome we are. It should floor us, break us, to know that we worship a God who would suffer not just the cross but all of human history from Genesis to Revelation to realize the dream.
What struck me today for the first time, though, is how terribly we misunderstand power. When we hear that God is omnipotent, that he has ALL POWER, I think the way we understand that is that God can do anything he wants. But that’s not true. He has the power of life and death and all of creation. He holds the whole universe and all of eternity in his hand and he keeps it all going with his word. But he is not free, as we think of it, as we want freedom to be. God is free in that he does not need anything. But he is not free in that he is not capable of all possible things. He is always good and he is always God. He can not, therefore, yoke himself to unbelievers. He can not commune with evil. He can not sin, can not even abide sin. The God of the Universe is not without limitation. I think that is a thing that we have a hard time understanding. We think of power as being able to do what you want. Like a boss. But freedom is not acting without limitation and acting without limitation isn’t power. Or godly. It’s evil.