God has had me on a journey of coming home. I don’t think I realized this until our last series here at Redeemer Church. During the month of Imago Dei teachings, I was asking the Father how do we get back to His original intent in the Garden of Eden, and He took me to a very unexpected place, Mount Sinai, specifically the scene in Scripture when Moses climbs Mount Sinai to receive God’s revelation while the rest of the Israelites were to wait at the foot of the mountain for his return.
Up on the mountain, God was giving Moses not just the Ten Commandments, but the whole Torah, the stories, the laws, the customs that were to shape these people into a people—He was giving them a culture, showing them what Home was to be like. He also gave the instructions for building the Tabernacle, the structure that would become God’s dwelling place among them. (Find the full account of this in Exodus 19-34).
And God began to show me the contrast between the Israelites who lost hope quickly as they waited for Moses to come back down the mountain and that of the boldness of Moses who dared to climb the mountain where God’s presence was manifesting and asked to see His glory. In the end, God talked to Moses as a friend, and Moses came down the mountain literally radiating light from having been in God’s presence, bolding Him unveiled, being transformed into His image to a greater degree. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the rest of the Israelites grew impatient in the wait and made an image of a lesser god, a lifeless, powerless gold calf that they began to worship and bow down to.
Then one day I was driving, mediating on the Garden of Eden scene, turning the language and imagery over and over in my mind, when all of the sudden the scene of Jesus breathing on his disciples on the evening of his resurrection and saying, “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22) shot through my mind so vividly. And just like the language used in the Garden of Eden, “image of God” echoed at Mount Sinai, I saw a similar echo happening here in this scene between Jesus and his disciples—the text uses the same language as in the garden, God “breathed” and life was created.
But there is something curious happening in this scene, though Jesus says, “receive the Holy Spirit,” we do not see the Holy Spirit fall on the disciples in power until many days later at Pentecost. So I started asking the LORD, “why the wait?” what is actually happening here? And I started to research Pentecost. I discovered that Pentecost is the Greek translation of the Jewish festival known as Shavout or Feast of Weeks. It is a grain harvest that is all about the reward found at the end of the waiting period. Even the names of this festival is all about the time passing, the counting of the days from Passover to Pentecost. It got even more interesting when I discovered that when the disciples were gathered for Pentecost, they were celebrating the ancient Hebrew Feast of Weeks that commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. So when the Holy Spirit fell on them in Acts 2, a new age was launched and the church was born, rooted in the ancient Hebrew tradition of waiting for the full harvest, of waiting for the revelation and provision from God.
Jesus breathed on His disciples and many days later, they reaped the harvest of that action—it did not happen immediately. At Mount Sinai, we learn to wait in patience for God, to seek His face, to ask Him to show us His glory. At Pentecost, we learn to wait in patience for God’s promises, we learn that He is willing to come in close, to be intimate, and to equip us for things we could never do on our own.
God Wants to Make a Home with You
And while both of these stories, Mount Sinai and Pentecost, echo the language of God creating man in His image, creating a flashback effect to the Garden of Eden, they also foreshadow the restored New Heaven and New Earth. So I began to journey through these four points in the Biblical narrative, Eden, Mount Sinai, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the picture of the New Heaven and Earth as depicted in Revelation 21. And as I looked, I saw a new theme develop. In each of these four points along the timeline indicate a new order, a turning point in history, a thrust toward greater closeness between God and His people. In each of these stories, I began to see the idea of home pervading each one. God making His home with His people. And in the wait we find the heart of the Bridegroom preparing a home for His Bride.
In Eden we find God’s original intent to dwelling among His creation, walking through the Garden, communing without separation.
In Exodus, at Mount Sinai, Moses was shown how to make the tabernacle because God desired to dwell with His people. In Exodus 25:8 we find God saying, “They are to make a sanctuary for me so that I may dwell among them.” At that point in history, they were not living in the liberation of the atonement of Jesus Christ and there were so many barriers to God being among His people in their sin, and yet He longed to be near them, amongst them, so much so that He had them built a way to make that possible.
Then after Jesus died and his people’s sins were atoned for once and for all, the curtain in the tabernacle that had separated where God dwelt from where the people were allowed to go was torn in two—the barrier no longer needed. God could now dwell among His people (if their hearts welcome Him) without hinderance. I wonder if God’s heart was exploding with joy? Finally His Spirit was able to get in close, no separation, and move in power and love like never before. And a new age was ushered in, God dwelling among His people, making His home within them.
All of this has made my heart so tender toward Christmas, because at Christmas, we see the hinge point of it all—the center glory—God taking on the image of man in order to dwell, to tabernacle, to make His home among His people. The Bridegroom, came near to woo His bride and give Himself for her.
Christmas is a signpost of the journey home, a reminder to create the space for God to dwell with me and me with Him. This is God’s heart. This is why Jesus came. Jesus brought the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth, and we get to partner with Him to bring more and more of Heaven to Earth, working with Him toward the mission of reconciliation—its all about God making His dwelling place with His people.
When John is receiving the revelation of the New Heaven and the New Earth he says, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3). The whole story resolves having come full circle, God is dwelling with His people, in the fullest sense.
What I find so stunning is His dedication, His commitment, His insistent longing to make His home with His people through every phase of history. No matter the limitations and barriers created by sin, He is willing to do whatever it takes to be near His bride and make His home with her.
Revival Around Tables and Fires
There are practical implications of this for our lives this Christmas, not only should we allow the space in our souls to long for the fullness of God’s promised restoration when we will know fully even as we are fully known, but there is much to do in the waiting. The Bridegroom is preparing a home for His bride and the bride has made herself ready.
God has put home on my heart this Christmas, and it is no coincidence. I have heard it said that the next wave of revival in the church will happen in homes, around tables, and fires—and I believe this with all my heart. I want to make space for rival in my own home, partnering with God’s movement. I believe that if we make the space for God to make His home in us and we in Him, we will begin to see more of His presence in our physical homes, the Kingdom coming in connection and wonder.
Consider the paradigm established for us at the conclusion of Acts 2, the new believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching (that likely came through stories of the Messiah told late into the night as the candles burned low) and the fellowship (the brotherhood, friends become family and family become friends), they broke bread together, they prayed together and they were filled with awe as many signs and wonders were done among them. They were generous with what they had, and shared readily, and everyone’s needs were met. And the result: God added daily to the number of those being saved.
Yes, it is not a new idea, this concept of revival happing in homes, but it is glorious and I see the stirrings of it happing all around me. If we are open to God showing up any way He wants, if we are seeking the Bridegroom’s heart in everything, and if we can patiently endure in the waiting, God’s presence will be known within your home to greater degrees of glory. And then when we come into our greater church gatherings together, our time will be so rich and full of life because we will have never left the presence of God all week long.
So this Christmas as you decorate your homes and cook your holiday treats, ask God how He wants to move in your home to a greater degree of glory. This will look different for each of us. Just ask Him, He is a good Father who wants to talk to you, to dwell with you, to provide for what you need. And He has a vision for you and the season you are in. So ask Him and move according to His answer. Will it be a time of big feasts and large gatherings or a time of deeper intimacy, and focused rest for your family? Will it be a time of mothering and fathering your own babies, or a time to meet and bring God’s prodigal sons and daughters into a home where they can learn in love? Whatever the season, even if it seems like a perfectly natural phase of life, become aware of God’s voice and movement within it. He has something unique for you, a greater degree of glory for your home.
Start imagining what revival in your home could look like. Bonfires and music and dancing. Miracles and signs and wonders. Worship and prayer. Laughter and rest. Ask Jesus how He wants to come and dwell among you this season, how does He want to show you His glory. He will answer you, just trust Him to provide and be patient as you wait for the provision. Advent after all is all about waiting for Jesus to come.
By Makaila Mobley, Office Manager at Redeemer Church