imagine this in badly drawn stick figures if you will:

God and man (as in mankind/people) in harmonious relationship walking together in the garden, the place of creation, unified in relationship, God somehow receiving something from this engagement with His creation.

something happens – man decides to choose self over obedience to God and relationship breaks down – we have the word ‘sin’ but really it is simply an indication of relationship gone wrong, breakdown of engagement, distance and an obstacle or barrier between man and God.

man is banished from the place of creation and heads out by himself, left to his own devices (which quickly leads to murder) and God sets in place His plan of restoring the way things were in the beginning.

Round [1] – God appears to individuals and start to show them a blueprint of the way things are meant to be – God calls a man and then a nation, Israel, and says, “you will be a blessing to other nations.”

Round [2] – God shows up from time to time in different manners and disguises to an individual and they pass on the messages He speaks.

Round [3] – God moves into a tent – well not quite, but the people are struggling with such an abstract picture of God and so as Israel wanders around the desert, God allows His presence to settle in the tabernacle, in the holy of holies chamber and communicates through the priests, and particularly the high priest on one special day every year.

Round [4] – the people settle, eventually making it to the promised land (after much trial and disobedience and grace on God’s part as time and time again they continue to choose their way over His, but He remains faithful to the restoration process) and so God settles (well, not really) and makes the building of the temple His place of encounter with the people, still through the chosen order of the priests.

Round [5] – a lot of time has passed and it has been a while since God appeared directly to anyone, altho the messages of the prophets, talking of a time in the near future when He will come and bring justice and mercy once again and they hold tightly to that. suddenly, God arrives on the scene – having sent messengers who are for the most part ignored, ridiculed and executed, He decides that a personal visit is in order and so Jesus shows up [God, and yet Son of God] and once more walks among the people – He declares that God is wanting an intimate relationship, using terms like ‘abba’ (daddy) and ‘Father’ to address God directly – and then dies in an act that somehow destroys the sin, obstacle, barrier that has stopped man from really getting close to God.

Round [6] – as Jesus is leaving, He speaks of His Holy Spirit who will come and live in those who choose to die to their own lives (wants, greeds, agendas) and follow Him and His ways – a few weeks later, as the followers of Jesus are hanging out together, this happens dramatically and like a cloud of fire the Spirit settles on them and they (and 3000 other people who happened to be in the vicinity) are transformed forever.

this is obviously a very simplistic way of telling the Bible story, but i was just struck once more this morning at our church gathering how it went from a place of intimacy and engagement to a place of separation and that there was the process of God speaking through a man – to the tent – to the temple – to God coming down – to us becoming the temple and having God live in us, preparing us for another day when it will be returned to the way it was.

This excites me.