Thursday, July 13, 2006

The God whose dwelling is with flesh

The God whose dwelling is with flesh
According to Greek mythology their gods dwelt in Mount Olympus.  Very seldom did they make contact with mortal beings.  And, when they did, for the most part, all they did was cause trouble.  They fornicated with mortal beings, caused wars, created tragedies; all this in a very arbitrary and whimsical way – sort of like humans.  Although they were believed to be immortal, they had very human traits.  Many times people believed their gods would not listen, and had to be pleased with a sacrifice, for their gods to intervene.  These gods could do as they pleased; humans were bound by rules the gods could change at any given moment, without prior notice.  The gods did not care, for like the Babylonian gods, their dwelling was not with flesh. 
This is probably why the sorcerers, et al. said to Nebuchadnezzar about his unusual request in Daniel 2: 11,  
Daniel 2: 11 And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. 
I am thankful that Daniel knew that his God was not like the Babylonian god's.  Daniel must have known that the true and only living God was omnipresent.  Yes, God dwells above the heavens, but He also dwells among us.  The Bible is full of examples of how God dwells among us.  He appears to us and intervenes in our affairs in various forms.  He appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18.  He appeared to Jacob in Genesis 32.  The books of Exodus through Deuteronomy details how God appears to Moses and leads His people to the promise land.  The writer of Exodus says further,
Exodus 13: 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
Exodus 13: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
When God gave to Moses the instructions to build the sanctuary He said to Moses,  "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" Exodus 25:8.  And, His Shekinah Glory filled the Most Holy Place.  He appeared to Joshua as the Captain of the Hosts of heaven (Joshua 5:14).
All these examples, among others, must have been in Daniel’s mind when he found out about their impending death.  Daniel knew that a God that bothered to care for those who are "made lower than the angels" (Psalms 8:5) would not abandon them in this great time of need.  God heard their prayer, and answered it.  But, our story does not stop there.  We now know that the prophecy revealed, gave details of how God cares for the affairs of man in this sinful world.  The final scenes in the prophetic dream show that God will put an end to Sin and the sufferings caused by Sin. 
But, there is one point often omitted.  God, knowing all things, worked things out so that Daniel and His friends were in the palace (or close to it) when Nebuchadnezzar had the dream.  God did this, for the sake of Daniel and friends, Nebuchadnezzar, and His people of which you and I are part of.  Indeed, Daniel's intervention still has an impact in our life today. 
A few hundred years after, God dwelt among men, in the form of the Son of Man.  John 1:1, 14 says,
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
In fact his name was Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23).  After Jesus ascension, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us as a Comforter (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7).  
Thankfully, we have a God who became what He despises, to dwell among those He loves.  Thankfully we have a God who dwells in those whom chose to let Him dwell.  We have a God who intervenes in our behalf and for our good.