Bible Readings for January 3rd

Genesis 3 | Matthew 3 | Ezra 3 | Acts 3

Although it’s difficult to see in English translations, Genesis 3:8 is one of the most tragic verses in the whole Bible: “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” The form of the word “walking” used in this passage is better translated as “walking back and forth,” a phrase describing the perfection of Yahweh’s presence with his people. This is what Adam and Eve lost: personal, intimate, and free fellowship with Yahweh himself.1

But this isn’t the last place we see Yahweh “walking back and forth” among his people. Later in the Bible, we will see how this word is used to describe Yahweh’s presence in the midst of Israel’s camp, and particularly within the tabernacle and the temple (Lev. 26:12; Deut. 23:14; 2 Sam. 7:6–7).

Why? Because the story of the Bible relates how Yahweh overcomes sin to dwell with his people again.

The tabernacle under Moses is a first step, with the more permanent temple built under Solomon as the next step. But ultimately, the sin of Israel drives Yahweh to depart from the temple (Ezek. 10, 11:14–25), and then to destroy the temple altogether (2 Kings 25:9). Even when Israel rebuilds the temple (Ezra 6:14), Yahweh’s presence never enters a temple building again.

So, it should come as a shock when we read in John 1:14 that “the Word became flesh and dwelt [lit., “tabernacled”] among us.” And when Jesus defied the Jews, saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), it should surprise us to find out he was speaking about the temple of his own body (John 2:21).

But in fact everything Jesus would be and do was prophesied right back here in Genesis 3:15, a verse theologians call “the first gospel.” Here, God promises that he will raise up from the woman offspring who will eventually bruise the head of the serpent, while the serpent will only be able to bruise his heel. And once Jesus Christ puts Satan away forever, God will once again dwell with his people.

Today, we are now awaiting the scene foretold in Revelation 21:3: “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.” On that day, there will be “no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev. 21:22).

So let’s keep reading—there is an incredible story to bring us from Genesis 3 to Revelation 21.

1 As with yesterday’s meditation, I am relying heavily for today’s meditation on G. K. Beale’s book The Temple and the Church’s Mission (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004).

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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