The presence of God is a powerful thing. His nearness is something our souls naturally long for because He is our Creator.
“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” Psalm 73:28
In fact, from the very beginning God designed us to be near to Him, and to be in a relationship with Him.
“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool3 of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:8
Unfortunately, when Eve was tempted and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the reality of sin forced her and Adam to be separated from God both physically and spiritually.
“Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:22-24
And, like Adam and Eve, our separation from God causes us all kinds of heartache. We sense that we were made for more than the world has to offer, and we might even know about God or believe He exists, but until we lay hold of the promise Jesus makes to reconcile us to God through His death and resurrection that defeats sin and death, we cannot know the presence of God in the way we were intended to.
Even for those of us who have put our faith in Jesus’s sacrifice to bridge the gulf between us and God created by our sin, we have yet to fully experience the tangible, physical presence of God the way Adam and Eve did in the Garden. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit and we do get to experience glimpses and tastes of God’s presence… but we’re not experiencing the fullness just yet.
At times, we actually feel that gap of partial-but-not-total in really tangible ways. Heartbreak. Broken relationships. Death. Sin that ravages families. Pain. Tears. Disease. Racism. Natural disasters. Unjust systems. These are the things that make hope hard. The things that point to the reality that we are waiting for the full experience of God’s presence when He will make all things new (Rev. 21:5).
So, dear friends, when hope is just plain hard, let’s remember… Jehovah Shammah is coming. Jehovah Shammah means “Jehovah is there.”
We see this name in Ezekiel 48 as Ezekiel describes the holy city that is to come, where God will reign.
“And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD Is There.”” Ezekiel 48:35b
The best part of the coming city and His return is that we will no longer live in the partial-but-not-total! No longer will we feel the pain of separation or the angst of broken things, because HE WILL BE THERE. His presence made tangible. Fully present and fully experienced for eternity.
John writes about it in his vision of the new Jerusalem in Revelation this way:
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “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 21:2-3
The dwelling place of God is with man–just as it was in the Garden, the way He designed it to be. There is a time coming when those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ will know the sweetness of God’s physical presence. The tangible goodness of His nearness.
Is your heart heavy? Are you weary of the separation and brokenness of earth? Point your heart the to the truth of God’s Word – He IS coming back. He WILL be near forever. Hope in the things to come.