December 07, 2020
The Christian season of Advent celebrates and remembers the coming of God to His people via the incarnation.
One of the recurring themes found in the Hebrew prophets is God’s promise to come and dwell with His covenantal people. There is a certain degree of intrigue and theological inquiry that comes with this promise.
What’s intriguing about this promise is that within the theological framework of the Old Testament, God has already created a means through which His people can access the presence of God: the temple and the sacrificial system. Why, then, does God promise to come and dwell among his people when He is already able to do so through the means of the first covenant established at Sinai? The answer to this question reveals the beauty and power of the New Covenant (established through the redemptive and atoning work of Jesus at Calvary).
With the first covenant (established through Moses in the desert at Sinai) the sacrificial system provided a means through which the people of God can enter into God’s presence. With the New Covenant, the Holy Trinity creates a means by which God is able to enter into the life of His covenantal people. This is a recapitulation of the first covenant. The New Covenant represents a means through which communion with the Divine is able to reach an entirely new level of intimacy unknown to the Sinai covenant. With the first covenant the people of God were obligated to undergo a series of rituals and practices in order to take on a special status (“clean”), thus making them eligible to enter into God’s presence; and even here, communion with God had to take place at a distance.
With the New Covenant and the incarnation of God however, God Himself takes on the form of humanity, in order to enter into the deepest and most intimate places of the human existence. With the incarnation God can place Himself at the center of what it is to be human. He becomes a part of us so that we may become a part of Him. He does not come to us so as to share in our lives, rather, He comes to us so that He can share His life with us.
This represents an entirely new kind of communion with God. It is no longer we who enter into His presence, it is He who enters into ours.
– Dr. Matt Ayars