God spoke to Moses “face to face” as if speaking to a friend or a brother on Mount Sion and whenever “Moses entered the Tent of Meeting, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses”. To serve his master, to ensure sanctity of the place as also to develop a personal relationship with the LORD, Moses’ young aide, Joshua would remain at the tent (Exodus 33:9-11). It was for his commitment and sincerity that the LORD selected Joshua as Moses’ successor and promised to be with him while he led the Israelites into the conquest of “The Promised Land”. God’s sending of His only begotten Son to the earth to be born as a man and face His wrath on the cross is evidence of His desire to have a close relationship with mankind.
Type of relationship that God desires – Even after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden, God did not abandon them but came looking for them. God revealed to them the consequences of their sin and about the impending death and separation from God. It was at this stage that Adam realized his impending death and that ‘ishah’ or the woman was the only one who was in a position to help him leave something of him for posterity. The woman through her ability to give birth became more like God – in His image and likeness. It was then that Adam gave her a name “chavah” – she who gives life – and this added a spiritual dimension to their relationship that so far was more physical in eating the fruit etc. while the woman was ‘ishah’ before this, so was the man ‘ha adam’ – the man, which word has been used 21 times till he acquires the name Adam. Once both of them had understood the value and reality of their inter-personal relationship, God stepped in to clothe and bless them (Genesis 3:14-21).
What Lord Jesus commanded “Love your neighbor as yourself” was realized by both and only then could they understand the importance of God in their lives. So far God was referred to as “YHWH Elohim” – LORD God where Elohim – the plural form or the Holy Trinity – is about Divine justice while Yehovah (YHWH with vowels added) is about Divine compassion of sending His Son to be Lamb of God for mankind. We speak to YHWH- God the Father through the Son or in His name and He speaks to us through His Word – the Word in flesh – Lord Jesus and the written Word. We encounter God through revelation that comes to us through the third partner of the Holy Trinity – the Holy Spirit and not through creation or visible forms; though nature does declare His glory.
In Genesis chapters 2 and 3 God is referred to as YHWH Elohim together but after becoming aware of her own self and her relationship with Adam, she refers to God as YHWH alone after giving birth to a son (Genesis 4:1). The first chapter of Genesis is about creation of order out of chaos and man shares his origin with other living forms for all came from the earth. The change from nature to culture occurs through use of language in chapter 3 when Adam names all animals and other living beings and becomes aware of inter dependence on each other for life.
Despite their sin, God clothed Adam and Eve with garments and the two words used to describe this are –‘labash’ to clothe and ‘kotnot’ meaning garments (Genesis 3:21). The same two words are also used for appointment of Aaron as High Priest and his being clothed with priestly garments (Leviticus 8:7&13). At the time of Aaron’s death the same priestly garments are put on his son and ‘labash and kotnot’ are the two words used again (Numbers 20:28). God created mankind to fellowship with Him and commanded to tend to His creation but even after disobedience their role was not changed and God clothed them to be the first priests. Lord Jesus questioned Apostle Peter “Do you love Me more than these?” and then commanded him to “Feed My sheep” (John 21:15). The priestly appointment and caring for God’s creation turned full circle on the sea shore.
Why God appears to be so distant? – There are different phases of God’s relationship with mankind. The first phase is the Garden of Eden phase where God and man met face to face but at specific time – ‘cool of the day’ in the evening and at a specific place in the Garden. After their disobedience God did not abandon them despite their attempt to hide from God amidst and behind the trees. The call to Adam “Where are you?” is not about his location for the All-knowing God was aware of that but it was to ask them the reason of absence from the place of meeting. God and sinful man separated for man hid himself from the Holy God out of fear.
The second phase is about relationship of God with mankind from behind the thick curtain of separation and His meeting with Abraham and later with Moses where He spoke to Moses face to face as if to a friend. God could see Moses right in front but not Moses who sought Him to show His glory to get a reply that a sinful man could not see God and remain alive (Exodus 33:11; 18-20). Man could not establish direct contact with God but only a few chosen ones were allowed into His Divine presence. A High Priest could go near but that too after offering sacrificial offerings for condoning his and others sins which act was a pointer to the prophesy at the original sin in the Garden. God conveyed His commands to mankind through prophets, angels and through revelations by the Holy Spirit while waiting for crushing of the head of the devil by the seed of a woman and bruising of His heel (Genesis 3:15).
Prophetic announcement of the third phase was made by God through His prophet about the virgin birth of The Son and His name being Immanuel – God with us. The fulfillment of the prophesy was with the Word of God that had life in Him and who was the ‘Light of the world’ becoming flesh. The sinful darkness of the world could neither comprehend this light nor overcome Him despite various attempts (John 12:4-5). The same Word of God enlightened the whole universe at His command ‘Let there be light’ and since there was no compatibility with darkness the two were separated by God. This same Light of God restored order in the chaos on the earth to make it habitable and capable of producing and sustaining life while the sun, moon and stars were created on the fourth day only.
Lord Jesus, the Son of God is born as Immanuel or the Messiah and a new step is initiated in the relationship between man and God – God dwelt with man to reveal Himself and have a close relationship. The Savior Lord seals this fact with the declaration “He who has seem Me has seen the Father (God in heaven)” (John 14:8-10). And then He confirms His assigned role to ‘crush the head of evil’ by destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Before completion of this role on the Cross of Calvary Lord Jesus prayed for the believers and declares restoration of lost glory of the Garden of Eden by giving His glory of the Second Adam to the believers (John 17:22).
Distant God becomes one with mankind – Through faith in the Son all believers are especially blessed to be called the ‘children of God’ with the special privilege to seek and find Him at all times (John 1:12). God is Holy and just but the sin of man is transferred to the Son, Lord Jesus, on the cross and forgiveness is made possible. Our Lord has redeemed us from the clutches of sin and Satan through washing in His blood and anyone who is in Christ becomes a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The sinful life that was ‘void and without shape’ changes from darkness to light through removal of hatred, anxiety, fears and sickness of the body and soul to one full of God’s love, power and strength through the gradual process of sanctification.
The fourth phase of God’s relationship with man is this new creation in Lord Jesus and it starts after His ascension into heaven and enthronement in power. On the day of Pentecost the promise “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper” is fulfilled (John 14:16). The Helper descends like “tongues of fire” – the Holy Spirit that fills us with power, love and joy of knowing God intimately for God now dwells within man. This indwelling God – The Holy Spirit performs the role of strengthening both body and soul, intercession with God as an Advocate for us and acts as a Comforter.
This indwelling God teaches all things (spiritual and worldly) and helps in remembering all that the Lord taught about God the Father and worldly living thus helping in understanding the Word of God (John 14:26). In this manner He witnesses about the Savior Lord confirming His identity as the Son of God 9John 15:26) and fulfills His promise of being with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). In this new state all fears are removed through faith, and love, power and self control is established in man to help him overcome evil and darkness of the world and its temptations (2Timothy 1:7).
In this new state of closeness to God the acquired personal knowledge thren flows out to others in need of His Light of the Word. The Great Commission to reach out to others is God’s mission for all believers for He does not feel happy at the death of even a wicked person but rather desires all to return to Him (Ezekiel 18:23 & 33:11). A just God desires whole of creation to be restored to its original state and that none should perish. All believers are provided with the option of overcoming the forces of darkness and evil in His power and strength available through the Holy Spirit and the authority of His Word.
The indwelling God speaks to us through revelations of the mysteries of His Word and answers our prayers, though we retain the option of exercising our free will to reject His Son and His message. To those who ask, God promises to give; to those who seek Him, He makes Himself known and to those who knock on the door of His heart He allows access (Matthew 7:7). Lord Jesus taught perseverance as the key through the parable of the unjust judge and the widow who persevered to get justice (Luke 18:1-8). Despite the fact that our sins are forgiven and God dwells within, He does not change His nature and Apostle John gets the same message that was given to prophet Jeremiah in 17:10. “I, the LORD, search the heart and examine the mind to reward accordingly” (Revelation 2:23).
Future and eternal relationship with God – The Book of Revelation reveals the fifth phase of our relationship with God after the ‘Day of Judgement’. But before that happens, Satan will be allowed by God to make one final attempt to fulfill his evil desire. His assistants will defile the holy place in the temple, stop sacrifices and place one in place of God (Daniel 11:31). He will oppose everything that is of God or worshipped and set himself in God’s temple (2 Thessalonians 2:4). In a similar manner Lucifer had attempted to ascend into heaven to exalt his throne above the stars of God and become like the Most High God. He was defeated in this though he did manage to subvert the loyalty of one third of angels against God and was expelled from heaven (Isaiah 14:12-17).
The Book of Revelation carries details of activities of the devil’s rebellion and finally being tied in chains to be thrown into hell fires for eternal damnation. God will then establish His kingdom on earth in the eternal city of New Jerusalem that will descend from heaven and will cover an area of 12,000 stadia equivalent to 2,220 Kms on either side and vertically (Revelation 21:16). In that city there will be no temple “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple”. There will be no need of light from the sun or moon for the glory of God will illuminate it and the Lamb is its light. In the beginning of creation also the glory of God displayed through the Son had lit up the universe and the same will finally be again (Revelation 21:22-27).
At the end of the fifth phase “there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants (all believers) shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there (no sin); they need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light (Revelation 2:3-5).
God had intended to have such face to face intimate relationship with mankind from the beginning but their disobedience stopped that. God is in a close personal relationship with each believer through faith in His Son and this would further change into eternal fellowship in heaven.