THE MEETING PLACE OF GOD AND MAN
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
"And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
"And Jesus answered and said to him, "blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven."
"And I also say to you that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the Gates of Hades shall not overpower it." Matthew 16:13, 16-18
"In whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the spirit." Ephesians 2:21, 22
The Old Testament Shadow
One of the ways in which we can understand New Testament truth is by working ourselves backwards and then forward again. What I mean by that is that we go to the Old Testament to find the shadow or type of the truth that is fulfilled in the New Testament. We learn what we can from the shadow, then we proceed onward to the fulfillment in the New Testament. The idea of God meeting with man is much older than the written scriptures. However, let's go back into the Old Testament to find the place where God and man met.
The first place where God met Man was in the garden. This was an extremely beautiful place where God would walk with Adam in the cool of the day. This gives us several "hints" as to God's original intention for man. He wanted to meet with man in a very beautiful place. This place is not only very beautiful, but is also full of life. God filled the garden with all kinds of plant and animal life. In fact, God told Adam to eat some of this life; plant life. This is a place of plentiful life, and this life was to be the food for Adam. This is also a place of rest. In fact, it was while he was sleepy that God took the rib from his side and formed Eve. We also see that this garden was the perfect environment for man. Everything he needed was contained within this place. The garden is the place of fullness and fulfillment. The place where man would meet with God and be completely fulfilled.
This is the next major place that we see God meeting with man. The tabernacle or "tent of meeting" was a portable place where the nation of Israel could meet with God. Moses had it built according to God's specific instructions. When it was completed, the glory of the Lord filled the most holy place. The Holy of Holies was a small room that contained the Ark of the Covenant and all the walls were covered with curtains. The only light in that room would be the glory of the Lord. Many of the curtains had palm trees and pomegranetes embroidered on them to symbolize the garden of Eden. This was now the meeting Place of God and Man. Everything in this tent spoke of God's desire to fellowship with man and to be one with him. However, this tent was only temporary and would give way to the more permanent temple of Solomon.
Now the temple built by Solomon was a more permanent version of the tabernacle. However, this temple was the most lavish building ever constructed. The walls and floors were covered with gold and the curtains were luxuriant velvet. This was a most beautiful place! God had so blessed Solomon so that he could construct this temple in the most extravagant manner possible. Even in this temple, the reminders of the Eden existed. The pictures of palms and pomegranates were carried over from the tabernacle. And the glory of the Lord filled this temple as well.
The New Testament Reality
When we move over to the New Testament we can see the fulfillment of the shadows. Let's first take a look at the Gospels.
The story of Peter's confession that Jesus was the Son of the living God is filled with meaning. Notice how the Lord asked the question of the disciples, "who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Then notice how Peter replied, "you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus uses the term, the Son of Man, and Peter uses the term, the Son of God. And of course, both phrases are very appropriate. Here is one who is both the Son of Man and the Son of God. In Jesus Christ., both God and Man exist together. Here we have the meeting place of God and Man. God and Man meet together in Christ! Christ is the garden. Christ is the tabernacle. Christ is the temple. What a beautiful place in which to meet! This is a place full of life because it is inside of a living Person. There is an abundance of food here as well; living food. This is also the place of rest. God and man are completely satisfied and fulfilled in this Person who is the Sabbath. There is no need of light in this place because the glory of God fills this Person. All of the Father's hopes and dreams for His fellowship with man are fulfilled in His Son. Jesus said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I shall raise it up again." He was speaking of the temple of His body. He was transferring all thought of the physical temple as being the meeting Place of God and man to Himself. He is the real temple.
The Temple of the Holy Spirit
If we move farther along into the New Testament we will see the fullness of the expression of Christ as revealed by Paul. The church is Christ corporately expressed. The Spirit brought this revelation home to Paul. When he was knocked off his horse, the first thing the Lord said to him was, "Saul, why are you persecuting me?" What was this? Saul (Paul) had never even seen Jesus Christ in the flesh, let alone persecute Him. The Lord was referring to His Church. Because Paul was persecuting the Church, he was persecuting Christ. Right from the beginning, Paul received a revelation of Who the Church is. That's why later on he could emphatically declare to the Corinthians; "for even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ." (1 Corinthians 12:12)
The Church is Christ!
Now many of you might be theologically screaming blasphemy right now. But that's because you have a misplaced understanding of the Church. That's because you think the church is people, and you and I are not Christ. You are correct. You and I (people) are not Christ. But the Church is not people! The church is Christ in people! Christ in you (all), the hope of glory.
The Corporate Temple
Because we are in Christ, this means we are in the temple. Because Christ is in us, this means the temple is now corporately expressed. Now the meeting Place of God and man is practically expressed here on earth. Men can come into the temple and meet with God. They can come to a local gathering of believers and "see" the Lord. Of course, this presumes that the local gathering is under the direct headship of Jesus Christ and that He is the Center and Life of that group of believers.
All the beauty, provision, plentiful food, security, and rest of the garden can be found in this place. All the divinity (represented by the gold in the temple), and the glory of God can be found in this place. This is a place where man can come and say that he has found his home. This is the meeting Place of God and Man.