Intimacy 1/3: God desires intimacy with you
Bijgewerkt: 25 nov 2019
Today I want to take you on a journey through Scripture to show you that God desires intimacy with you. We start in Genesis and end in Revelation. We will look at God’s intention to have intimacy with us, human beings. We will discover how intimacy was broken, how it was restored and how it will be completed.
Our journey begins with the way humans were created. This in itself is a very intimate process, very different from the creation of any other living creature.
Genesis 2:7 (NLT)
Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.
This creation process shows that God has created human beings for a very special purpose. We literally receive the breath of life from God – and we still do. We come alive in the presence of God. We are only truly alive when we are connected to the God who gave us life.
In Genesis 3 we get this picture of how God met with them in the garden. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. (Gen 3:8a)
The first chapters of Genesis give us a picture of an intimate relationship between God and humans. God probably met with them daily to take a walk through His beautiful creation. He didn’t create them, dropped them in Eden and said: “good luck!” He created them for relationship.
God created you and me to have relationship with Him.
Sin completely messed this up though. Just before God was about to have His daily stroll with Adam & Eve, the serpent deceived them to disobey what God had said and eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They had lost their innocence, because they only knew good, but now they knew evil as well. Sin destroyed the intimate relationship they had with God. And so, the verse goes on to say: So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. (Gen 3:8b)
The first effect that the Bible describes of human sin is that their intimate relationship with God is broken. They hide from God. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9) This is not the “where are you” from an angry teacher trying to find out who threw the paper plane at him, but of a father who has lost his child in the mall. “Where are you?!?!”
Where are you is God’s heart cry that will run through the rest of the Old Testament. “Where are you? Come back to me?” God would not settle for this state of broken relationship. From this point onwards, He would go on a long journey with people to see relationship being restored.
A chosen people
Scripture continues to describe the story of God restoring relationship with all human beings, starting with choosing a people to dedicate to Himself.It begins when He calls Abraham to follow Him. Abraham would be called the “friend of God” and there is an ongoing relationship between him and God throughout his life. He receives promises from God that he would be the father of a people chosen by God to be a blessing to all nations. This would be a people that would know God at a more intimate level. God would reveal Himself to them and bless them.
This plan starts to unfold when the people of Israel are living in captivity in Egypt and God decides to rescue them under the leadership of Moses. Let’s read about how Moses was called.
One day, God appears to Moses while he is tending sheep near the mountain Sinai in a burning bush. Moses is curious why the bush is burning but not burning up. When he gets close to the bush God says:
Exodus 3:5-6 (NLT)
“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
God’s salvation plan for His people starts with a personal encounter. And these verses show how sin affected the intimate relationship humans are supposed to have with God. Firstly, their unholiness doesn’t permit them to enter into God’s holy presence – it’s dangerous! Secondly, humans still are afraid of God. Moses hides from God, just like Adam & Eve did.
The nature of the relationship between God and Moses would continue to develop though. Later, when Moses leads the people out of Egypt and arrives at Sinai again, there is this encounter with God where Moses doesn’t hide his face anymore. When he comes down from the mountain, his face is radiant, so much so that the people can’t stand to look at Moses. So, in these times, relationship between God and people is possible, but intimacy is limited to only a few.
God longed to dwell with His people, and He had chosen the people of Israel with the words: I will be your God, you will be my people. God instructed Moses to build the Tabernacle (the word ‘tabernacle’ means ‘to dwell’), as the place where He would dwell. It was a big tent, set in the middle of the camp of the Israelites. Priests would bring sacrifices there and worship God.
The book of Exodus ends with its inauguration of the Tabernacle.
Exodus 40:34-38 (NLT)
Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.
Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.
The Tabernacle, which later would be turned into the Temple, symbolizes that God was present among His people. It was the central place of worship. It also shows that there were still many limitations for intimacy with God.
There are chapters full of instructions for the way God needed to be worshiped – with sacrifices and cleansing, what the priests had to wear, in what order everything needed to happen, etc. It was complicated and limited to a small group of people. There was still so much in the way for true intimacy between God and people.
This is most clearly illustrated by the place in the Tabernacle called the Most Holy Place. This was the place where God’s presence was the strongest and where you would come face-to-face with God. Only once a year the high priest could enter in to atone for the sins of the people. He would do so with a rope around his waist so that the other priests could drag him out, in case he would fall dead in the presence of God. Between the Holy Place and this Most Holy Place was a thick curtain called the ‘veil’, symbolizing the separation between God and humans.
The relationship was still broken – but God was working out a plan for restoration.
The torn curtain
When Jesus died on the cross, He atoned for the sins of human beings once and for all. He paid the rightful price for our sins, so that our relationship with God could be fully restored. Mark’s account of the crucifixion says: "With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom". (Mark 15:37-38)
The moment Jesus completed to pay the ransom for our sins, all barriers to intimacy with God were broken. God Himself tore the thick curtain separating Him from humans. Finally, He could be with the people He so loved again. The ground shook as He stepped out of the Temple and danced through the streets of Jerusalem.
The moment Jesus completed to pay the ransom for our sins, all barriers to intimacy with God were broken.
Jesus' death removed every obstacle. By faith in Him we are declared righteous and holy – so that we can enter into the presence of a holy God. The presence of God is no longer something we fear, but something we crave.
Hebrews 10:19-22 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Let me close off with three points to help you to pursue intimacy with God.
1) Come closer
I absolutely love how this passage tells us to boldly enter the presence of God. Where access used to be limited and complicated – the doors are now wide open and Jesus put a big neon sign over the doors of the Temple saying “come in – come closer!”
Somehow, we still feel this hesitation to enter into the presence of God. We feel like there are still things in the way for us to enter in. But this passage says that our guilty consciences HAVE BEEN sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean. Every obstacle has already been removed.
Yes, sin in your life will form hindrances to pursue all that God has for you, but you will never be cut off from His presence because of what Jesus has done for you. We enter in through Jesus – not through our own efforts.
God is welcoming you into His presence with open arms.
What I hope you’ll take away from this message is that it is God who eagerly desires to have relationship with you. He has pursued you. Jesus gave His life so that you could be reconciled with God. He took the initiative. He tore the veil!
God does not just permit you to come in to His presence, He is welcoming you in with open arms. Are you desiring an intimate relationship with Him as well? Do you long to get closer to Him?
2) Come daily
As with any relationship, our relationship with God needs time and focus. Entering into His presence doesn’t always mean an overwhelming feeling of love – although it certainly can at times. If we neglect our relationship with God long enough, it will decay.
I remember a couple of years ago, I was cycling from one appointment to another. It was gonna be 40 minutes or so, and so I decided to put on a sermon. I wanted to cycle fast, and kept the speed on the Strava app. One minute into listening to the message, I discovered I couldn’t put up the volume. I found out later the earphones weren’t plugged in completely, but only half.
Don’t go through life at such a pace that you neglect your personal relationship with God.
What I should have done was stop, plug it in, and continue being able to listen to the sermon. But what I did was just continue cycling only being able to pick up little bits of the message I was playing.
I realized that so often, this is how I treat my relationship with God – I’m only half plugged in – irregularly making little time with only half my focus. I sensed the Holy Spirit saying – I’ve got so much more to tell you, why don’t you just stop for a minute and plug in?
Don’t go through life at such a pace that you neglect your personal relationship with God. It is far more important than anything else in this world. If you want to be a better spouse, parent, employee, student, neighbor, friend or colleague – firstly get connected to the God who gave you life and desires an intimate relationship with you.
The status of your intimacy with God, determines your impact in life.
3) Taste of the Kingdom to come
I promised we would start in Genesis and end in Revelation. And so we will.
Revelation 21:1-4 (NLT)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
The complete restoration of God’s intimate relationship with human beings will be when history comes to a climax and God will make all things new. Heaven will literally come down to earth, and God will dwell with His people.
Whenever God's presence fills the room, His future reality breaks into our current reality.
This is a future event – the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God. But as I’ve said before – we now live as citizens of that New Jerusalem, while having both our feet on a planet waiting to be restored by God.
Whenever we enter into the presence of God, or whenever His presence fills the room, God’s future reality breaks into our current reality. In His presence there is comfort, new life, restoration, healing, courage to carry on and words of empowerment. God is inviting you to come closer, to come daily and to taste of the Kingdom to come.