I’m still reading part of a psalm and a few verses of John’s Gospel each day.
Today was Psalm 132, with the idea of ‘A resting place, or dwelling for God’
In the psalm, king David makes a vow to ‘find a dwelling for the Lord’
Part of this was to do with the Ark of the Covenant – the chest that contained the Ten Commandments. It signified God’s presence with his people.
The Ark of the Covenant had been stolen by the Philistines in battle, but then returned to Israel. It ended up at a place called Kiriath-Jearim, where it was forgotten for 20 years. Then we read in the First book of Chronicles chapter 13 how David brings the Ark back to Jerusalem. In the psalm this event is recalled in these words:
“Arise, Lord, and come to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.” Psalm 132 verse 8
In the Old Testament, places are really important. The Ark and the Temple are both material signs of God’s presence with his people. Psalm 132 is part of a collection of psalms that would be sung as people made their way to Jerusalem for festivals. They would sing as they made their journey to meet with God in the holy city. We see the same idea through history in the importance of pilgrimage to holy sites in different religions. Mecca, The River Granges, Rome etc.
Set alongside that is my other reading from John Chapter 14 verse 23
‘Jesus said “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”‘
What Jesus brings to Israel is a new and very challenging insight. God does not reside in buildings and shrines, but in people. Jesus may have taught in the temple, but most of what we read in the Gospels seems to show Jesus meeting people where they are, in their everyday lives. And that is the promise to us today. God is with us. Not through special places, (although they may have their ‘place’) and not through priests as intermediaries, but directly as we open ourselves to God’s presence with us and in us – this promise is not restricted, but is for anyone, at anytime, in any place.
In the end, our destination, our home, is to be with God.
And at the same time, God’s destination, God’s home, is to be with us.
Grace and peace.