Eastside Baptist Church
- Created to Draw Near: Our Life as God’s Royal Priests by Edward T. WelchIntroduction: Longing for ClosenessThe human condition is bent toward connection and closeness.Human to Human RelationshipsHuman to Divine RelationshipAll this carries the stamp of our spiritual lineage: we are priests. God’s intent for humanity has been that we would live in his house and receive his divine hospitality. That is the mission of the priests—priests are near God.In his royal residence, which he declares is also our own, we are known, unashamed, at peace with each other, dressed in garments he himself tailored, ushered into a feast, and joined to him in communion that leaves us searching for words to describe.Scripture must shape our understanding of priesthood and God’s design for it.Part 1: Our PastEdenChapter 1: In the Garden of GodTabernacle and Temple: God’s House on Earth“The Tabernacle” before the TabernacleTimes when God came near1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.Spirit Hovering over the Waters (Gen. 1:2)Apparently, heaven was never meant to contain the triune God. The movement between heaven and earth was always intended to be fluid. What follows is the story of that movement between heaven and earth—God coming from his abode into our own, and we being brought into his. Here you will find priests. It is an intensely personal story of mutual engagement.8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.EdenThis was the Garden of God, the place where heaven and earth met. This was the “holy mountain of God.” This was God’s house.Eden was the first tabernacle, and humanity’s home was in the presence of God, in his Most Holy Place.Wherever God is, there is the tent of his dwelling.Garden - a protected, sacred area within EdenThe holy place (Eden) was near him; the Most Holy Place (the garden) was nearer.The rivers of Eden signify God as the source of life.Humanity had a mission in the garden-”to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15). Similar language is used of the priests in the tabernacle (Num. 1:53; 3:36).The tree of life was the symbol of the life we have in God’s presence. The tree of life is represented by the flowering lampstand in Israel’s tabernacle, merging the images of light and life (Ex. 25:31-34).From the beginning, our everyday existence was intended to be lived out in the temple precincts. Our heritage is the royal priesthood. And since God’s purposes for us have never changed, you are a royal priest. You have a rich job description, and his Spirit is with you. God’s fellowship and hospitality have begun in earnest.God desires that we be close.12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.Communion. Closeness. Heaven comes to earth, and our home is at the intersection of the two. This has been God’s plan for humanity, and he has done it.
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