One challenge we face is to get God out of the “box,” by which we mean our preconceived restrictions concerning what He can and can’t do. However, the idea of “God in a box” did not originate with us, but with God Himself!
How could a king woo and win a peasant girl’s heart? If he showed up in his limousine, accompanied by his body guards and told the woman that he wanted her for his wife. She would go. After all, he is the king, and what the king wants, the king gets.
Would she love him? Ah, there’s the dilemma. How would the king ever know she was with him by choice, not by obligation?
If, instead, he dressed the part of a peasant, he could let her get to know him. He could court her without any reticence on her part. By the time she knew he was a king, he would be certain of her love for him. They could live “happily ever after.” It would take humility on his part, and patience as well. The result, if he was successful, would be well worth the effort.
We have a God who took this approach.
Israel’s time to leave Egypt had come, but by then the relationship between God and man had become strained. There were so many gods, malevolent in nature. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob seemed no different.
At Sinai, God, the King of kings, called the people near. He was loud; all lightning flashes and thunder. Fire and smoke covered the top of the mountain. Understandably, the people stood afar off and told Moses, “Yyyooou ggo speak to Him. Wwee’ll wwwait here!” (Exodus 20:19)
On the mountain, God told Moses, in essence, “I love every one of you. I want to be with you. If they won’t come to me, then built me a tent – I’ll camp with you.” He humbled Himself, desiring to be more approachable. He “tamed” Himself…put Himself in a “box.”
Work commenced, and soon God was happily situated in their midst. All were invited to drop by for a visit (Exodus 33:7). Instead, whenever Moses went to the tabernacle, the people stood at their tents’ door and watched.
For forty years God led them round and round in the wilderness. He stayed with them, no matter how they treated Him.
In time, the Israelites were situated in the land God promised them. Because they were no longer wandering, a permanent “box” was built for Him – the temple. There He lived for hundreds of years.
This wasn’t close enough for the King, though, so one day He moved into a much smaller “tent” – a human tent. They called Him “Jesus.” It was a perfect disguise. Many loved Him, talked to Him, and touched Him. He was free to interact with them – almost like in the Garden of Eden.
Then came the day of the great unveiling. In John 14:9, Jesus tells His followers, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Tada!
And yet, being close to us in this way had its restrictions. He could only be in one place at a time. It was not quite satisfactory. Jesus left His earthly tent behind…
…and sent His Spirit…
…to live in our tents with us! (1 Corinthians 6:19)
I will dwell in them
And walk among them
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
(2 Corinthians 6:16)
And they shall call His name Immanuel,
Which is translated
God with us.
God created us because He loves us. Love cannot be forced, though. How patiently and humbly He pursues us, His heart on His sleeve. He longs for us to know Him intimately, and to love Him deeply.