Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. – Zechariah 1:3
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:1-4
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” – Genesis 3:8-10
I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. – Exodus 6:7
I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. - Leviticus 26:12
Zechariah issues the call for God’s people to return to Him. The call comes with a promise. He does not say “return to me or else….” While there are clearly consequences for remaining separated from God, this is rarely the primary focus of the message of God to His people. His call always includes a promise.
…that you also may be where I am
Often, when we hear these words of Jesus, our focus is on the rooms in the Father’s house and the place that He is going to prepare for us. However, a focus on Heaven that misses this phrase might miss the most important thing about Heaven. The best thing about Heaven will be that we are with Him! In fact, it is in this phrase that we see a glimpse into the plan that God had for us from the beginning. Often, we focus on heaven and salvation as if God’s plan was always for us to get to heaven. God’s original plan was that we might walk with Him. Every moment that God has broken into history since “the fall” has been focused on restoring His original plan for His people. From beginning to end, the scripture are about God’s plan to walk with His people, that we might be with Him.
Where are you?
In the first few chapters of Genesis, we find the creation story. This incredible story is followed by the story of destruction that is described by man’s fall into sin. Immediately following the fall, we find this brief scene where God is walking in the garden in the cool of the day. This scene shows us both the consequences of the fall and the state of things before the fall. Adam and Eve hear God walking in the garden! This does not seem to be surprising to them. It was normal for God to walk with His people. What was unusual about this scene is that Adam recognized his nakedness and hid. Here, we find God calling to him. Where are you? Why are you hiding? Who told you that you are naked? Sin in the world has caused us to hide and to flee from God. Still today, God’s presence leads people to feel exposed and to walk out of churches or avoid spiritual conversations. Yet, still today, God calls out to us. Only he no longer asks where we are. Rather, he calls out to us “Return to me and I will return to you!”
I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God…I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
The call of God to the Israelites after He led them out of Egypt was a call back to relationship. Even in Exodus and Leviticus, God spoke to His people about a situation where He would be our God and we would be His people and He would walk with us! The promises of blessing found in Leviticus 26 are incredible…Provision, protection, and a God who would walk with us! What more could we ask. And if we do not stay faithful? There are certainly consequences, but the scripture tells us that these are intended that we would listen when we had not listened before. His purpose is always to draw us back to Himself. The God of all creation wants to walk with us.
The next few weeks will be a description of God’s work in our lives. Our culture has oversimplified the salvation message of God to prayer of salvation and a trip to heaven. He wants so much more for us than that. He wants to walk with us! That has always been His plan for us. If we go to heaven, then the purpose is not to live in luxury and walk the streets of gold. The purpose is that we might be with Him where He is!
Join us as we continue to study God’s plan of salvation for our lives!