We are very familiar with the story of Adam and Eve and their decision to disregard the word of God and the consequences of their choice: separation from God. They had it made in Eden but now had to labor to live outside of God's protective provision. They felt exposed by their sin and isolated from God.
Some say that God remained distant from us until Jesus, but when we look more closely at scripture, we see that it has always been the heart of God to be with His people. And He often comes close to those who love Him and put their trust in Him.
In Exodus 29, we read about God giving the freed Israelites instructions on how to establish the Tabernacle. Phrases like 'I will meet with you' and 'I will dwell among them' show up repeatedly in this story! The Father wants to dwell among His people, and we see evidence of this all through the Biblical narrative.
God with us...
...in the Garden (Genesis 2). The Father was walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden.
...in the Covenant (Genesis 15). God made a covenant -- a promise -- with Abraham because of his trust in God. God made for Himself a special people to bless.
...in the Exodus. God delivered them to dwell with them! This was always His original intention.
...in the Promise (Isaiah 7:14). The prophet Isaiah wrote about God's intentions to be with us: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel."
Fast forward to the New Testament. God with us...
...in Jesus (Matthew 1:22-23). He was called 'God with us'.
...in Christian Community (Matthew 18:20). Jesus is among us when we gather in Jesus' name.
...in Communion when we break bread together.
...in the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 30:21). He is the believer's constant companion, filling our lives with His presence.
...in Eternity (Revelation 21:3). "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them."
Do you see it? From Genesis to Revelation, God is with us! And He is with us now.
The presence of God is personal, real and life-changing because the living God lives in His people and walks with us. His presence has made all the difference in my life. God has been with me in my childhood when I felt Him close. God has been with me in my deserts when I felt alone. God has been with me when I was cut off by my sin (because He made the Way through Jesus). God has been with me in my spirit when I've called on the name of Jesus and the darkness was dispelled. God has been with me in my Christian community when I've experienced the grace of God through His people. In my home, in my family, in my baptism...
God is with us.