What I hope to impress upon us all is that the presence of God is not about mere intuitions and platitudes. It is not a mystical feeling or emotional charge. It is first and foremost a theme of Scripture; and even more, it is a theme on which the story of Scripture hinges.
To demonstrate this, I want to make one major argument in this book that rests on two very simple but very significant biblical truths. The first truth is this: the presence God is a central goal in God’s redemptive mission. The second truth follows: the presence of God is the agent by which the Lord accomplishes his redemptive mission. God’s presence, then, is both eschatological (it is the end-of-time aim of the Lord’s mission) and instrumental (it is ultimately what fulfills the Lord’s mission). So to put our argument in its simplest terms, the presence of God is a fundamental objective in our redemption and simultaneously, the means by which God completes this objective.
That is a lot to take in, so to consider this further, let’s think first about the eschatological (the future goal-oriented) emphasis. The restoration of God’s presence-or we could say his relational nearness-once lost in the fall is one of the most pivotal acts in the story of redemption. As John shows us, the final hope of history is that “the dwelling place of God is with man” and that God “will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev. 21:3). Seen from a redemptive-historical standpoint, this text is essentially a summary of the eschatological purposes driving God’s mission of salvation.
This objective, though, is not only prevalent at the story’s end, but also woven throughout Scripture’s plotline. From the beginning, the goal of God’s presence affects the Creator-creature relationship. In Eden, God charges the first couple to expand the garden-sanctuary, the locus of God’s presence, both geographically and genealogically (Gen. 1:28-30). The temple of God’s presence found in the garden is meant to cover all of creation. From this perspective, we see that the Lord, in his divine wisdom, ties Adam’s role to the administration of his presence to the entire world.
However, as the familiar story goes, in his sin Adam breaks this bond in pursuit of arrogant self-idolatry. The much-deserved curses add up-each levied against the couple’s role in disseminating God’s presence throughout the cosmos. By God’s mercy, the story does not end here. God shines the light of his promises into the darkness of Adam’s sin. Where Adam has failed, God succeeds, for God pledges to complete his own purposes and spreads his own presence to the world.
Outside the garden, the eschatological purposes of God’s presence remain front and center in God’s redemptive story. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s covenant voice calls a people to relationship, a call that reverberates throughout the Scriptures until it crescendos in John’s prophetic vision (e.g., Gen. 9:1-15; 12:1-3; 15:6ff.; 17:19; Ex. 19:1ff.; 24:3-8; 2 Sam. 7:12-13; Jer. 31:31-34; Matt. 26:28; Luke 22:20; Heb. 8:6; Rev. 21-22). This covenant picks up where Adam left off, with God’s creating a people and place for the enjoyment of his presence. This divine purpose pervades every covenant ratified and culminates in the new covenant arrival of Christ, the new and better Adam, the one who accomplishes what Adam could not. These covenantal promises of God’s presence line the story of Scripture like mileposts pointing the way to the New Jerusalem, the city where God will dwell with his people forever. . .” pg. 23-25 “The Presence Of God” by J. Ryan Lister