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benchreading manGod has always wanted to be close to us. It was mankind who chose to separate from Him, through disobedience in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3). But from that moment, God worked on a plan to restore us to perfect relationship with Him! He spent the rest of the Old Testament bringing that plan to pass.

His amazing plan was to give the most precious thing He had – His only begotten Son – to be our sin substitute.

So as we read the Bible we see that, in spite of our choice to sin, the heart of our Father never stopped crying out for His sons and daughters.

God grieved over mankind for 4000 years. From the moment Adam and Eve sinned, He began looking forward to the day when He could redeem us and that lost fellowship and communion could be restored – through the cross.

Isaiah 48:16-18 says,

“Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me.” Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go. Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea."

God cried out to His people to follow Him and obey Him, because He wanted so much to bless them! He never stopped taking care of mankind, even when they didn’t listen to Him.

Isaiah 65:2 says,

"I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts…"

He was reaching out to them, but they couldn’t respond because of their sinful nature. Light has no fellowship with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14). Their spiritual condition denied them access to fellowship with Almighty God. He still loved them, still wanted to help them and guide them and be their all in all.

But He couldn’t reach them. For the most part, they didn’t understand or even know He was there. It was heartbreaking.

Behind the Veil

During those 4000 years of separation from mankind, the presence of God on earth lived in a box called the Ark of the Covenant. He had to separate Himself because we humans, in our sinful condition, could no longer meet face to face with Him.

The Ark was housed in the tabernacle or the temple, in the center of Jewish life. God still wanted to be in the center of His people’s lives, but He had to stay removed from them, dwelling behind a curtain in the Holy of Holies. From this place He extended mercy to His people when blood was sprinkled once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:15-33).

This curtain (or veil) signified that man was separated from God by sin (Is. 59:1-2). Only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year on the Day of Atonement (Ex. 30:10; Heb. 9:7) to enter into God's presence for all of Israel and make atonement for their sins.

It’s important to note that the separation was because of mankind’s sin. It was never God’s choice. We bore the shame and the bondage of our sin. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t do right, we couldn’t cleanse ourselves from our sin nature.

But our Heavenly Father was looking forward to the time when One would come to redeem us. He had a plan all along!

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God (Ez. 36:25-28).

Think about being separated from your loved ones for 4,000 years. That’s the picture of God throughout the Old Testament. He longed for the restoration of the fellowship He used to have with His creation. That’s why He made a plan to redeem us. And what a wonderful plan it turned out to be!

Copyright © Karen Jensen Salisbury
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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The online ministry of cfaith has been helping people discover faith, friends and freedom in the Word since 2000. Cfaith provides a unique and comprehensive collection of faith-building resources for the worldwide faith community.

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