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Jesus is our tent of meeting.
G. Campbell Morgan on the wonder of the Word become flesh.
In Dane Ortlund’s Surprised by Jesus, he comments that, in Christ, “the supernatural collided with the natural in a physical body” (157). Such is how he explains the magnitude of the incarnation event. That the nativity of Jesus is so often read, we might often grow unaccustomed to being stupefied by it all. But, as Ortlund maintains, the significance of the Christ of God in a cradle extends back to the furthest eons of Israelite lore. In the incarnation, you see, humanity was brought into proximity “with God in his glory. We no longer enter into a temple of wood and stone to meet with God. God has entered into a temple of flesh and blood to meet with us” (157). Such thoughts capture the heart of the incarnation, a truth of faith which cannot too often be expounded and exulted.
Renowned pastor and orator G. Campbell Morgan expresses the wonder of the Word becoming flesh (John 1:14) in similar fashion. In this striking image which Morgan paints, we are escorted closer to the person and place where we find our “tent of meeting with God.” He writes:
This Person Who defies definition . . . “tabernacled among us,” and John of the mystic vision had looked at Him, and warm-hearted Peter had gazed upon Him, and all the rest had seen Him. He “tabernacled among us” . . . He pitched His tent by us, and came to live where we lived. He pitched His tent down by the side of my tent. It is the figure of the Arab nation, and of one who is going to take the same journey with me and be under the same rule with me. He “tabernacled among us.” We are pilgrims through the world, coming out of darkness, and passing toward the darkness. He “tabernacled among us,” put His tent down by the side of our tent . . .
You remember how in the Old Testament that word “Tabernacle” is written descriptively in two ways. Sometimes it is called the Tabernacle of witness, and sometimes it is called the Tabernacle of the congregation, and both are faulty. May I take the same ideas, and express them in other words? The Tent of meeting rather than the Tabernacle of the congregation. The Tent of testimony, rather than the Tabernacle of witness. That is to say, when in your Old Testament you read that the Tabernacle was the Tabernacle of the congregation, it does not mean that it was the place where men congregated for worship, but that it was the place where God and man met for fellowship. The Tabernacle of meeting was the place, God-appointed, where He met with man, and to which man came to meet with Him.
It was the Tent of testimony, which did not mean that it was the place where men proclaimed the truth of God. The Tent of testimony was the place where God spoke to men, and men listened. Now, wrote John, who had been brought up in that religion, and to whom that symbolism was always luminous, the Word pitched His tent among us. That was the Tabernacle for which we had been waiting, toward which we had been looking. He became at once Tent of meeting between God and man, and Tent of testimony through which God spoke to man. And so in this Word, the infinite and in comprehensive mystery of the eternities, Who became finite and comprehensive in time, by become flesh, I find my tent of meeting with God.
He is all I am, but He is all God is. And when I lay this hand of mine upon His hand, I have touched the hand of a man such as I am; but I have taken hold of the might of God. And when I look into the eyes of the Man who pitched His tent among Galilean fishermen I have looked into human eyes all priming with love, but through them I have looked out into the very heart of the Infinite God. He is the Tent of meeting. I find God in Christ, as nowhere else. (2:236–38)
Jesus is our tent of meeting. He’s where we meet God. In this place, we’re greeted with the unmistakable revelation of the heart of God, a heart that is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod. 34:6; cf. Num. 14:18; 2 Chron. 30:9; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4; 116:5; 145:8; Joel 2:13). The collision of heaven and earth in the person of Jesus brings us into contact with the divine. Such is wonder of the Word which took on flesh for us.
Grace and peace.
G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit: The Preaching of G. Campbell Morgan, Vols. 1–10 (Fincastle, VA: Scripture Truth Book Co., 1954).
Dane Ortlund, Surprised by Jesus: Subversive Grace in the Four Gospels (Leyland, England: Evangelical Press, 2021).