The Word Dwelt–Like a Tabernacle

The Word Dwelt–Like a Tabernacle

When the Old Testament Israelites traveled with the tabernacle, and when they camped around it, they could rightly say, “God is with us.” But the tabernacle was a shadow, a type, of something greater—Someone greater. Jesus is the true and greater tabernacle who came to dwell among sinners. He is Immanuel, God with us.

The opening of John’s Gospel contains some of the most epic words that have ever been written. The language in John 1:1–14 is beautiful and profound, and the main subject—the Word—concerns the one for whom and by whom all things were made.

In John 1:1–14, we learn that the Word always was, that the Word was before everything else, and that the Word came into the world like light—divine light. God’s speaking was at the same time a shining, and this light was revelation, the revelation of the incarnate Word.

When John tells us about what we call the incarnation, he says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

That whole verse is dense with wonderful things, but I only want to focus on one of them. The Word dwelt among us. Let’s think about that.

The verb dwelt is ἐσκήνωσεν, which is from the verb σκηνόω, and it means to dwell or encamp. This is why the Greek translation of the Old Testament uses the word σκηνη for tent or tabernacle. In the Old Testament, the presence of the tabernacle signaled the presence of Yahweh drawing near to the Israelites in their camp.

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