By Chris DiVietro
In the Old Testament, the Lord condescended to dwell among Israel at the temple. In the New Testament, the Lord also condescended to dwell among men, but in a drastically different form. John 1:14 reads, “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.” Or, as Eugene Peterson wrote in The Message, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” John 1 connects the Lord’s Old Testament presence in the temple with His New Testament presence in Jesus Christ by using a word, skayno’o, which is taken in Scripture to mean, “the dwelling of God among men,” or, the tabernacle.
In other words, while Isaiah’s prophecy of the nations streaming to the temple to worship God was certainly directed towards the future, the now-but-not-yet motif of the Kingdom of God allows for a reading that sees Isaiah’s’ vision partially fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Christopher Wright says,
The incarnation of God in Christ brings two new factors into our theology of mission: the inaugurated presence of the kingdom of God and the incarnational model and principle itself. In Jesus, the reign of God entered human history in a way not previously experienced – though the expectation of it and the ethical implications of it are thoroughly rooted in the Old Testament. The dynamic action of the kingdom of God in the words and deed of Jesus and the mission of his disciples changed lives, values, and priorities, and presented a radical challenge to the fallen structures of power in society.
The incarnation of God among man in the person of Jesus Christ carries extensive implications for the church and how it ministers, and we’ll unpack those implications in our next post.