From the day that Adam and Eve rebelled and were driven out of the Garden of Eden (Gen. Gen. 3:24) until the eternal state when God and the Lamb will once again dwell in the midst of men (Rev. Rev. 21:3+, Rev. 21:22+), mankind has been unable to approach God face to face in complete intimacy and fellowship.1 For God is an all-consuming fire in the presence of sin (Deu. Deu. 4:24; Deu. 5:25; Isa. Isa. 6:5; Isa. 33:14; Heb. Heb. 12:29). Until sin is no more, God has chosen to provide a means by which the original relationship between man and Godunmarred by sincan be approximated. This is the primary purpose of the Temple. It is the meeting place between God and man, the place where Gods presence dwells in the midst of men.2 One way to understand the saga of the Temple within Biblical history is to consider the childrens game of hide and seek . One child closes their eyes and counts from one to ten. The other children run away to hide while they can. When the first child reaches ten, he uncovers his eyes and searches for the hidden children, not knowing where they may be found. In our analogy God is the seeker and mankind runs away to hide. This game was first played in history when Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden (Gen. Gen. 3:8). After the introduction of sin into the human race, history has played itself out as a protracted session of hide and seek, but it is anything but a game! Although there may be numerous motives for why Adam and Eve hid from God, Scripture reveals the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings (Gen. Gen. 3:7). Although they had previously been naked and unashamed (Gen. Gen. 2:25), now they were ashamed. Their shame prompted an attempt to cover themselves. Clearly, they realized the need to protect or shield themselves. But from what or from whom? It would appear that they realized that with their fall into sin a huge gap stood between their own condition and that of a Holy Creator with searching eyes of piercing omniscience (see commentary on Revelation 1:14). An early object lesson concerning sin came when God indicated that their attempt to cover themselves with fig leaves was insufficient. Instead, animals were slain to provide a God-given covering for their sin (Gen. Gen. 3:21). This established the Biblical requirement that remission of sin requires the shedding of blood (see commentary on Revelation 1:5 ). Another, more severe object lesson followed. With the introduction of sin, man could no longer remain in Gods presenceAdam and Eve were expelled from the Garden (Gen. Gen. 3:24).3 Thereafter, we find that man must approach God through a new means requiring blood sacrifice (Gen. Gen. 4:3-7). There would be no more strolling with God, naked and unashamed. This pattern of man rejecting God only to have God seek after him to reestablish relationship is a theme of Biblical History. It is the prime motivation behind the Great Commission of the Church to reach all nations (Mtt. Mat. 28:19-20; Mark Mark 16:15-17; Luke Luke 24:47; Acts Acts 1:8). It recognizes the inability of unregenerate flesh to truly please or seek God (Rom. Rom. 3:10-18 cf. Ps. Ps. 5:9; Ps. 10:7; Ps. 14:1-3; Ps. 36:1; Ps. 53:1-3; Ps. 140:3 Pr. Pr. 1:16; Isa. Isa. 59:7-8) and that only by Gods initiative can any be restored to fellowship with Him (John John 1:12-13; John 6:44). When studying the Temple, Gods meeting place with man, we must always remember this human tendency. Even though millions now no longer know Him, let us not forget that twice in the history of mankind every person alive knew God (Adam and Eve and their family; Noah and his family after the flood). That which their forefathers once knew was actively rejected leaving the offspring without knowledge of God.
1 Gen. Gen. 32:30, Gen. 33:10; Ex. Ex. 3:6; Ex. 19:21; Ex. 33:11; Num. Num. 12:8; Deu. Deu. 5:4; Deu. 34:10; Jdg. Jdg. 13:22; 1S. 1S. 6:19; 1K. 1K. 19:13; Ps. Ps. 17:15; Isa. Isa. 6:5; John John 1:18; 1Cor. 1Cor. 13:2; 1Jn. 1Jn. 3:2; 1Jn. 4:12; Rev. Rev. 22:4+.
2 See The Abiding Presence of God.
3 Although the initial motive for the expulsion was to prevent their partaking from the tree of life, it soon becomes apparent that fellowship with God apart from sacrificial offering is no longer possible (Gen. Gen. 4:7).