What a sublime conception! – God dwelt with His people. The Tabernacle was His tent amongst theirs; the cloudy pillar was His ensign. To attack them was to come into collision with Him. All the expense and anxiety of the march rested on His shoulders, as the care of a family of young children on a father. How needful it was that nothing should be permitted which could grieve or offend Him!
What the camp of Israel was in those long-ago days, the Church is now. It is the host of the redeemed, the representative of God, the pilgrimage of the saints. Amongst His people God still walks, and dwells, and tabernacles. Their griefs, conflicts, and experiences, are shared by their ever-present Almighty Friend.
The presence of God in the Church is by the Holy Spirit. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1Co 3:16). He is with her and in her as the Body of which the risen Lord is Head. When the one Advocate went up, the other came down; when the Second Person in the Holy Trinity ascended to His throne, the Third Person came down to perpetuate His work in the world, through the Church. “He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
How careful should we be in the ordering of our church-life, as well as of our individual lives, so that there may be nothing to offend Him! “What will the Holy Spirit think of this?” should be always our first inquiry. We must walk in the paracletism of the Holy Ghost, if we would be edified and multiplied, as were the churches throughout Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria (Act 9:31).