When you pray to God, most of the time you look to the sky. God, as Creator of heaven and earth, seems to you to be distant, "Inhabiting" the sky. When you pray, you also often look at a picture or a cross hanging on the wall. It helps you in prayer. Is God really far from us ? Do we meet God only with these signs? ?
God's presence among his people and its signs
The invisible God wanted to live in friendship with man. At Sinai, he made a covenant with his people, the people of Israel. That the Israelites would know, that God is with them and takes care of them, God himself commanded Moses to make an ark and put the tablets with the commandments in it. Later, other mementoes of God's special care for the nation were also placed in the Ark. The ark with the tablets of commandments was to be for the chosen people a testimony and reminder of the covenant made with God and a sign of God's presence among them. That's why she was named ,,Ark of the Covenant ".
From then on, the Ark accompanied Israel throughout the entire journey through the desert to the Promised Land. It was carried by the priests (Lewici), and during the stops the Ark was placed in a special tent, which was called "the Tabernacle of the Lord".
The Israelites believed, that then, while the Ark is among them, God himself accompanies them and they cannot be in any danger. During battles with enemies, they often took the Ark with them. St.. he says, that God was showing His power and that the Israelites often won victories through the Ark of the Covenant. They made sure then, that God is really with them, and the Ark is a sign of His presence. King David permanently placed the Lord's Tabernacle along with the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem. His son, about Solomon, then he built a magnificent temple of wood and stone. There was a "most holy" place separated by a curtain in the temple, or ,,holy saints ". This is where the Ark of the Covenant was placed.
Jerusalem Temple, in which the Ark of the Covenant was located, it was therefore a new sign of God's presence in the chosen people for the Israelites. The Israelites thought, that the Ark itself and the temple would protect them from misfortunes. In their lives, however, they were not always faithful to God and often broke the covenant with him.
Through the prophets, God often exhorted them to improve. When the Israelites disobeyed, he allowed it to happen, that the chosen people had lost the signs of His presence : the temple and the ark of the covenant, and the nation lost its freedom.
Then the temple was destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant was lost. God, however, did not abandon his people. While the Israelites were in captivity, he sent prophets to them, he was encouraged and encouraged to improve. He also promised, that they will return to their homeland again. After many years of captivity, the prophets came true. St.. that's how he describes it :
"That the word of God from the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, the Persian king, in the first year (his reign), so that he also made known in writing throughout his country, what follows :
«This is what Cyrus says, Persian king: All the nations of the earth gave me the God of heaven. And He commanded me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, in Judah. If there is anyone else among you of all his people, then may his God be with him ; let him go ! »” (2 Krn 36, 22-23 ; Refreshment Sunday, year B, read. I). So you see, that although the Israelites lost the signs of God's presence, The ark and the temple, but God did not abandon them. He was still with them and looked after his people. So God did not limit His presence to mere signs. They were only to remind the Israelites, that God is with them.
After their return from captivity in Babylon, the Israelites rebuilt the temple. The Ark of the Covenant was no longer in it, and the Holy of Holies remained empty. God then instructed through the prophets, that his house and dwelling is all the chosen people.
God present in the people of the New Covenant
In the person of Jesus Christ, God made his fullest dwelling place among his people. That is why the prophet Isaiah calls the future Messiah "Emmanuel", it means "God with us". Jesus Christ formed the new People of God, Church. In it he remained forever. Although we do not see God today, but he is in our midst in a way, who instituted Jesus Christ in the holy sacraments. They not only remind us, that God is with us, but Jesus Christ, Son of God, who became man, he is present in them and acts for the salvation of his people. And the whole Holy Church, as the people of the New Covenant, it is a sign of God's presence in the world. God's presence in the Church turns out to be fullest then, when the faithful gather for the Eucharistic banquet, they listen to the word of God, they pray together and united with Jesus Christ they worship God.
Apart from these signs, through which God works, there are other signs, what the people themselves do, to remember God's presence. These are : churches, crosses, images, figury, wayside shrines and others. Signs of you, so often found in Poland, remind us, that God is with us, because we are his people, and He is our God.
How will I answer God ?
Now I know, that God is close to me. He is with his people. He is among his people especially then, when the people gathered at the Eucharistic banquet praise him by offering the Holy Sacrifice. We remember the presence of God among us when we listen to the reading of the Holy Scriptures. on the fourth Sunday of Lent.
I will express my faith in the presence of God among us in words of prayer (songs) :
“God is alone with his people : holy Savior Lord.
God transforms wine into his blood, that he could quench the thirst of hearts with it.
God is alone with his people : holy Savior Lord ".
1. Jakie znaki swej obecności dał Bóg narodowi wybranemu Starego Przymierza ?
2. Dlaczego Bóg dopuścił, that the Israelites lost the Ark of the Covenant ?
3. Jak prorok Izajasz nazywa Mesjasza ?
4. Jakie znaki swej zbawczej obecności dał Chrystus ludowi Nowego Przymierza ?
5. Dla kogo Kościół jest znakiem przebywania Boga ze swoim ludem ?
■ Remember :
50. Czym były dla Izraelitów Arka Przymierza i świątynia ?
The Ark of the Covenant and the Temple were for the Israelites signs of God's special presence in the chosen people.
51. W jaki sposób przebywa dziś Bóg ze swoim ludem ?
God is with his people today in the person of Jesus Christ.
■ Task :
Consider, what is the difference between the sacraments and other signs that remind us of God's presence.
■ Compare :
Word of god : "Don't you know, that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you ?… God's temple is holy, and you are her " (1 Disease 3, 16.17b).
The teaching of the Church : …Christ is always present in his Church, especially in liturgical celebrations. He is present at the Sacrifice of the Mass… especially under the Eucharistic species. He is present by His strength in the sacraments… He is present in his word… He is finally here, when the Church prays and sings psalms…” (KL 7).