God, Our Habitation
Moses, the writer of Psalm 90, declared in its first two verses the possibility of God becoming a dwelling place. He said, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
The term “dwelling place” is often used in the Old Testament to describe the tabernacle or the temple, God’s earthly abode. It also refers to the habitation of men (Ezekiel 6:6; Habakkuk 1:6). It literally is defined as “residence,” a place basically where one can be safe from the storms of life.
Moses probably made this statement during the 40 years Israel spent wandering in the desert after leaving Egypt under his leadership.
With this possibility, I dare say that Moses here gives God a special position in His relation to the people He had chosen and made His own, Israel. God fostered, nurtured, and protected these people on their journey to the land He had promised them. They were homeless when transitioning from a life of slavery in Egypt to one of freedom in a territory of their own in Palestine.
God is represented by Moses as a habitation for the children of Israel, a place where they could rest from the challenges of life. They had need for food, water, sanitary and medical remedies in the wilderness (Leviticus 11-15). They faced enmity from foreign nations such as the Amalekites, descendants of Esau, who attacked them at Rephidim (Exodus 17:8). They encountered many more difficulties. Yet they could find comfort in God’s care and mercy as well as in His presence.
God drawing so near to the Israelites must have impressed on Moses, the man of God as he is often referred to in the Old Testament and in the title of this psalm, to the point that he felt the people were at home in God. In declaring God a habitation, Moses appears to be expressing a personal appreciation for God’s loving kindness towards Israel.
But there is a deeper sense in which God becomes a dwelling place for His people in the New Testament. It’s a spiritual one. The Son of God becomes a habitation for our soul. This takes place when we get into the death of Christ by faith. The practical way to contacting the shed blood of Christ is baptism (Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27). The Christ-based relationship with God is, consequently, more than just God dwelling with us through His presence (Matthew 1:23, 2 Corinthians 6:16); it also men dwelling with God (John 15:4-7; 1 John 2:27-28).
In Christ, the baptized becomes the beneficiary of the blessings associated to His blood. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Only the blood of Christ provides man’s soul with what it needs. Paul proceeds from the third verse in Ephesians 1 to mention four of those blessings which, perhaps, are among the most important – these are redemption (or salvation), forgiveness of sins (v. 7), reconciliation and peace of mind in the church the body (or church) (Ephesians 2:16).
This is God’s plan of salvation for the soul whereby the sinner avoids the guilt and sorrows the mind suffers because of sin (Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 9:14) as well as the potential horrors of hell (Romans 6:23). Christ has in His death restored the plan God had for man at creation. God, then, created man’s spirit (Hebrews 12:9) in such a way that it could enjoy communion with Him eternally (cf. Genesis 1:26-27). When sin later entered the world the God-man relationship was severed (Isaiah 59:1-2). But because of Christ’s redemptive work, the Christian is now safe against the destruction sin brings. For this reason, dear reader, you need to become a Christian if you are not one yet.