God has always been on a relentless pursuit to be as near us.
His presence among the children of Israel on their exodus out of Egypt was first the pillar of cloud and fire ( Exodus 13:21) and then He appeared to them on Mt Sinai in fire and smoke ( Exodus 19:18). To that point God was present with His people, but somewhat distant, ahead of them in the pillar of cloud and fire, and above them on Mt Sinai, with a boundary around it they were not to cross ( Exodus Ch. 19:12).
In Exodus chapter 25 God disclosed His plan to draw nearer to His people. He said:
8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
God’s desire has always to be near us, to restore the intimate connection He had with man at the beginning of creation, before sin distanced us from God as described in Genesis 3:8.
When God drew nearer to His people by dwelling among them in a sanctuary, access to God was limited. Speaking of the mercy seat in the tabernacle which was the sanctuary they were to make, it says in verse 22 of Exodus Ch.25:
22 And there I will meet with you…
…referring to Moses and then later the high priests.
Though access to God was limited when He drew near in this way, it foreshadowed the greatest way God has drawn near to us, in the person of Jesus. John 1:14 speaking of Jesus says:
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..
God drew near to us in Jesus and it was part of His relentless pursuit to be as near us as He can be. Through Jesus the final step of God’s pursuit was taken. Through the giving of Jesus’ life our sins can be forgiven making it possible for God to take the last step in His desire to be near us, by coming to live within us by His Spirit. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16:
16 Do you not know…the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Through faith in Christ, God by His Spirit can live within us, can be as close to us as He can be, representing the conclusion of God’s relentless pursuit to be near us.