Reading in John Calvin’s sermons on 2 Samuel today, I came across this wonderful statement. This comes from a sermon preached on July 3, 1562, “The True Worship of God,” an exposition of 2 Sam. 6:1-7. Calvin is discussing the implications of the affirmation that Yaweh, the God of Israel, “dwells between the cherubim.”
“Nevertheless, in order that we might know that God does not want to frustrate us, and that the signs which he gives us are not frivolous and empty baggage, like toys for little children, it says that God truly dwells between the cherubim. This does not mean that his essence is enclosed in the ark, but that he wishes to display his virtue there for the salvation of his people. Similarly, today in the waters of baptism, it is the same as if the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ poured down from heaven to water our souls and cleanse them from their uncleanness. When we have the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, it is the same as if Jesus Christ were coming down from heaven and making himself our food, so that we could be filled with him. We must not, therefore, take these signs as visible things and figures that are to feed our spiritual senses, but are to realize that God joins his virtue and truth to them, so that the thing and the effect are joined to the figure. We must not put asunder what God has joined together” (Sermons on 2 Samuel: John Calvin, trans. by Douglas Kelley [Banner of Truth, 1992], 236).