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SHEKINAH

February 24, 2013

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SHEKINAH (Shechinah) – The word SHEKINAH is not found in the Bible but is a rabbinical term used in the Targums (Aramaic paraphrase of the OT) to describe the glorious divine light dwelling on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies (Ex 25:8-note, cf Lev 26:11-note). As discussed below, SHEKINAH was also used to describe a number of other OT manifestations of light, fire, and/or a cloud, each manifestation associated with the presence of God. SHEKINAH is from the verb SHAKAN which means to settle down or dwell which in turn gives us a beautiful picture of “One Who dwells”, of the Holy God mercifully dwelling with undeserving people. Fruchtenbaum notes that “The usual title found in Scriptures for the Shekinah Glory is the GLORY OF THE LORD” adding that “Whenever the invisible God becomes visible, and whenever the omnipresence of God is localized, this is the SHEKINAH GLORY.” As one ponders this incredible picture of a God Who is described as “like a consuming fire” (Ex 24:17-note = a Shekinah-like manifestation) and yet Who still seeks to dwell with those who did not seek to dwell with Him (cf Ro 3:11-note; Recall God calling “Where are you?” to Adam hiding in sin and shame! Ge 3:7-9-note), this truth of SHEKINAH should evoke continual gratitude in the hearts of all of us who have been brought into the “everlasting covenant” (Heb 13:20KJV) with the “Lord Christ Jesus, the LORD OF GLORY” (Jas 2:1-note).

In the OT, the rabbis used SHEKINAH to describe “the LORD going before (the children of Israel during their 40 years of wilderness wandering in the form of) a PILLAR OF CLOUD by day to lead them on the way and in a PILLAR OF FIRE by night to give them light.” (Ex 13:21-note, cf Nu 9:17-18,22-note). Even as Israel experienced the protection, presence and power of the Shekinah GLORY OF THE LORD during their wilderness testings (See Ex 14:9-note, Ex 14:19-20-note), so too can we experience His protecting presence and power during our times of wilderness testing! Indeed, in the New Testament Paul alludes to the presence and power of the Shekinah, the “One Who dwells,” when he prayed for removal of a thorn (2Cor 12:7-8-note) and Jesus answered “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in your weakness,” to which Paul responded (as should we) “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may DWELL upon me “like the Shekinah Glory in the Holy of Holies of the Tent of Meeting” (Wuest paraphrase of 2Cor 12:9-note)

Robertson explains that in 2Cor 12:9-note the Greek verb DWELL (episkenoo) means “to pitch a tent upon Paul, as if the SHEKINAH OF THE LORD were overshadowing him.” And so as we “boast” (enabled by His Spirit) in our weaknesses, the “LORD OF GLORY” (title of Jesus in 1Cor 2:8-note) Himself will “PITCH HIS TENT” upon us, enabling us to experience His supernatural presence and power in our time of need (which is all the time!). Kent Hughes adds that “Christ PITCHES HIS TENT with the weak and the unknown, the suffering shut-in, the anonymous pastor and missionary, the godly, quiet servants in the home and the marketplace.” Hallelujah! Wiersbe reminds us that “Strength that knows itself to be strength is actually weakness, but weakness that knows itself to be weakness is actually strength!” Spurgeon agrees that “Our weakness should be prized as making room for divine strength. We might never have known the power of grace if we had not felt the weakness of our fallen nature. Just as the SHEKINAH light dwelt in the tent of the wilderness beneath the rough badger skins, so I boast to be a poor frail tent and tabernacle, that the SHEKINAH of Jesus Christ may dwell upon my soul.” John Piper adds “What a tragic waste when people turn away from the Calvary road of love and suffering. All the riches of the GLORY OF GOD IN CHRIST (cf “Shekinah”) are on that road. All the sweetest fellowship with Jesus is there. All the treasures of assurance. All the ecstasies of joy. All the clearest sightings of eternity. All the noblest camaraderie. All the humblest affections. All the most tender acts of forgiving kindness. All the deepest discoveries of God’s Word. All the most earnest prayers. They are all on the Calvary road where Jesus (dwells) with His people. Take up your cross and follow Jesus. On this road, and this road alone, life is Christ and death is gain. Life on every other road is wasted.” In a parallel passage, Peter reminds us that “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the SPIRIT OF GLORY (cf Shekinah) and of God RESTS UPON upon you.” (1Pe 4:15-note) as it did on Spirit filled Stephen as he was being stoned (Acts 6:15-note, Acts 7:54-56-note)!

At the completion of the OT Tabernacle “the (Shekinah) CLOUD covered the tent of meeting, and the (Shekinah) GLORY OF THE LORD filled (Same Gk verb in Acts 2:4-note Pentecost = “they were all FILLED with the Holy Spirit”!) the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the CLOUD had settled (Hebrew = shakan = was dwelling) on it, and the GLORY OF THE LORD filled the tabernacle (Heb = mishkan = “dwelling place” from shakan)….throughout all their journeys, the (Shekinah) CLOUD of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was (Shekinah) FIRE in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.” (Ex 40:34-35, 38-note) Similarly when King Solomon dedicated the Temple as “the priests came out of the Holy Place, the (Shekinah) CLOUD filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the GLORY OF THE LORD had filled the house of the LORD” (1Ki 8:10-11-note). Adrian Rogers remarks that this dramatic OT event “was an object lesson, an illustration of every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. For now, after Pentecost, at the moment of our salvation we become temples of the Holy Spirit. God through His Holy Spirit indwells us, just as His Spirit came and FILLED the Holy of Holies with SHEKINAH GLORY when it was FULLY DEDICATED to Him. Yet, some Christians appear not to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit. GLORY does not fill their house. They have allowed the SELF-LIFE and the cares of this world to move the Lord Jesus from that place of preeminence that is rightfully His. They are no longer Spirit-filled but are what the Bible calls “carnal” or fleshly. Therefore, we have this admonition of the Apostle Paul: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be (being continually) filled with (controlled by) the Spirit (even as wine controls the thoughts, words and deeds of a drunken man!)” (Eph 5:18-note).

Just before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the “(SHEKINAH) GLORY OF THE GOD of Israel” departed from the Temple and “went up from the midst of the city and stood over the (Mt of Olives) which is east of the city.” (Ezek 11:23-note) The Shekinah, which throughout Israel’s history had been the visible symbol of the PRESENCE OF JEHOVAH was gone, gone even from the rebuilt Temple (including Herod’s). And yet some 400 years later, “in the greatness of (God’s) lovingkindness” (Ps 69:13-note), “when the fullness of time came” (Gal 4:4-note), John records “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became a human being and lived (literally “tabernacled” or “fixed His tent”) with us, and we saw His Shekinah (even as Israel had seen the Shekinah dwelling upon the first Tabernacle), the Shekinah of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:1,14-note Jewish New Testament translation) Indeed, the incarnation of Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all the OT shadows of Shekinah, the ultimate visible manifestation of God’s presence, “Immanuel, God with us.” (Mt 1:23-note) “Pleased, as Man, with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel! Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!” (cf Lk 2:14-note) Christ is the “King of GLORY” (Ps 24:7-10-note), the One Who “is the radiance (brightness, effulgence) of His (Father’s) GLORY and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb 1:3-note) “for God Who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made us understand that this light is the (Shekinah) brightness of the GLORY OF GOD seen in the face of Jesus Christ” (2Cor 4:6NLT-note) Who Himself declared that “he who beholds Me beholds the One Who sent Me.” (Jn 12:45-note). Indeed, Jesus is the ultimate answer to Moses’ incredible prayer “LORD, show me Thy glory.” (Ex 33:18-note) As Spurgeon writes today the SHEKINAH GLORY of JESUS “is to be seen, but not with the eyes — this is to be perceived, but not by the carnal senses: this is seen, and heard, and known, by spiritual men, whose mental perceptions are keener than those of sight and hearing. (cf Mt 16:17-note) In the Person of the Lord Jesus there is a glory which is seen by our faith (2Cor 5:7-note, 2Cor 4:18-note), which is discerned of our renewed spirits, and is made to operate upon our hearts. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Mt 5:8-note); yea, they do see Him in Christ Jesus.”

Now that Jesus has ascended to the right hand of Glory, where is the “Shekinah”? Paul says it is “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27-note) adding that that as we “with unveiled face are beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord (His Word Jas 1:23-25-note), we are being transformed into the same image (of God’s Son Ro 8:29-note) from GLORY to GLORY, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2Cor 3:18-note) Indeed, our “body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (of Jesus, Acts 16:7-note) Who is in us, Whom we have from God, and that we are not our own, for we have been bought with a price and are therefore called to GLORIFY God in our body.” (1Cor 6:19-20-note).

Paul writes that “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1Cor 13:12-note) And so while it is difficult imagine what God’s glory will look like when we see our Lord Jesus Christ, the various descriptions in Scripture would indicate that His Glory will be the most beautiful sight we will experience throughout eternity. All of the goodness and beauty we see in the present will be nothing in comparison to the refulgent GLORY OF GOD. As we consider our future face to face (Coram Deo) encounter with the Shekinah Glory of God, may we be motivated to reflect His glory, living as “children of God above reproach, as lights in the world” (Php 2:15-note) allowing “our light to shine before men in such a way that they may see our good works, and GLORIFY our Father Who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:16-note) In the final manifestation of God’s Shekinah, we read that “the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them” in the New Jerusalem which “has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the GLORY OF GOD has illumined it, and its lamp is the LAMB.” (Rev 21:3-note, Rev 21:23-note And so in God’s final manifestation of perfect communion and oneness with His redeemed children, we will enter into the true HOLY OF HOLIES illuminated by the SHEKINAH GLORY of the King of kings and Lord of lords. And “In His temple everyone shouts, “GLORY!” (Ps 29:9NLT-note)

Father by Thy Spirit strengthen us with power in our inner being (Eph 3:16-note), so that as we hope for what we do not see, we will with perseverance “wait expectantly and in great anticipation for” (Ro 8:25-note), the appearance of “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and GREAT (Shekinah) GLORY” (Mt 24:30-note). Amen.

Mediate on the greatness of His Shekinah Glory as you sing…

King of Glory by Third Day
Glorious One- artist unknown
Glorious One by Steve Fee

More In Depth Discussion:
Shekinah Glory
References Related to Glory of God
Departure of the Shekinah Glory from Solomon’s Temple

The Lord is There-Jehovah Shammah

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