Friday, May 4, 2012

The Shekinah Glory

Leviticus 9:23-24 Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

The Uncreated Fire of God
The place of worship in the Old Testament was known as the tabernacle or the "dwelling place of God" (tabernaculum=Latin term meaning dwelling place).  Prominent in the courtyard of the tabernacle was the Altar of Burnt sacrifices, where the priests would offer sacrifices brought by the people.  Day and night was that altar to be kept lit.  It  is in this text where we see the beginning of the sacrificial system.  It was not man who lit the flames upon the altar - it was God.

According to the text, fire sprang forth from before the Lord.  This fire was not any ordinary fire.  This was celestial fire, uncreated fire.  The fire that was to burn on this altar was an other worldly, Divine fire.  This fire was lit by the very Shekinah glory of God.

What is God's Shekinah Glory?
The Jews employed this term "Shekinah" in the days between the Old and New Testaments.  According to the New Bible Dictionary, the term "Shekinah" derives from a Hebrew word "Shekan" meaning "to dwell".  It was God's intention the whole time to dwell with His people, which is why He initated the construction of the tabernacle in the first place. (compare Exodus 25)

The Shekinah of God was what we could term the "inner glory" of God.  Another term in the Hebrew Bible, translated glory (Hebrew term is pronounced "cavod"), as well as other terms, describe the presence of God revealed to people, more of an "outer glory".  So with these ideas of "inner glory" and "outer glory", God was aiming to making his inner most identity known to His people.  He wanted to dwell, to "shakan". 

The connection between the "Shekinah glory" and Christ's incarnation
When God the Son came in human flesh, He was doing in the New Testament what God the Father had done in the Old - dwelling among the people.  The difference being was that the "tabernacle" of the Son was not made of fabric, metal and wood, but was a "flesh and bone" tabernacle.  John 1:14 states -  "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

That word "dwelt" in John 1:14 is a Greek word which could also be translated "tabernacled".  Quite literally, God in the Person of the Son tabernacled Himself in human flesh!  But there is more to this word.

According to the New Bible Dictionary, the Greek word that we just mentioned in John 1:14 may very well be connected to the word "Shekinah".  If so, then the inner uncreated glory of God has literally manifested in human flesh!  Christ quite literally is the walking, breathing Shekinah glory!

God the Son fulfilled the will of the Father by dwelling amidst the people as the Flesh and Blood Shekinah Glory of God
When the Jews had coined this term "Shekinah", they were assigning a term to the otherwise indescribable being of God that was revealed throughout Old Testament revelation.  .  When Christ came, He literally was able from His Co-Equality with the Father "explain God". (John 1:18)  The Shekinah Glory which is first met in the Creation account of Genesis 1 came to dwell over the tabernacle and the temple in the Old Testament.  This Shekinah glory, which was uncreated fire and light in the Old Testament, manifested in human flesh.  As Colossians 2:9 states - "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form".

The Shekinah of God signals the completion of God's purposes for history and Eternity
Revelation 21:3 "And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them".  At the center of all the activity leading from history into eternity will be the outer glory of God radiating through the inward glory of the "Shekinah" God the Son.  God the Son is God tabernacled, "Shekinahed" among the people.  He reveals in perfect clarity what will be the background uncreated glory of the Father.  The Spirit of God will be forever impressing into the hearts of God's people the deepening delight of dwelling in Christ, and He in them. 

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