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Bible Study – What is the Shechinah Glory?

Smith’s Bible Dictionary defines Shechinah as “Dwelling”.  It is not found in the Bible but later Jews and Christians used the term to refer to the visible majesty of the Divine Presence especially when resting or dwelling between the cherubim on the mercyseat.

The Semitic root word that Shechinah is derived from means to settle, inhabit or dwell or dwelling place.

In the Old Testament the visible manifestation of the glory of God is described as light, cloud and fire, “the glory of the Lord” or “the glory of Jehovah” also “the Angel of the Lord”.   The Angel of the Lord is known to be the second Person of the Trinity – pre-incarnate Messiah, the Son of God.

The visible manifestation of the glory of God.

Below is a representation of the references to the Shechinah Glory in Scripture.  In your daily Bible reading keep a lookout for more!

Moses and the Burning Bush – EXODUS 3: 1-6  1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”  4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. ESV

In the account of Moses’ first encounter with God “the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a blazing fire.”  The Lord identifies Himself from within the burning bush in verse six, “I am the God of your father…”NASB

The Glory of the Lord in the Wilderness – EXODUS 40:34-38 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 Throughout their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; 37 but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. 38 For throughout their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.  NASB

Some other occurrences of the Shechinah can be found in Leviticus 10:23-24; Numbers 14:10-12; Numbers 16:19; Numbers 16:42.

Throughout the wilderness journey of the Israelites, the Shechinah Glory went with them.  The Lord dwelt with the Jews throughout their journey toward the Promised Land; they did not travel alone. In hindsight, we look at these accounts and wonder how the Israelites could rebel against God when they could see His presence with them.  Then again we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and rebel as well.

The Ark of the Covenant brought into the Temple – 1 KINGS 8:9-13 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the sons of Israel when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 And it happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, to the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.  NASB

This is the account of the dedication of the First Temple during the time of King Solomon. What an amazing thing to imagine the priests running out of the Temple as the Glory of the Lord flowed through the whole house!  They knew to be in the Glory cloud when they were not ceremonially clean would have meant certain death in the presence of The Holy God.  How reassuring to know that we can stand in the very presence of God’s Glory because we are righteous in the eyes of God through the blood covering of our Savior, Yeshua the Messiah!

Glory to God in the Highest – LUKE 2:9-11 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. 10 And so the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people, 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. NASB

(Notice this passage says “an” angel of the Lord, not “the” Angel of the Lord.)

The Star in the East – MATTHEW 2:1-12 Gives the account of the Maggi coming from the East, Babylon, to find the child born King of the Jews.  This is an example of the Bible Study Rule that states when the Bible uses something symbolically you can find the interpretation in the Bible.  The star in the East (His star) did not act like an actual star, it guided the Maggi on their two-year journey to Jerusalem and then appeared again to lead them to Yeshua in Bethlehem where it settled over the house.  This is not how an actual start acts.  It is similar to the pillar of fire and cloud that led the Israelites in the wilderness of Exodus 40.

The Word became Flesh – JOHN 1:14 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and trust.  NASB

The Transfiguration of the Messiah – MATTHEW 17:1-8, MARK 9:2-8 & LUKE 9:28-36a, each gives an account of the Transfiguration of Yeshuah.

MATTHEW 17:2 – “He (Yeshua) was transfigured before them; and His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as the light…”

Peter, James and John witnessed the Glory of the Messiah first hand, they received a glimpse of the Kingdom to come.  They saw the Shechinah Glory of God that had been shielded by His earthly body and went on to write about it in the Epistles.

Something to think about:

Consider that the second Person of the Trinity, the Messiah, has always been the mediator between God the Father and man, beginning in Genesis in the garden. So the ultimate Shechinah is the Incarnate God-Man, the Messiah!  How is the Shechinah evident in us today?

Resources for Bible Study

Through the Bible www.ttb.org offers a 5-year study of the whole Bible and is available to listen to, or you can request study materials from the website.

Ariel Ministries www.ariel.org offers “Yeshua The Life of the Messiah from a Messianic Jewish Perspective”, by, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, TH.M,PH.D which is a great resource for an in-depth study of the Harmony of the Gospels.  Dr. Fruchtenbaum has spent the better part of his ministry publishing line-by-line studies of the books of the Bible from a Messianic Jewish perspective.

Notes:

  • Choose a literal translation, not a paraphrase for study. Some reliable translations are King James Version, New King James Version or New American Standard Bible.  Some examples of paraphrases are New Internation version, the Message and the Passion.
  • Ryrie Study Bible, NASB offers commentary, historical information and cross-references to enhance your personal study. Different versions of the Bible are available at BibleGateway.com where you can compare passages in different versions online.