THE SHEKINAH GLORY IN US
The Bible introduces God in the plural as an “US.” We address Him in the singular as God, or Lord, or Almighty, Creator, or The Most High. God manifested Himself to Adam, Noah, Abraham, and to Moses as “I AM,” which became “Yahweh” (Lord). Then, the Lord God was present in a pillar cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and ultimately by the Ark of the Covenant. And finally, God moved back into men and women. Any work that had to be done in the world, the Lord God did through man. And the greatest of all works, God did through Jesus Christ. Jesus personalized God and brought God down to earth as the “Emmanuel.” In the Hebrew “Emmanuel” means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Jesus was the “Presence” or “Shekinah” of God among and with man for a short time. The Holy Spirit replaced Jesus. The Holy Spirit is invisible, or is He? Jesus gave this answer to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29).
Moses was the greatest leader of Israel, but Moses was not the first person close to God. In spite of Adam’s reputation as the first sinner, Adam also was, at one time, closer to God than any other human being, except the Son of God. Right after the couple sinned, we have this account in Genesis: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ God asked, ‘who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?’ Adam said, ‘the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate’” (Genesis 3:8-12). Sin, instantly, separated Adam from God. Sin does separate every person from a holy God. Obeying God’s Commandments and doing what is right brings man closer to God. And disobeying God’s Commandments and doing what is wrong distances man from God. Enoch was a man who did what was right and God removed him from a sinful earth (Genesis 5:21-24). Noah was chosen for the same reason to save the human race because, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9). Noah’s descendant Shem produced Abram-Abraham, who produced Jacob-Israel, who produced Judah, who produced David, who adopted Jesus the Christ. The Lord God did not let “His Image” or “His Likeness,” in man, to perish or to die. Again and again, God chose people, some good and some bad, to revive His image (the human spirit) in them and to fill them with His Spirit. God did preserve a remnant for His Son, the Redeemer to save mankind.
Moses, being with the Lord, was unaware that his physical appearance also had changed. The “Shekinah” or the “Presence” of the Lord began to shine through Moses. The Spirit of God had filled Moses’ heart so full that his face began to shine and it blinded his closest family and fellow laborers in Israel’s deliverance. Moses’ experience was similar to Jesus’ transfiguration on a high mountain before Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1-13). The “Shekinah” does alter the human appearance and makes the change visible to others. Peter, himself, had assimilated his Lord’s manners, which betrayed him (Matthew 26:69-75). The Sanhedrin interrogating Peter and John, saw the influence of Jesus in their lives, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acrs 4:13). Paul experienced a change in mind and body. Paul appealed to his converts to do likewise, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your physical evidence of His presence in you. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and full or complete in God’s eyes” (Romans 12:1-2; writer’s own translation).
The Greek word for perfect is “teleion,” and it does not mean, “being perfect,” but it does mean doing the very best one can do to please God. No one is perfect because no one is “all good,” but only God. A man came running to Jesus, knelt before Him and called Him “Good teacher,” and asked how he could inherit eternal life or become perfect. Jesus said to the man, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments.” The man admitted that he knew and that he kept the Commandments. Yet, Jesus was not satisfied how he applied the Commandments and Jesus told the man, “You lack one thing; go sell all that you have, and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” The man walked away dejected because he could not fulfill the command, “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 10:17-22). In connection with the way godly people should treat their enemies and the strangers, Jesus gave another example on being perfect, like our heavenly Father is perfect: “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect (teleioi), as your heavenly Father is perfect (teleios)” (Matthew 5:43-48).
The word “good” means to do what is right and the word “evil” means to do what is wrong; yet, God wants us to do what is right to both, the good and the evil. God does not have two sets of rules, and neither should those who purport that they are God’s children. In the Parable of The Good Samaritan, the Samaritan did not ask the victim whether he was good or bad. The Samaritan saw the need and he became the one that loved the stranger with his earthly goods. And it was the attitude of helping those in need, that Jesus was looking for in the expert of the law, who tried to define who his neighbor was (Luke 10:25-37). The child of God must become a candle that can light up, or a “Shekinah” that points to Christ and to our Father, who is present in us. Jesus told his disciples, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). In the New Testament or the Covenant, the “Shekinah” is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). And the Holy Spirit expresses Himself in love, in forgiveness, in mercy, in repentance, and in reconciliation. The Apostle Paul identified the “Presence’ or “Shekinah” as the fruits of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24). The Apostle John made this appeal, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as He is righteous. He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: no one who does not do right is of God, nor any one who does not love his brother” (I John 3:7-10). The phrase, “he cannot sin” does not mean that God has removed from his children the ability to sin; rather, God commands or orders his children to say, “NO” to sin and to say, “NO” to the devil. The children of God must resist the devil and the devil will flee by submitting one self to God (James 4:7).
The “Shekinah” of the Lord turned Moses into a glaring light and Moses had to veil his face. “And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with the people, he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went up before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone; and Moses would put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with the Lord” (Exodus 34:30-35). The “veil” separated Moses from the people and hid Yahweh from them; rather, the people preferred the “veil” to Moses’ glaring face. The change or transfiguration was simply too much for the Israelites. This was also true during the time of Jesus when Jesus changed and talked to Moses and Elijah, but told Peter, James, and John not to report the vision, until the Son of man returned from the dead (Matthew 17:1-9). The Risen Christ or Lord, however, unlike Moses, wants to be made public and He wants to have our lives shine for Him. “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
The “veil” did not then, or at any other time, allow God’s redemptive purpose to be made public. Moses was ordered to “veil” the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy of Holiest and everything that had anything to do with God. “His brightness was like the light, rays flashed from his hand; and there He veiled his power” (Habakkuk 3:4). Solomon replaced the “veil” with a huge curtain to keep everyone out from the “Presence” or from the “Shekinah” of God. Isaiah, the prophet, was told that God would open up to the world. “And He will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all the peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations” (Isaiah 25:7). When Jesus died on the cross, the “veil” or the curtain in the temple tore open (Matthew 27:51). The Jewish leaders, unbeknown to them, had the Romans move God out of their temple into the world, where God became accessible to all men (John 4:23-24). For some, perhaps too many people, the “veil” still clouds their minds. Paul felt the “veil” intensely, “But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds, but when a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory (Shekinah) of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:14-18). No one can stop our mouth from telling others, who Jesus is and what Jesus means to us! (Quotes are from RSV, unless otherwise stated).