In this article, we will take a look at the shekinah glory and what it means, and how it relates to God’s presence. So, grab your Bible, and let’s dig in…
The presence of God is a topic that has fascinated and intrigued people for centuries.
Throughout history, people have sought to understand and experience the presence of God in different ways, from religious rituals to meditation practices. One of the most powerful and awe-inspiring manifestations of God’s presence in the Bible is the Shekinah Glory.
This term refers to the visible manifestation of God’s glory and presence, which was often accompanied by dramatic signs and wonders. And I thought it would be fun to explore the Shekinah Glory in more detail, looking at its biblical origins, its significance, and its relevance for Christians today.
You will not find the words Shekinah glory in the Bible, but God’s abiding presence and glory can be seen throughout His Word.
The Bible tells us no man can look upon God’s face and live, but many accounts speak about a manifestation of God’s presence.
Let us delve into some of these encounters to try and understand what the Shekinah glory is.
What Is The Shekinah Glory?
And the glory of the LORD abode (shekinah) upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. – Exo 24:16
In Exodus, we read about the column of fire by night and the cloud that led the Israelites by day. We also learn about the smoke that filled the Tabernacle and Solomon’s temple.
These are a few examples of God’s Shekinah glory. The physical evidence of God in a form that man can perceive is what is referred to as the Shekinah glory.
When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He showed His presence as a flame that did not devour the bush. God’s presence was also visible on Mount Sinai when He called Moses to receive instructions for His nation. These are only a few examples of the Shekinah glory.
To better understand the Shekinah glory, we will need to look at the Hebrew and learn what Shekinah means.
What Does Shekinah Mean In Hebrew?
And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode (shekinah) thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. – Exo 40:35
Shekinah is a transliteration of the Hebrew word shâkan, meaning to dwell or abide. And it’s not just used for God’s presence but also used in general dwell.
In the King James Version we also see the words: abode, remaineth, rested, place, and set.
What a beautiful way to describe God’s presence.
שָׁכַן shâkan, shaw-kan’; a primitive root (apparently akin (by transmission) to H7901 through the idea of lodging; compare H5531, H7925); to reside or permanently stay (literally or figuratively):—abide, continue, (cause to, make to) dwell(-er), have habitation, inhabit, lay, place, (cause to) remain, rest, set (up).
We read about accounts where God dwelt among His people, and His presence could be seen. This became known as God’s abiding presence or Shekinah glory.
Shekinah means that we can see and feel God’s abiding presence. In the Bible, God’s Shekinah glory is described in a number of ways.
Shekinah is sometimes described as:
- A bright shining light
- A bright rainbow
- A cloud
- A glistering white light.
God’s glory is described by the Hebrew words kāḇôḏ or kāḇaḏ.
כָּבַדkâbad, kaw-bad’; or כָּבֵד kâbêd; a primitive root; to be heavy, i.e. in a bad sense (burdensome, severe, dull) or in a good sense (numerous, rich, honorable); causatively, to make weighty (in the same two senses):—abounding with, more grievously afflict, boast, be chargeable, × be dim, glorify, be (make) glorious (things), glory, (very) great, be grievous, harden, be (make) heavy, be heavier, lay heavily, (bring to, come to, do, get, be had in) honour (self), (be) honourable (man), lade, × more be laid, make self many, nobles, prevail, promote (to honour), be rich, be (go) sore, stop.
כָּבוֹדkâbôwd, kaw-bode’; rarely כָּבֹד kâbôd; from H3513; properly, weight, but only figuratively in a good sense, splendor or copiousness:—glorious(-ly), glory, honour(-able).
Often when the Shekinah glory is present, we read that people cannot stand because of His presence. The heaviness of God’s glory often causes people to be unable to stand in the presence of the Shekinah glory.
so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. – 2 Ch 5:14
Do We See The Shekinah Glory In the New Testament?
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. – John 15:4
The Shekinah glory can also be seen in many instances in the New Testament. Peter, John, and James saw God’s bright shining presence when they prayed with Jesus.
Luke 9:29-36 describes the bright glory of God upon Jesus followed by a cloud that covered them all, and they could hear God’s voice within the cloud.
This is referred to as the transfiguration, and it sounds very similar to the account of Moses when he received the law from God on Mount Sinai.
God’s voice was also heard inside the cloud covering the mountain, and Moses’ face shone because of God’s presence. The same Shekinah glory we saw in the Old Testament was also present in this New Testament account.
We see the same cloud in Acts 1: 9-11, where Jesus ascends to heaven in a cloud, and two angels clothed in white clothes speak to the disciples.
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” – Acts 1:9-11
We may miss that this section speaks of the Shekinah glory unless we look at the Greek meaning of the word cloud.
The word nephelē states that the cloud is similar to the one that led the Israelites in the desert.
νεφέληnephélē, nef-el’-ay; from G3509; properly, cloudiness, i.e. (concretely) a cloud:—cloud.
The angels give us a beautiful promise to hold on to when they tell us that Jesus will return like He was taken into heaven. We can see God’s glory frequently in John’s accounts in the Book of Revelation.
But this does not mean we need to wait until Jesus returns to be able to see and experience the Shekinah glory in our lives.
Stephen Saw The Shekinah Glory Of God
Stephen witnessed how the Shekinah glory led Abraham to live in a promised land. Later when Stephen is filled with the Holy Spirit and continues to witness before being stoned, he sees God’s Shekinah glory.
It seems that God’s presence (Act 7:55-60) with him gave Stephen the strength he needed to endure the torture he was going through. He could even intercede for those who persecuted him because of it.
In the Old Testament, the Shekinah glory appeared in the Tabernacle and the Temple but was not as frequently experienced by people. In the New Testament, because we now have Jesus’ Blood that has redeemed us, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we learn that our bodies are now the temple where God’s Holy Spirit can dwell. We are therefore supposed to glorify God in our bodies and spirits. This means we can live in God’s Shekinah glory!
What Does The Shekinah Glory Mean To Us Today?
To understand the role of the Shekinah glory in our lives today, let’s look back to the Old Testament again. In Exodus 13:21, we learn that God’s Shekinah glory led His people by day and by night. God’s presence provided guidance, heat in the cold desert nights, and protection from the heat during the day.
The Shekinah glory also protected the Israelites from their enemy. We see in Exodus 14: 19-24 that the Shekinah glory provided a shield between the Israelites and the Egyptian army. The Shekinah glory to the Egyptians appeared as a darkness that concealed God’s people. To the Israelites, it appeared as light.
Likewise, if we live within God’s will for our lives, we can live with the Shekinah glory leading and guiding us. We can live within God’s protection in everyday situations. From this perspective, promises in the Bible take on a whole new meaning. The Bible tells us to seek the Kingdom of God first, and then He will also meet our other needs.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
If we follow the leading of the Shekinah glory daily, we will be in step with God and His will and purpose for our lives. That is how we can seek His Kingdom daily, and in return, God can provide for all our needs.
The Israelites received supernatural provisions for forty years, and not even their clothes or shoes wore out. God provided all their needs because they followed where He led them. Following God when circumstances seem overwhelming requires faith and a relationship of trust. Living and walking in God’s Shekinah glory is a daily choice we must make to build this relationship.
Is it not wonderful knowing that, in return, God can blind our enemy? We are told that the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but we may live abundantly because of Jesus and His victory over sin and death.
Through a close relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit within us, the enemy is blinded, just like the Egyptian army was.
We have the beautiful promise of Christ within us, the hope of glory, and an eternal future with God, but that is not all. We have a promise that His Shekinah glory may dwell within us to lead and protect every aspect of our lives as well.
Our loving, caring God wants to abide with us daily. God wants us to have a close relationship with Him. God’s Shekinah glory is a way for us to perceive His supernatural presence in the natural. With God’s abiding presence in our lives every day, we can live a victorious life shielded from many of the evils of this world.
We can look forward to a future with God where His glorious presence is all the light we need. Until then, we can walk in His light for our lives daily. God’s Shekinah glory will surely lead and guide us just as the pillar of fire and the cloud led the Israelites through the wilderness all those years ago.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…