What is the Shekinah Glory of God described in the Bible?

by Dr. Michael L. Williams · Print Print · Email Email

Nearly all Christians are familiar with the idea of God’s glory. However, few Christians are familiar with the concept of the Shekinah Glory of God described in the Bible. Although the term “Shekinah Glory” is not found literally in the Bible, many scholars, most of which are Jewish, have written extensively about it. For this reason, a short study from God’s Word can help us to better understand this theological term.

What is the Shekinah Glory of God described in the Bible

What is the glory of the Lord?

Some traditional groups have a part in their worship service where they sing a “Doxology,” which is a short hymn praising God. In fact, the term doxology means glory to God. In one such short little song the glory of God is acknowledged as follows: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.” Others, sing a song praising God from whom all blessings flow as their “Doxology.” In either case, the glory of the Lord encompasses the concept of honoring and praising God and it is central to the practice of magnifying or making distinctive the person of God. However, there is another consideration when it comes to the glory of God and that is where the idea of the Shekinah Glory of God comes in.

What is the Shekinah Glory of God?

In many historical Jewish teachings, the Shekinah Glory of God speaks to that actual physical divine presence, dwelling, or abode of God. This comes from the Hebrew word, shākan (pronounced as shawkan), meaning “to reside or permanently stay (literal or figurative):- abide, continue, (cause to, make to) dwell (-er), have habitation, inhabit, lay, place, (cause to) remain, rest, set (up)” (1). An example of its use is seen in Exodus 24:16-18 as follows:

“And the glory of the LORD abode 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. And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.” (Emphasis added)

It is also described historically by theologians in many places in the Bible in the events that are documented concerning the presence of God as well as His presence the in the prophetic events to come (2). A few references to the Shekinah Glory of God are as follows:

The Glory of the Lord was seen in creation (Genesis 1:1-2)

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

The Glory of the Lord was seen in the Exodus (Exodus 13:20-22)

“And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. and the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”

The Glory of the Lord was seen in the tabernacle (Leviticus 16:2)

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” (See also 1 Kings 8:10-11)

The Glory of the Lord was briefly revealed to Moses (Exodus 33:18-23)

“And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”

The Glory of the Lord will be seen in the eternal future (Revelation 21:3, 22-24)

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”

“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.”

Conclusion

The term “Shekinah Glory” is not found literally as a phrase in the Bible, but many scholars, have written extensively about it throughout history. When referring to the glory of the Lord in practice by believers, it encompasses the concept of honoring and praising God in that it magnifies or makes distinctive praise to the person of God. The Shekinah Glory of God speaks to that actual physical divine presence, dwelling, or abode of God. There are many reference to this dwelling or Shekinah Glory of God in the past and future events to come.

Take a look at this example of Shekinah Glory: Tearing of the Temple Curtain

Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Strong, James. New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Strong’s number H7931, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990.  (2) Wikipedia. (2016). “Shekinah”. Retrieved from Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shekhinah.

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