Finding Shekinah

Our beach house for the week is called Shekinah. I recognized the word as Biblical, as in, the shekinah glory of God, but I didn’t know its meaning. What better finale to this month’s topical study of scripture then to gaze out from this literal shekinah in search of God’s glory?

Shekinah refers to the very dwelling place of God. It first appears in Exodus 25, where God instructs Moses to build the Ark of the Covenant:

There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.

Exodus 25:22

Eight of the nine other references to shekinah appear in the Old Testament and point to this specific spot, God dwelling between the cherubim.

Take a step back from the ark and you’ll see that it sits in the most holy place in the temple. A heavy, thick curtain separated shekinah from God’s people, whose sins created the need for this separation in the first place (Isaiah 59:2).

Even under these circumstances, consider how profound this revelation and accessibility to God must have been. The one, true, living God reveals his existence to the Israelites, and then says, “I want to be with you.”

Yet this same God, whose holiness could not be reconciled with human sinfulness, was not content to sit at even this distance. Hebrews 9 unpacks the full beauty of God’s solution and its divine perfection, “This [shekinah] was the Holy Spirit’s way of showing, with a visible parable, that as long as the large tent stands, people can’t just walk in on God….It’s essentially a temporary arrangement until a complete overhaul could be made.”

And that overhaul came in the person of Jesus. Jesus became the perfect sacrifice; his death and resurrection tore the curtain and removed the separation between us and God’s shekinah:

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory.

John 1: 14

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