Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory
Most people have little understanding of what the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God is, let alone realize the prophetic significance of this manifestation of God. The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, and it is form of a Hebrew word that literally means "he caused to dwell" -- signifying that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of YEHOVAH God on this earth. In order to fully understand the prophetic passages in the book of Revelation, we need to thoroughly grasp the concept of the physical manifestations of our Creator God.
John D. Keyser
In Revelation 21:22, the phrase "glory of God" in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures is rendered "God's SH'KHINAH" in the Jewish New Testament -- notice!
"I saw no temple in the city, for ADONAI [YEHOVAH], God of heaven's armies, is its Temple, as is the Lamb [Christ]. The city has no need for the sun or the moon to shine on it, because GOD'S SH'KHINAH gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb."
This is very important. The word "Shekinah" (Sh'khinah) was coined from verbal cognates (related words) in the Bible which describe the "presence" of YEHOVAH God in a certain locality. The verbal cognates are used extensively to describe the "Shekinah" appearances. The word "Shekinah" itself is not found in the Biblical texts, but the concept clearly is. The word most certainly is derived from "shakan," and whoever first used the word "Shekinah" coined it as a substantive (noun form) from the verbal forms used to describe the "abiding, dwelling, or habitation" of the physical manifestations of YEHOVAH God described in Exodus 24:16, 40:35 and Numbers 9:17-18 -- and various other places where "shakan" is used.
Note that the word is also used to describe the mystical "Shekinah" presence in the Tabernacle and later in the first and second Temples. The word "mishkan," (mshkn), a derivation of "shakan" (shkn), is often translated "tabernacle." The Hebrew for tabernacle is more often simply "ohel," 'ohel, or tent. "Mishkan" means "dwelling place" -- that is, THE "DWELLING PLACE" OF "HIM WHO DWELLS" OR "SHEKINAH."
The Hebrew verb "shakan" (shkn) simply means to take up residence for a long period of time in a neighborhood. The distinction between this word and "yashav" -- which is also translated "dwell" -- is as follows: You can use the word "yashav" to mean an individual doing the dwelling WITHOUT reference to others or to duration, while "shakan" means a PROTRACTED DWELLING IN THE MIDST OF A NEIGHBORHOOD OR A GROUP OF PEOPLE. The primary meaning is to reside and continue as a member of the community. Of course, when it refers to YEHOVAH God, it takes on an added mysticism that is obvious from the scriptures.
When verbal forms are translated as nouns, the word sometimes means "habitat." Grammatically (in Hebrew), when verbal forms are translated as nouns, they are called "substantives." Technically, therefore, "Shekinah" is a substantive rather than a noun.
Some people object that the word "Shekinah," (shknh), is not to be found in the Old Testament in its noun form, and that it describes a concept that is not scriptural. It is also claimed that the word was coined by Post-Biblical Rabbinic scholars. While it is admitted that the Rabbinic concept of YEHOVAH God being some sort of hovering non-personal force is an unacceptable extension of the meaning, the CONCEPT OF A PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION of YEHOVAH God's localized dwelling on this planet IS, nonetheless, scriptural. I have chosen to use the word "Shekinah" (shknh) to name this "presence" and to better develop a concept I will get to later on in the article. Also, this meaning is in general use among many Christians -- even though they are generally ignorant of the origin of the word.
In the Encyclopedia Judaica the "Shekinah" is defined as "the Divine Presence, the numinous immanence of God in the world,...a revelation of the holy in the midst of the profane...." (Volume 14, pp. 1349-1351).
The Encyclopedia goes on to say --
"One of the more prominent images associated with the Shekhinah is that of light. Thus on the verse, '...the earth did shine with His glory' (Ezekiel 43:2), the rabbis remark, 'This is the face of the Shekhinah' (Avot diRabbi Natan [18b-19a]; see also Chullin 59b-60a). Both the angels in heaven and the righteous in olam ha-ba ('the world to come') are SUSTAINED BY THE RADIANCE OF THE SHEKINAH (Exodus Rabbah 32:4, B'rakhot 17a; cf. Exodus 34:29-35)....
"According to Saadiah Gaon [882-942 C.E.], the Shekhinah is identical with kevod ha-Shem (the glory of God"), which served as an INTERMEDIARY BETWEEN GOD AND MAN during the prophetic experience. He suggests that the "glory of God" is the Biblical term, and Shekhinah the Talmudic term for the created splendor of light which ACTS AS AN INTERMEDIARY BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, and which sometimes TAKES ON HUMAN FORM. Thus when Moses asked to see the glory of God, HE WAS SHOWN THE SHEKHINAH, and when the prophets in their visions saw God in HUMAN LIKENESS, what they actually saw WAS NOT GOD HIMSELF BUT THE SHEKHINAH (see Saadiah's interpretation of Ezekiel 1:26, I Kings 22:19, and Daniel 7:9 in Book of Beliefs and Opinions 2:10)."
Throughout the Bible YEHOVAH God speaks of His desire for an intimate relationship with His people. The "Shekinah," therefore, refers to the presence of YEHOVAH that was -- but is not now -- physically manifested in the time-space continuum. It could be seen. The presence was A VEHICLE OF THE PERSON OF YEHOVAH GOD IN THE THREE DIMENSIONAL WORLD. Solomon's understanding that YEHOVAH cannot actually be limited to Temples on earth because of His eternal nature can be seen in I Kings 8:27 --
"But will God really dwell [yashav"] on earth? Even the heavens to their utmost reaches cannot contain You, how much less this House [Temple] that I have built!"
This omniscient, eternal presence of YEHOVAH (that Solomon recognized) is the HEAVENLY, but not the earthly, "Shekinah." Even though the INFINITE spiritual presence is, and was, COINCIDENTAL with the PHYSICALLY DISCERNIBLE "SHEKINAH" -- it was DISTINGUISHED from the physical even in Mosaic times. Right now the "Shekinah" is only manifested in the infinite way, but in the near future it will be manifested in the PHYSICAL FORM once again when IT RETURNS TO THIS EARTH to reside in the new Temple in Jerusalem!
During the time of Moses the added PHYSICAL "Shekinah" presence was evidence of the REAL which is omnipresent and unseen. During the Mosaic dispensation the "Shekinah" was physically disturbing. The presence was NOT YEHOVAH (YHVH) -- it was a PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION of the actual presence of YEHOVAH among His people. Be aware that it is to be distinguished from the "angel of the LORD." The "Shekinah" was first evident when the Israelites set out from Succoth in their escape from Egypt. There it appeared as a cloudy pillar in the day and a fiery pillar by night -- note Exodus 13:20:
"They set out from Succoth, and encamped at Ethan, at the edge of the wilderness. The LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH] went before them in a PILLAR OF CLOUD by day, to guide them along the way, and in a PILLAR OF FIRE by night, to give them light that they might travel day and night. The PILLAR OF CLOUD by day and the PILLAR OF FIRE by night did not depart from before the people."
The physical "Shekinah" was also evident at the crossing of the Red Sea --
"At the morning watch, the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH] looked down upon the Egyptian army from a PILLAR OF FIRE AND CLOUD, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He locked the wheels of their chariots so that they moved forward with difficulty. And the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the Israelites, for the LORD [YEHOVAH] is fighting for them against Egypt" (Exodus 14:24-25).
The Israelites were led by the "Shekinah" for forty years, after which the "holy presence" of the omniscient God inhabited the Tabernacle and the land of Israel. The "Shekinah" was not always afterwards physically manifested -- as we read in Numbers 35:34 --
"You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I Myself abide ['shakan'], for I the LORD [YEHOVAH] abide ['shakan'] among the Israelite people."
When Moses and the Israelites finished erecting the Tabernacle, the "Shekinah" of YEHOVAH God filled it:
"When Moses had finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the PRESENCE OF THE LORD [YEHOVAH] filled the Tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled upon it and the PRESENCE OF THE LORD filled the Tabernacle. When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out, on their various journeys; but if the cloud did not lift, they would not set out until such time as it did lift. For over the Tabernacle a cloud of the LORD rested by day, and the fire would appear in it by night, in the view of all the house of Israel throughout their journeys" (Exodus 40:33-38).
Whenever that presence was physically manifested, it was frightening to those who experienced it:
"When Moses had ascended the mountain, the cloud covered the mountain. The PRESENCE OF THE LORD ['Cavod YHVH'] abode ['shakan'] on Mount Sinai, and the cloud hid it for six days. On the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. Now the PRESENCE OF THE LORD ['Cavod YHVH'] appeared in the sight of the Israelites as a consuming fire on the top of the mountain" (Exodus 24:15-17).
Writes Fred P. Miller: "Earlier, the seventy elders had gone up into the cloud and actually saw the "Shekinah" glory, and they were so afraid they asked Moses never to take them again. As far as they were concerned, they saw God! You can only imagine their hair on end and their wide-eyed appearance as they came down from the mountain exclaiming 'We saw God! It was terrible!'" (Zechariah and Jewish Renewal).
A few days earlier, when the Ten Commandments were given, the appearance of the physical presence of YEHOVAH God on Mount Sinai is described as fire and cloud and thick darkness. The Psalms contain a description of this event calling it a "Shekinah" presence --
"Why do you fume with envy, you mountains of many peaks? This is the mountain [Sinai] which God desires to dwell ['shakan'] in; yes, the LORD [YEHOVAH] will dwell in it forever. The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands; the LORD is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy Place. You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive; you have received gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD GOD might dwell ['shakan'] there" (Psalm 68:16-18).
Later, as we have seen, the physical "Shekinah" presence of YEHOVAH God took up residence in the newly completed Tabernacle and was apparent to the whole nation of Israel.
There are a number of other occasions when the direct intervention of YEHOVAH God was manifest in a "Shekinah" presence to Moses. At the time of the setting up of the Tabernacle (before it was finished) YEHOVAH spoke to Moses out of the cloud and Moses realized the "Shekinah" was a VEHICLE and NOT YEHOVAH God. As we see in Exodus 33, Moses asked for more -- to actually "see" YEHOVAH God -- and YEHOVAH allowed him to see A LARGER PORTION of His PHYSICAL "Shekinah" presence. Notice --
"And the LORD [YEHOVAH] said to Moses, 'I will also do this thing that you have asked; for you have truly gained My favor and I have singled you out by name.' He [Moses] said, 'Oh, let me behold Your Presence!' [He was speaking to Yehovah's voice coming from the 'Shekinah.'] And He [YEHOVAH] answered, 'I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim before you the name LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH], and the grace that I grant and the compassion that I show. But,' He said, 'you cannot see My face, for men may not see Me and live.'"
After Israel entered the Promised Land, YEHOVAH's presence was manifested spiritually in the Tabernacle -- but not often in a physical manner. YEHOVAH's actual presence was always accepted by the Israelites as being in the Tabernacle (and later in the Temple), but was not always physically confirmed by the visible "Shekinah." However, there were occasional renewals of miraculous appearances of the "Shekinah" -- such as when the Temple of Solomon was dedicated. There was an initial appearance in a vision when the LORD (YEHOVAH) promised that He would "shakan" or dwell in the house that Solomon was building. Notice I KIngs 6:11-13:
"Then the word of the LORD [YEHOVAH] came to Solomon, 'With regard to this House [Temple] you are building -- if you follow My laws and observe My rules and faithfully keep My commandments, I will fulfill for you the promise that I gave to your father David: I will abide ['shakan'] among the children of Israel, and I will never forsake My people Israel.'"
Later, when the construction of the Temple was finished and the day of dedication was at hand, the holy "Shekinah" manifested itself in a very physical way --
"When the priests came out of the sanctuary -- for the cloud ['Shekinah'] had filled the House of the LORD and the priests were not able to remain and perform the services be cause of the cloud ['Shekinah'], for the Presence of the LORD filled the House of the LORD -- then Solomon declared: 'The LORD has chosen to abide ['shaken'] in a thick cloud: I have now built for you a stately House, a place where You may dwell ['shakan'] forever'" (I Kings 8:10-13).
This same incident is recorded in II Chronicles 5:13. The "Shekinah" would no longer be associated with the Tabernacle but was to be transferred to the Temple. As a result, this physical manifestation was necessary to that generation because the Law of Moses was being amended at this point and YEHOVAH God was showing His approval of the amendment to His legal system by the manifestation of the "Shekinah."
Whenever YEHOVAH God makes a "forever" promise in the Bible, there are conditions connected to it -- and this case is no different. When He said He would dwell ("shakan") in the Temple "forever," there were conditions to this promise. Therefore, at the destruction of the First Temple, He did not allow His "Shekinah" presence to stay in the Holy of Holies (inner sanctuary of the Temple) after a certain level of corruption had taken place. What is surprising is that He stayed in the Temple for so long! Evidently, His love for His people is such that He endures far more than any human judge would deem possible. Even with all the corruption that occurred during the last days of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (and most of the reign of Zedekiah). Ezekiel's vision of the DEPARTURE OF YEHOVAH'S "SHEKINAH" from the Temple and city did not occur until after the beginning of the final siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and his army.
Ezekiel's description of YEHOVAH's "Shekinah" is more detailed but very similar to what the 70 elders saw on Mount Sinai, as recorded in Exodus 24. Writes Fred Miller --
"Ezekiel's description of the 'Shekinah' in chapter one of his prophecy is physically exciting just to read. Imagine actually seeing it! It is described as fire enfolding itself borne by cherubic creatures whose appearance pulsated with undulating light, themselves borne by gyroscopic double wheels. Lightning came out of the midst of the fire surrounded by clear sapphire where a man-like person on a throne sat in an electric eye. If electricity is anachronistic, the word is nonetheless 'chashmal' which is the modern Hebrew word for electricity. The Septuagint has "electrum" and so does the Vulgate! Whatever 'chashmal' and 'electrum' meant to the ancients who used these words it can only be said that 'eyn chashmal' in Hebrew and 'opsin electrou' in Greek and 'speciem electri' found in Latin in Eze. 1:27 is not 'amber' as in the English translation. The word 'color' does not appear in the text" (Zechariah and Jewish Renewal).
There are other descriptions of the nature of YEHOVAH God's "Shekinah" that Ezekiel saw LEAVING a then desolate Temple. The building was still standing but no longer had YEHOVAH's glory before it was destroyed!
The Departure and Return of the "Shekinah"
It should be noted that Ezekiel saw both the DEPARTURE of the "Shekinah" and the RETURN in two distinct visions separated in time by a number of years. The visions that he saw -- of events that happened after his own death -- describe exactly the same "Shekinah" which he saw first in chapter ten and then afterwards leave the Temple in chapter ten. As we shall note, at the beginning of chapter ten the "Shekinah" was still in the Temple --
"The glory of the LORD ['Cavod YHVH'] went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house [Temple]; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory ['Cavod YHVH']."
However, YEHOVAH God was making preparations to REMOVE the "Shekinah" from the Temple and then from the very city itself:
"And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight; when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the EAST GATE of the LORD'S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above" (Ezekiel 10:19).
Then, in Ezekiel 11:23, we read of the actual DEPARTURE of YEHOVAH's "Shekinah" from the MOUNT OF OLIVES --
"And the glory of the LORD ['Cavod YHVH'] went up from the midst of the city, and stood on the mountain which is on the east side of the city [Mount of Olives]."
From the Mount of Olives the "Shekinah" departed from this earth to later return to the Temple that was rebuilt under Zerubbabel, but before the arrival of Ezra and Nehemiah. The "Shekinah" remained in the Temple from this time through the enlarging of the Temple complex by Herod, and his subsequent improvements. This is borne out by a little known but awe-inspiring incident that occurred when Herod tried to tap into the tremendous wealth of King David's tomb in order to finance his grandiose plans to rebuild the Temple.
Writes Gary Arvidson: "So, how was Herod able to finance this and other projects? Toward the beginning of his great work 'all their sacred treasures were exhausted.' We are told in this same context that people around the world sent an abundance of money for the Temple project. But there were other funds to be raised. And Herod found ANOTHER SOURCE!" (In Search of King David's Tomb, part 1, p. 27).
Arvidson goes on to say: "What we are going to find is that Herod tapped David's sepulchre as a major resource for his great works...and as a consequence gained access to David's sepulchre to finance and decorate his empire. What had been amassed for the First Temple and laid aside by Solomon, was finally used for the Second Temple period" (ibid.).
The first-century A.D. Jewish historian and priest Josephus, records that "at this time he [Herod] opened the sepulchre by night, and went into it, and endeavoured that it should not be known in the city, but took only his faithful friends with him" (Antiquities 14.7.1).
Then begins the most unusual account of all. Herod was determined to explore the multi-room structure of David's tomb to the limits. Suddenly, a great miracle occurred --
"However, he [Herod] had a great desire to make a more diligent search, and to go further in, even as far as the very bodies of David and Solomon; WHERE TWO OF HIS GUARDS WERE SLAIN BY A FLAME that burst out upon those that went in, as the report was. So he was terribly affrightened, and went out, and built a propitiatory monument of that fright he had been in; and this of white stone, at the mouth of the sepulchre..." (Antiquities 14.7.1).
The physical "Shekinah" put the fear of YEHOVAH God in Herod and his surviving men and, frankly, "scared the hell" out of them!
YEHOVAH's "Shekinah" remained in the Temple all through the life and death of the Messiah and up to the year 66 A.D. -- when it was seen leaving the Temple and alighting on the Mount of Olives. Notice!
"There is also another reason why Christians in the first century were very interested in the Mount of Olives. This is because it was believed that the Shekinah Glory of God which supposedly dwelt inside the Holy of Holies at the Temple left the sanctuary and went to the Mount of Olives and hovered over that spot at the time of the Roman/Jewish War which ended in A.D. 70. The fact that the Shekinah Glory left the old Temple and migrated to the top of the Mount of Olives was an important event to Eusebius [church historian and scholar A.D. 260?-340?]" (Secrets of Golgotha, by Ernest L. Martin. 1988: ASK Publications, Alhambra, CA. p. 83).
In Eusebius' book Proof of the Gospel we find this passage --
"Believers in Christ congregate from all parts of the world, not as of old time because of the glory of Jerusalem, nor that they may worship in the ancient Temple at Jerusalem, but...that they may worship at the Mount of Olives opposite to the city, whither the glory [the Shekinah Glory] of the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH] migrated when it left the former city" (Book VI, Chapter 18 (288)).
According to Eusebius the "Shekinah" Glory left the Temple and hovered over the Mount of Olives during "the siege of Jerusalem" (66 A.D. to 70). However, Eusebius was not the only observer who mentioned that the "Shekinah" Glory left the Temple before the destruction of the Temple and hovered over the Mount of Olives. A Jewish rabbi named Jonathan -- who was an eyewitness to the destruction of Jerusalem -- said the "Shekinah" Glory left the Temple and for three and a half years
"abode on the MOUNT OF OLIVES hoping that Israel would repent, but they did not; while a Bet Kol [a supernatural voice from heaven] issued forth announcing, Return, O backsliding children [Jer. 3:14]. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you [Mal. 3:7], when they did not repent, it said, I WILL RETURN TO MY PLACE [Hosea 5:15] (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations 2:11)" (Secrets of Golgotha, by Ernest L. Martin. 84).
There was yet another writer who recorded the fact of the "Shekinah" presence of YEHOVAH God moving from the Temple in Jerusalem just before the war with the Romans. Josephus mentioned that in the Spring of 66 A.D. some astonishing events took place within the Temple. He recorded three miracles associated with YEHOVAH's "Shekinah" and the Temple -- and each one showed clearly that the "Shekinah" was departing from the Holy of Holies. In War VI, 290 he stated "that a GREAT LIGHT shone over the altar for thirty minutes at 3 o'clock in the morning (a week before Passover in A.D. 66) and then it DEPARTED. He said the sacred scribes interpreted this sign as a bad omen for the Temple. It was like the Shekinah Glory moving away from the Tabernacle in the wilderness as a sign to disassemble the Tabernacle and transport it to another location" (ibid.).
Josephus goes on to say that "a few days later (during Passover itself) the enormous brass gates of Nicanor, requiring twenty men to open and close them, opened at midnight of their own accord (War VI, 293-295). This was also interpreted as showing a desolation coming upon the Temple. And then, about fifty days later, on Pentecost, the final sign was given which definitely showed that the Shekinah Glory was departing the Temple as the other signs indicated (ibid.):
"Moreover, at the festival which is called Pentecost, the priests on entering the inner court of the Temple at nightfall, as their custom was in accomplishment of their ministrations, stated that they first became aware of a commotion and a roar, and after that the voice of a great multitude saying 'We are departing hence'" (War VI, 299).
When we couple Josephus' information with that of Rabbi Jonathan (also an eyewitness) we can see that the "Shekinah" went directly to the Mount of Olives and remained over the top of the mountain for 3 and 1/2 years -- from late Spring in 66 A.D to about December of 69 A.D, some eight months before the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. It then went back to heaven and had not returned to earth up to the time he wrote.
These miraculous events had much more significance to the early Christians than may meet the eye today. Eusebius, as we have just seen, mentioned the importance of this removal of the Shekinah glory. It was clearly a sign that YEHOVAH's physical presence had departed from the Temple on the western hill of Jerusalem and had retreated to the MOUNT OF OLIVES on the EAST as the new place of His divine residence. This event of the "Shekinah" glory leaving the Temple and residing on the Mount of Olives became highly significant to the early Christians because this is the mountain where YEHOVAH's holy "Shekinah" will RETURN in the near future!
Vision of the Temple That Might Have Been
Ezekiel, still in a vision, returned to the captives in Babylon and later saw yet another TEMPLE -- which is recorded in chapters 40-43 of his book. In his vision of this Temple, as it would have been if the House of Israel had repented of their national sins and returned to YEHOVAH God after they were taken into Assyrian captivity, Ezekiel saw the "Shekinah" RETURN to the Holy of Holies. Ezekiel states that this is THE SAME "Shekinah" he saw leave the Temple when he had the vision by the river Chebar --
"And behold, the glory ['Shekinah'] of the God of Israel came from THE WAY OF THE EAST [FROM THE MOUNT OF OLIVES]. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His ['Shekinah'] glory. It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw -- like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. And the glory of the LORD ['Cavod YHVH'] came into the Temple by way of the gate WHICH FACES TOWARD THE EAST. The spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD ['Cavod YHVH'] filled the Temple. Then I heard Him speaking to me from the Temple while a man stood beside me. And he said to me, 'Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell [shakan] in the midst of the children of Israel FOREVER. NO MORE shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places'" (Ezekiel 43:2-7).
This event, which Ezekiel experienced in vision, was never fulfilled because of Israel's unfaithfulness. (See our article, Ezekiel's Temple and Sacrifices: Will Temple Sacrifices Resume in the Millennium?) However, YEHOVAH God will return to a future Millennial Temple constructed by the Messiah after his arrival. This event is recorded in Zechariah 2 -- where YEHOVAH says:
"Sing, Jerusalem, and rejoice! For I have come to live [shakan] among you, says the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH]. AT THAT TIME [of the end] many nations will be converted to the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH], and they too shall be my people; I will live [shakan] among them all. Then you will know it was the LORD of Hosts [YEHOVAH, YHVH] who sent me to you....Be silent, all mankind before the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH]; FOR HE [IN THE FORM OF THE "SHEKINAH"] HAS COME TO EARTH FROM HEAVEN, FROM HIS HOLY HOME" (10-13).
The Golden Age to come, which Zechariah said was to follow the return of the "Shekinah" at the end of the age, describes the city and surrounding areas as being at peace in an age when people can grow old in a secure environment. To those who lived in Jerusalem, in the hearing of Zechariah, that would seem like a miracle -- so great was the desolation of the place. But of the conditions that would follow the RETURN of the "Shekinah" to the Temple at the end of the age, Zechariah records:
"Thus said the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH]: I have RETURNED TO ZION, and I will dwell [shakan] in Jerusalem....Thus said the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH] of hosts: There shall yet be old men and women in the squares of Jerusalem, each with a staff in hand because of their great age. And the squares of the city shall be crowded with boys and girls playing in the squares. Thus said the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH] of Hosts: Though it will seem impossible to the remnant of this people IN THOSE DAYS, shall it also be impossible to Me? -- declares the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH] of Hosts" (Zechariah 8:4-6).
Now what about the New Testament -- does the New Testament record the RETURN of YEHOVAH God's glory or "Shekinah" to this earth and to a NEW Temple in Jerusalem? Indeed it does, and in a passage that Christians (in their confusion) have taken to refer to the return of the Messiah for more than 1,700 years!! Incredible as it may seem, Satan has blinded millions over the centuries to the TRUE identity of the Person pictured in Revelation 19 --
"Then I heard what sounded like the roar of a huge crowd, like the sound of rushing waters, like loud peals of thunder, saying, 'Halleluyah! ADONAI [YEHOVAH, YHVH], GOD OF HEAVEN'S ARMIES, HAS BEGUN HIS REIGN!'....Then I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. Sitting on it was the one called FAITHFUL AND TRUE, and it is in righteousness that he passes judgment and goes to battle. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were MANY ROYAL CROWNS. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which he is called is, 'THE WORD OF GOD.' The ARMIES OF HEAVEN, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. And out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations -- 'He will rule them with a staff of iron.' It is he who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of ADONAI [YEHOVAH, YHVH], GOD OF HEAVEN'S ARMIES. And on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written: 'KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS'" (Verses 6, 11-16, Jewish New Testament).
YEHOVAH God the Father's future universal role on earth in the form of the physical "Shekinah" presence is a major theme of the Old Testament. Verse 6 above inaugurates YEHOVAH God the Father's Kingly reign on earth -- although its establishment requires several stages: first is the RETURN OF THE MESSIAH (YESHUA) in Revelation 14:14, the wedding feast of the Lamb (Yeshua) in Revelation 19:7-9, climaxed by the RETURN OF YEHOVAH'S SHEKINAH PRESENCE (Revelation 19:11-15); then Satan must be chained (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10), judgment must take place (Revelation 20:11-15), and only then does the Messiah actually rule as king and priest to his Father who resides in the new Third Temple in the form of the "Shekinah" presence.
In order for the wedding feast of the Lamb (Yeshua the Messiah) to take place, the Messiah must FIRST return to this earth -- NOT afterwards as would be the case if Revelation 19 referred to the Messiah's return!
In Titus 2:13 we are encouraged "to expect the blessed fulfillment of our CERTAIN HOPE, WHICH IS THE APPEARING OF THE SH'KHINAH OF OUR GREAT GOD AND the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah" (Jewish New Testament). Verses 11-16 of Revelation 19 describe this eagerly awaited (by the early Christians) "Second Coming" of God's (YEHOVAH's) holy "Shekinah" -- NOT the Second Coming of the Messiah as millions have blindly assumed!
The phrase "Faithful and True" in verse 11 has been correctly capitalized in all the translations I have seen, and denotes the ULTIMATE in faithfulness and truth -- which, of course, is YEHOVAH (YHVH) the Father. In Jeremiah 10:10 we read: "But the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH] is the true God [more correctly, "God of truth" -- Elohim emet]; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to abide His indignation." The "God of truth" in the above verse is not primarily the God who reveals eternal verities, but the God who can be trusted to keep His covenant. The RETURN of the "Shekinah" Glory will be the faithful REAPPEARANCE of Him who has already appeared among men -- this time He comes to bring the covenant promises to their final and full consummation.
In verses 12-13 of Revelation 19 we read -- "His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on his head were MANY ROYAL CROWNS. And he had a name written which no one knew but himself. He was wearing a robe that had been soaked in blood, and the name by which he is called is, 'THE WORD OF GOD.'"
The phrase "The Word of God" is thought by many to refer to Yeshua the Messiah -- and they try to link this phrase to the "logos" of John 1:1. However, there is absolutely NO justification for doing this. In fact, NOWHERE in the Bible does this phrase refer to Yeshua the Messiah! In most cases in the New Testament, "the word of God" refers to the message or words revealed through the writings of the Old Testament or Torah. However, and note this, there are a few passages in the Bible that indicate a DIRECT communication from YEHOVAH, through the "Shekinah," took place. Notice I Kings 12:22 --
"But THE WORD OF GOD came to Shemaiah, the man of God: 'Say to King Rehoboam son of Solomon of Judah, and to all the House of Judah and Benjamin and the rest of the people: Thus said the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH]: You shall not set out to make war on your kinsmen the Israelites. Let every man return to his home, for this thing has been brought about by Me.' They heeded THE WORD OF THE LORD [YEHOVAH] and turned back, in accordance with THE WORD OF THE LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH]" (The Tanakh).
Here "the word of God" is clearly identified with "the word of the LORD [YEHOVAH]," showing that "the word of God" is the SAME as "the word of the LORD" -- and is certainly indicated to be the "Shekinah" of the LORD [YEHOVAH] communicating with Shemaiah.
Similarly, in I Chronicles 17, we read: "But that same night THE WORD OF GOD came to Nathan: 'Go and say to My servant David: Thus said the LORD [YEHOVAH], YHVH]: You are not the one to build a house [Temple] for Me to dwell [shakan] in" (verses 3-4).
Once again, we find here that the phrase "THE WORD OF GOD" is associated with YEHOVAH and indicates that He is communicating to Nathan the prophet by means of His holy "Shekinah." In the New Testament we read where "the word of God" came to John the Baptist --
"Annas and Caiaphas being high priests, THE WORD OF GOD came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:
'The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the LORD [YEHOVAH, YHVH],
Make His paths straight.'"
Here we see that John the Baptist receives a direct communication from YEHOVAH God which tells him to "prepare the way of the LORD [YEHOVAH] -- thus linking the "word of God" with the One called YEHOVAH or YHVH.
In Revelation 19:13 the phrase "The Word of God" is capitalized in the original Greek, thereby indicating the Rider of the white horse to be the physical "Shekinah" representation of YEHOVAH God -- a component of the same "force" that directly communicated with Shemaiah, Nathan and John the Baptist.
In the first verses of the gospel of John in the New Testament we can find confirmation that the "Word of God" is, in fact, the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God. Since the publication of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 this, and almost all versions that have stemmed from it, have attached the masculine gender to the Greek concept of the "Logos" to explain the presence of the Shekinah Glory at the Creation. Unfortunately, due to this gender change, and the modern Christian's lack of understanding of the Logos concept in the environment of 1st. century Greek philosophy, most have blindly taken the "Word" to mean a pre-existence of Yeshua the Messiah! Nothing could be further from the truth!
Any one of the eight English translations of the Bible prior to 1611 (the Tyndale Bible (1535), the Matthew Bible (1535), the Taverner Bible (1539), the Great (Cranmer's) Bible (1539), the Whittingham Bible (1557), the Geneva Bible (1560) and Bishop's Bible (1568)) assign no gender to the "Word" and simply call it "it," such as in John 1:3: "By IT all things were made. Without IT nothing was made." The Coverdale Bible (1550) has "THE SAME" rather than "it." This seems like a strange way of referring to Yeshua the Messiah!
This is further reinforced by the Aramaic version of the Bible -- where the first verses of the gospel of John leave little doubt that the "Word" refers to YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory. Notice!
Verse 1: In the beginning [of creation] there was the MANIFESTATION; and that MANIFESTATION was with God [YEHOVAH]; and God [YEHOVAH] was [the embodiment of] that MANIFESTATION.
Verse 2: This [the MANIFESTATION] was in the beginning with God [YEHOVAH].
Verse 3: Everything was within his [more correctly, IT'S] power, [otherwise] nothing would ever exist.
Verse 4: Through him [it, the MANIFESTATION] was life and life became the spark of humanity.
Verse 5: And that [ensuing] fire [the MANIFESTATION] lights the darkness and darkness does not overshadow it [the MANIFESTATION].
This article has shown that the Shekinah Glory was the manifestation of YEHOVAH God the Father. If we replace the word "Manifestation" with the words "Shekinah Glory" in these verses of John, then we clearly see that "The Word of God" in Revelation 19:13 is none other than YEHOVAH'S Shekinah Glory!
Verse 1: In the beginning [of creation] there was the SHEKINAH GLORY; and that SHEKINAH GLORY was with God [YEHOVAH]; and God [YEHOVAH] was [the embodiment of] that SHEKINAH GLORY.
Verse 2: This [the SHEKINAH GLORY] was in the beginning with God [YEHOVAH].
Verse 3: Everything was within his [the SHEKINAH GLORY'S] power, [otherwise] nothing would ever exist.
Verse 4: Through him [it, the SHEKINAH GLORY] was life and life became the spark of humanity.
Verse 5: And that [ensuing] fire [the SHEKINAH GLORY] lights the darkness and darkness does not overshadow it [the SHEKINAH GLORY].
Of course, this is not to say that the translation of the book of John in the King James Version -- and all those that are based on it -- are wrong. It just means that we don't understand the idiom of John's day and we get all confused with the Greek concept of the Logos that John uses to get his point across. John nowhere indicates that this "Word" or "Logos" is anything else but the Shekinah Glory of Yehovah God.
Finally, in Revelation 1:2, "the Word of God" is clearly separated from Yeshua the Messiah -- notice!
"This is the revelation which God gave to Yeshua the Messiah, so that he could show his servants what must happen very soon. He communicated it by sending his angel to his servant Yochanan [John], who bore witness to THE WORD OF GOD AND to the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah...."
The next verse, verse 14 of Revelation 19, states that "the ARMIES OF HEAVEN, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him [Adonai, YEHOVAH (see verse 6)] on white horses." Throughout the New Testament the "armies of heaven" are ALWAYS associated with, and are commanded by, ADONAI -- who, according to the plain words of the apostle James is THE FATHER! "With it [the tongue] we bless ADONAI, THE FATHER; and with it we curse people, who were made in the image of God" (James 3:9) -- Jewish New Testament). Further, in Ephesians 1:3, this is echoed when Paul says -- "Praised be ADONAI, FATHER OF OUR LORD YESHUA THE MESSIAH..."
In Revelation 1:8 we find written: "I am the 'A' and the 'Z,'" says ADONAI [YEHOVAH, YHVH], God of HEAVEN'S ARMIES, the One [ADONAI] who is, who was AND WHO IS COMING." Again, in Revelation 4:8: "Holy, holy, holy is ADONAI, GOD OF HEAVEN'S ARMIES, the One who was, who is and who IS COMING." Also, in Revelation 11:16 -- "We thank you, ADONAI [YEHOVAH, YHVH], GOD OF HEAVEN'S ARMIES, the One who is and was, that you have taken your power [in the form of the "Shekinah"] AND HAVE BEGUN TO RULE [ON EARTH AFTER HIS COMING IN REVELATION 19].
I don't wish to seem redundant, but the One on the white horse leading the armies of heaven to this earth is YEHOVAH THE FATHER in His "Shekinah form -- NOT Yeshua the Messiah!
Moving now to verse 16 of Revelation 19, we read -- "And on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written: 'KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.'" These titles denote the ultimate in praise that can be bestowed and, therefore, must be titles of YEHOVAH God the Father. Throughout the New Testament the Messiah indicates that the Father was far GREATER than he -- see John 14:28 for example. Also, if we examine the original Greek for "King of kings and Lord of lords" we will quickly discover that the first "King" and the first "Lord" in this title both start with upper case letters -- showing Him to be the ULTIMATE "King" of all kings and the ULTIMATE "Lord" of all lords. Some argue that the Lamb (the Messiah) depicted in Revelation 17:14 also has these titles and must, as a result, be the Rider of the horse represented in Revelation 19. But, once again, if we closely examine the original Greek we will first of all find that the title is REVERSED from that in Revelation 19 and reads instead "lord of lords and king of kings." Then we will notice that the first "lord" and the first "king" of the title are lower case in the Greek -- showing that the Messiah was (as pictured here in Revelation 17:14) NOT the ultimate "lord of lords" or the ultimate "king of kings." He is a LOWER "lord of lords" and "king of kings," which entirely agrees with Yeshua's statement that his Father was greater than he.
The title in Revelation 19:16 expresses YEHOVAH (YHVH) THE FATHER'S rulership over all creation and all the kings and lords therein. It is equivalent to the phrase "King of kings of kings" which the Jewish Siddur (prayer book) applies to YHVH in this song which introduces the Sabbath in many Jewish homes --
"Welcome, ministering angels, messengers from the Most High, from the King of kings of kings, the HOLY ONE, blessed be he. Come in peace....bless me with peace,...go in peace...." (Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 840).
When we add all these proofs up, the clear and astounding TRUTH is that Revelation 19 pictures the glorious RETURN OF YEHOVAH GOD'S "SHEKINAH" PRESENCE to this earth to rule, with the Messiah directly under Him, from the new Third Temple in Jerusalem. May YEHOVAH God hasten that day!
So, what of the return of Yeshua the Messiah? If Revelation 19 depicts the "Shekinah" return to this earth, do the Scriptures elsewhere record the future event of the Messiah's Second Coming? They surely do -- in Revelation 10:1-7. Notice!
"Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. HE WAS DRESSED IN A CLOUD, with a RAINBOW over his head; his face was LIKE THE SUN, his legs like columns of fire; and he had a little scroll lying open in his hand. He planted his right foot ON THE SEA and his left foot ON THE LAND, and shouted in a voice as loud as THE ROAR OF A LION; and when he shouted, seven thunderclaps sounded with voices that spoke. When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say,
'Seal up the things the seven thunders said,
do not write them down!'
Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted his right hand toward heaven and swore by the One who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: THERE WILL BE NO MORE DELAY; on the contrary, in the days of the sound from the seventh angel when he sounds his shofar [trumpet], THE HIDDEN PLAN OF GOD WILL BE BROUGHT TO COMPLETION, the Good News as he proclaimed it to his servants the prophets."
This passage pictures the return of the Messiah -- NOT Revelation 19! The book of Acts in the New Testament verifies this, if we care to read it carefully:
"And after he [the Messiah] said these things, while they [the apostles] were looking on, he was lifted up and A CLOUD CAUGHT HIM UP FROM THEIR VISION. And as they were gazing into the sky while he was on his way, also, look! two men in white garments stood alongside them, and they said: 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was received up from you into the sky WILL COME THUS IN THE SAME MANNER AS YOU HAVE BEHELD HIM GOING INTO THE SKY'" (The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures).
Now HOW did the Messiah go up into the sky? Was he on a white horse? No! Did he have the armies of heaven with him? No! Was his robe soaked in blood and was he wearing MANY crowns? No! The simple truth is that "a cloud caught him up from their [the Apostles] vision" as he was lifted up into the sky, and Revelation 14:14 shows him RETURNING THE EXACT SAME WAY with one difference -- this time he is wearing the crown of rulership and bringing the saints with him!
Daniel 7:13 records the Messiah receiving this crown of rulership -- notice:
"I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man [Yeshua the Messiah], coming WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN! He came to the Ancient of Days [YEHOVAH, YHVH], and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him [the Messiah] was given DOMINION AND GLORY AND A KINGDOM, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed."
For centuries Christians -- and even the Churches of YEHOVAH God -- have been thoroughly confused over these two events and placed their hope and expectations and yearnings on the return of Yeshua the Messiah while relegating YEHOVAH (YHVH) and His return to the dust bin! While the return of Yeshua the Messiah is not to be minimized -- the FAR GREATER, earthshaking, awesome mind-reeling event is that of the "SHEKINAH" GLORY OF YEHOVAH GOD RETURNING TO THIS EARTH to reside and rule from the Temple in Jerusalem! THIS is the event pictured in Revelation 19! All the prophets of the Old Testament clearly predicted a visible, awesome, literal manifestation of the "Shekinah" Glory of YEHOVAH once again -- this we see in Revelation 19. For more exciting information regarding the return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah, read our article The Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Much too often Christians have allowed themselves to hastily read through the texts, all the while ASSUMING that when the prophets write of YEHOVAH Himself acting in decisive ways, they actually refer to His Messiah. How often have you heard preachers and ministers say that "when Jesus returns, his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives." Unfortunately, this is CARELESS AND UNSCHOLARLY exegesis. As you can plainly see, after reading all the texts I have laid out, the prophets ALWAYS maintain a CLEAR DISTINCTION between the DRAMATIC APPEARANCE of the LORD God (YHVH) in Revelation 19 and the coming of the Messiah in Revelation 10:1-7, and His subsequent rule UNDER YEHOVAH God.
The prophets understood this dramatic, personal intervention of YEHOVAH in history as a RETURN or "Second Coming." We read in Haggai that YEHOVAH God declares: "ONCE MORE in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land" (2:6). Isaiah clearly yearns for this time to arrive:
"Oh, that You would rend the heavens and COME DOWN, that the mountains might quake at Your ['Shekinah'] PRESENCE -- as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil -- to make Your name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your Presence! When You did awesome things which we did not expect, YOU DID COME DOWN, the mountains quaked at Thy ['Shekinah'] presence. For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, neither has the eye seen a God besides You, who acts in behalf of the one WHO WAITS FOR HIM" (Isaiah 64:1-4).
Also, in Isaiah 24, the prophet proclaims --
"Behold, YEHOVAH lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface, and scatters its inhabitants...They raise their voices, they shout for joy. They cry out from the west concerning the majesty of YEHOVAH. Therefore glorify YEHOVAH in the east, the name of YEHOVAH, the God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea...So it will happen IN THAT DAY, that YEHOVAH will punish the host of heaven, on high, and the kings of the earth, ON EARTH...Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, FOR YEHOVAH OF HOSTS WILL REIGN ON MOUNT ZION AND IN JERUSALEM, and His glory ['Shekinah' presence] will be before His elders...For behold, YEHOVAH IS ABOUT TO COME OUT FROM HIS PLACE to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; and the earth will reveal her bloodshed, and will no longer cover her slain" (Isaiah 24, selected verses).
The prophets were thinking back to the time of Moses and the unprecedented events at Mount Sinai, when YEHOVAH God dramatically judged the nation of Egypt and freed the Israelites from slavery. There, at Mt. Sinai, all Israel experienced the awesome, visible, dramatic, manifestation of the Presence (literally, "face") and GLORY OF YEHOVAH. Explains James Tabor, "The Torah is most explicit regarding this unprecedented experience. Nothing like this had ever happened before, or has happened since. YEHOVAH Himself appeared to the people in a fiery cloud-like pillar; they actually heard His voice and saw His Glory (Exodus 19:18-19; 20:18-21; 40:34-38; Numbers 14:14). The very purpose of the Tabernacle (literally, "dwelling place") was to provide a locus for this extraordinary manifestation of YEHOVAH" (The LORD (YHVH) God and His Messiah).
We have seen Ezekiel report that this Presence ("Glory") of YEHOVAH departed shortly before the Exile. Ezekiel understood this in the most LITERAL way -- actually describing the cloud-like "Shekinah" moving through the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem, up the Mount of Olives, and away (Ezekiel 10:18-19; 11:22-23). In Deuteronomy 31:17 this "departure" is called the "hiding of the Face of YEHOVAH." To fully understand this teaching of Scripture, I have endeavored to show the DISTINCTION between the general presence of YEHOVAH God (which is always with His creation) and this VERY SPECIFIC, literal, awesome, visible, manifestation of the Divine Glory or "Shekinah."
In that sense YEHOVAH God departed from this planet, and in that sense all the prophets (including John) tell of His return. In other words, they clearly point to and predict a visible, earthshaking, LITERAL, manifestation of the holy "Shekinah" (Glory of YEHOVAH) once again. For the righteous this will bring great rejoicing, but for all the wicked this will cause terror and the fear of judgment.
I have also tried to point out that the Scriptures show a definite focus on the EAST. On the EAST side of Jerusalem is the EASTERN gate of the Temple Mount, and EAST of that gate -- the Mount of Olives. From this sacred area the holy "Shekinah" (Glory of YEHOVAH) departed, and it is HERE that it will return. This clearly connects to the passage in Zechariah that predicts "on that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives" (14:4).
This area -- EAST from the Temple Mount and including the Mount of Olives -- is evidently the El Bethel (not the northern town of Bethel) where the patriarch Jacob had his vision of the ladder going up to heaven. He identified this place as awesome and sacred, and none other than the portal or "gate of heaven." Evidently Jacob was lying on the Temple Mount area and facing EAST, looking in his dream at the summit of the Mount of Olives (Genesis 28:17; 35:5-8).
YEHOVAH God the Father Himself will return to Zion in His Shekinah glory -- acting personally and directly to punish the wicked and rule as King over all nations. This is the day pictured in Revelation 19 -- that we should be waiting for with increasing expectations and excitement. Let's retrieve YEHOVAH GOD from the dust bin and give Him His rightful place in the scheme of things, as well as the greater praise and adoration that is His due -- not forgetting to stay awake for the earlier return of His Son and Servant Yeshua the Messiah.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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