Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys
- Ex. 40:36–38
Artists have tried to depict it, film-makers have tried to capture it, and authors have tried to describe it, but meticulous as our efforts may be fully capturing the transcendent beauty of the Shekinah glory of God is out of reach. This had to be the most amazing sight in world history. By day, a huge cloud extending from heaven to earth and by night a towering fire of brilliant luminosity. The Bible states from the time Israel had been delivered from Egypt the cloud and fire of God's presence was with them, Ex. 13:22. Never during that time was the presence of God removed.
The word "Shekinah" comes from a Hebrew root, שכן, that means to abide, sit, dwell, or inhabit. It was here that God "tabernacled" among His people. It was here that He spoke with Moses and leveled judgments before the people. It was here that the people followed God. When the cloud moved they moved; when the cloud stopped they camped. He was an ever present source of help, power, provision, and sustenance.
The Bible tells us that Jesus also tabernacled among us. John 1:14 (NKJV) states, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." He also showed forth a glimpse of His glory when He was transfigured upon a mountain. Matthew 17:1-2 (NKJV) "Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; (2) and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light." Here is a glimpse of the glory of God the same Shekinah that Israel saw in the wilderness nearly 3500 years ago. Oh the beauty that is Jesus!
Think about it. This same Jesus who was transfigured in such stunning glory before Peter, James, and John, three of the apostles, the world crucified. God has shown Himself to humanity through Jesus Christ. His power has transformed the history of the world and will soon be seen again as He comes again with all the vengeance of a righteous judge: Isaiah 61:2-3 (NKJV) "To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, (3) To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." Again He states: Isaiah 63:4 (NKJV) "For the day of vengeance is in My heart, And the year of My redeemed has come."
When we picture the Shekinah glory of God what we see is a transcendent power that surpasses anything humanity can muster. He has the power both to save and to destroy, (Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5).
The author of Hebrews said it best:
Hebrews 10:30-31 NKJV " For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." (31) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
The question is: What will you do with Jesus? John 3:16