Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Shekinah Dwelling (Part 2)

Read Part 1
Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
King Jesus the Messiah is the Word who became flesh and tabernacled among us, manifesting the divine presence, the dwelling place of the shekinah glory of God. Since then, He has ascended, in His body, to the right hand of the Father, where He now rules over heaven and earth forever. But what of the shekinah, the glory of the divine presence?

In the Old Testament, the dwelling place God chose to manifest His presence was the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, then the Tent of David, and finally, the Temple in Jerusalem. With the sacrifice of Messiah Jesus for our sins, the temple system of burnt offerings and sacrifices, which served as a type or foreshadow, was fulfilled, and the temple itself was rendered obsolete. This was one of the points the author of Hebrews emphasized:
The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing … But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. (Hebrews 9:8, 11)
Jesus came as the mediator of a new covenant, the one foretold by Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:25-27), in which God would write His law upon our hearts and place His Spirit within us. This required a temple not made with human hands.

But God has not left Himself without a place to manifest His presence, His shekinah, on earth. The apostles teach us that there remains yet a temple on earth, a dwelling place where God has chosen to reveal His glory. It is not a temple of wood and stone, but a temple made without hands. It is the people of God themselves. The apostle Paul says,
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
Again, Paul says, quoting Ezekiel,
For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)
Those who have received King Jesus the Messiah are now the temple of God, because He has placed His Spirit in us, just as He promised in Ezekiel. Collectively, as a people, we are the place where God dwells on earth. But even individually, we are, each one, the temple of God. He dwells in our bodies as well as our spirits:
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
The apostle Peter likewise understood his own body to be a tabernacle, or tent.
Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. (2 Peter 1:13-14)
The Greek word for “tent” here is skenoma, which is used of the divine dwelling. And indeed, that is how Peter would be thinking of it here, fully aware, as he wrote just a few verses earlier, of the “exceedingly great and precious promises” God has given us and that those who belong to Jesus the Messiah have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

God’s promise of a new covenant and a new temple was not just for the Jews but also for all the nations. In his letter to the believers at Ephesus, Paul speaks to both the Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus:
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Paul makes the point again in Colossians: Jesus the Messiah comes to dwell in believing Gentiles as well as believing Jews.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
Messiah — God, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us — now dwells in us. Paul calls it “the hope of glory.” The Greek word for “hope,” speaks of a positive expectation, a joyful anticipation. Surely, the glory of God’s presence dwelling in us is the shekinah. Because King Jesus the Messiah dwells in us by His Spirit, we can expect and anticipate the shekinah glory of God to be made known in us, to us and through us.

(For more about this glory manifesting, see The Shadow of Glory.)