Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and
the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Shemot / Exodus 40:34;
The manifest presence of God is a key component of biblical truth.
According to the Bible, God is not simply a philosophical concept. He
is an independent, self-defined, self-aware, active, responsive
relational being with personality. As a relational being, while
invisible, he isn't cut off from human beings. Rather, he has made
himself known and accessible to people. While God has revealed himself
in implicit, more subtle ways, through such things as creation, which
acts as material evidence for his existence and his creativity, he
also has done so in more explicit, dramatic ways, through prophetic
utterance and his manifest presence.
The Bible itself is the product of prophetic utterance. The most
obvious examples of this are the recorded words of the prophets
themselves as they spoke God's actual words to their hearers in their
day. Knowledge of God and his will is not determined by divination and
fortune telling, but by God's intimate communication through people.
This also applies to the entire Bible in that its authors wrote under
the authority of God's inspiration.
But God not only reveals himself through words, but also through
observable phenomena, whereby he, who is normally invisible and
nonphysical, makes himself known in some sort of physical way. The
Torah mentions such occurrences, including the burning bush (see
Shemot / Exodus 3:2-6) and thunder at Mt. Sinai (see Shemot / Exodus
19:19). God even manifests himself in human form on more than one
occasion. He comes in this way to Abraham to announce Isaac's birth,
to warn him about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (see
Bereshit / Genesis 18), and in his life-transforming wrestling match
with Jacob (see Bereshit / Genesis 32:22-32). That God would come in a
similar fashion in the Messiah should not surprise us.
During Israel's forty years of wilderness wanderings, God's
manifest presence guided and protected them through a pillar of fire
and cloud. When the Mishkan (English: Tabernacle), the center of
Israel's worship, the mobile precursor to the permanent Temple built
many years later, was completed, the cloud covered it and the kavod
(English: glory) of God filled it. Kavod is one of the ways the Torah
refers to God's manifest presence. Where God was to be worshipped, his
presence was really there. Note that this didn't occur until every
detail of the Mishkan's construction as given by God through Moses was
fully completed. It was only then that God's presence filled the
The filling of the Mishkan foreshadows a much greater event when
God's manifest presence would fill individuals as foretold by the
Hebrew prophet Joel:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my
Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see
visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will
pour out my Spirit (Joel 3:1-2; English: 2:28-29).
Joel speaks of a day when we could experience God from the inside
out due to the indwelling of his very presence through his Spirit. But
as in the construction of the Mishkan, every God-ordained detail
needed to be completed first. People could not be filled with God's
Spirit until we were made ready.
But we can be ready right now. For the Messiah has done everything
necessary in order that we can be filled with the glory of God. The
forgiveness of sins through Yeshua's sacrificial death and the newness
of life through his resurrection are all we need to be so filled. All
we need to do is turn to God and put our trust in Yeshua and what he
has done for us.
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