Day 98—Glory, Glory, Glory!!!—“Containing God” 2 Chronicles 5:2 – 9: 31
April 8, 2021, 7:55 AM

Day 98—Glory, Glory, Glory!!!—“Containing God” 2 Chronicles 5:2 – 9: 31

First of all—their titleàContaining God? Really? I understand what they mean because they are referring to the glory of God settling and residing in the Temple. Right. Yes. God is certainly present in a specific way, but I almost feel like saying that God is ‘contained’ is blasphemy, yet this was the only way that David, Solomon and the people of God knew God to be present, and it must have been an awe-inspiring moment when, as it reads in 2 Chronicles 7: “And the glory of the LORD filled the Temple. The priests could not enter the house of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house.”

The Hebrew word KBD, or kabod, is the word used in Hebrew to refer to God’s glory. It is used nearly 200 times in the Hebrew scriptures from Leviticus through the prophets, and it has a curious meaning.

Kabod means heaviness or weight, strength or power. In both places where glory is used in the quote above, the Hebrew word is kabod (Pron: kuh-bode—rhymes with ‘abode’). I love that definition because it gives the glory of God substance. We may think of glory as light or smoke or something bright, but it is also a great weight with great strength. The people fall on their faces before this glory because they are aware of the power and strength of God.

Kabod also refers to God’s magnificence, God’s splendor, and it was a specific way that God could be perceived by the people. The challenge of this is that this presence can also leave the people, as we will read in 1 Samuel. Remember ‘Ichabod’—a name which means ‘without glory’? He was named after the Ark of the Covenant was lost to the Philistines, thus the glory of God had gone from God’s people. We will read about God’s glory departing again in the prophet Ezekiel.

We sometimes hear another word used for God’s glory—shekinah. In evangelical circles, conversations about God’s ‘shekinah glory’ are frequent, but the word shekinah is never used in the scriptures, but was created by rabbis to talk specifically about God’s presence in these supernatural/natural ways. What do I mean? God was perceivable—God’s kabod could be seen in some way as a pillar of fire or as a smokiness or haziness, or as a cloud. So the presence of God was able to be seen or felt in a particular way, but it also surpassed the normal way those things are experienced.

For example, lots of us have fires in our fireplaces or firepits or we may have bonfires in the summer. We see the brightness, but we have no ‘extra-sensory’ awareness of the fire as being the presence of God. As Christians we don’t need to have that gift of perception either, because we believe that the Spirit of God is always, always with us—Emmanuel means ‘God with us”. This is the gift Jesus gave us at Pentecost—the power of the Spirit present with his people.

Shekinah glory—or shekinah kabod—is an overwhelming, physical awareness of God’s presence with the Chosen people. This Presence told them that they were in God’s favor, that they had built a Temple that pleased God, that God would now dwell with the people in the Temple, and that the priests could offer sacrifices—once they were able to get in the Temple!

Remember that the presence of God was centered in the Ark of the Covenant—in other words God dwelt among his people as Law, as Covenant, as Light, as Power, as Presence.

The Temple was the central place where this was experienced by the people of God. The exile in 586-7 BCE robbed the people of their central place of worship and led to the creation of the synagogue—which means ‘place of assembly’. Some Jews are careful not to call the synagogue the temple because they believe it profanes the stature of the original Temple of Solomon, and it speaks of the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Messiah will come when the Temple is finally rebuilt, which has not yet happened.

A reminder also that when the Temple of Solomon was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian occupation,  the Ark of the Covenant disappeared forever, and the practice of animal sacrifice then stopped. But the exiles needed places to gather, to pray and to worship, and they created places in the midst of ‘strange lands’ to do that—beith k’nesseth (houses of assembly) or as we would refer to them, synagogues.

The glory of God, the kabod or shekinah glory, is not centered in these synagogues, and I need to do more research to find out where modern Jews experience the glory of God. One article suggested that wisdom is the glory of God in modern times, but that’s a sort of general idea that makes me ask more questions.

Well, I did not start out to write about glory, but I now know much more about it! When God leads me down the garden path under my metaphorical fig tree, I do not always know where we will land. Today we landed, together,  in the land of glory.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,

ML



Comments

04-08-2021 at 9:09 AM
Joyce Caputo
Explains a lot. Thank you!
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