This will be a very important lesson in understanding the New Testament and its concepts. There has been much misunderstanding about these terms and it will be necessary to go over them with the proper concepts behind them. The Shekinah is the presence of God, the dwelling place of God, rest. The Ruach is the Holy Spirit, the power that was promised to a believer with certain manifestations These manifestations were seen as prophetic of the Kingdom of God. The Kivod is the radiance and the glory of God. We are going to look into each of these terms and to understand them in their context. These concepts will overlap into anything we discuss on this site, they are that important, so hang on, here we go!
When man sinned, he lost his “kedusha” (holiness, set apart status). The Shekinah comes from the root “sh’kan” which means to dwell and “sh’kin” which means neighbor. In Gen 3.8 we have “presence” translated from “pannay” which means “faces”, so these terms will be related. In 2 Cor 5.1-3 the see that the Shekinah would return to the people. The Shekinah departed when Adam sinned, along with the Ruach and Kivod, but we will deal with one at a time. It returned and manifested at times after that but it did not reside or “dwell” until after Yeshua. In Exo 19.1-11 we have the “cloud” and that was symbolic of the Shekinah (presence). In three days God would reveal himself and that was prophetic (Hos 6. 1-3).
Moses is seen as escorting the bride to meet the Lord at Sinai and this was a betrothal (Jer 2.2) and he was one of two witnesses. The other witness will be assigned to the groom and he was seen as Elijah. These constitute the two witnesses (Rom 3.21) in regards to the bride and bridegroom. John the Baptist said he was the “friend of the bridegroom” and he came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1.17). As a result of this meeting with the Lord, Moses receives plans for the Mishkan (see the “sh’kan” in the word?) and it will be placed in the center of the Israelite camp. But, while this was being built, a tent of meeting was used outside the camp. Moses would come and go, Joshua stayed there and the people were in tents. It was used for legal matters and judging.
Now in Exo 33 12-23 we have an example of some of these terms being used. In v 12 we have “favor” which is Chessed (grace) in Hebrew and this will allow Moses to have the “presence” (faces) of God go with him. The face of God will be a synonym for the Shekinah. In v 18 we have the “glory” and this will be our word Kivod. The Kivod (glory) came upon Moses in Exo 34.29-35 and his face radiated with it.
So, as you can see, you can have the Shekinah and the Kivod in the same place, or they can manifest differently. The Mishkan was the dwelling place of God in the midst of the camp and remember it comes from the word “sh’kin” which means neighbor. God becomes a neighbor of his people. God also gives the “avodah” or worship to be done in the Mishkan. These were primarily the Korbanot (offerings) and in Jewish thought, today’s services are not worship. They are meetings and assemblies, but not worship.
Praise in the Mishkan/Temple was seen as worship. Praise outside of the Mishkan/Temple is not considered worship (Rom 9.4). The purpose of the Mishkan remained unchanged all the way to Solomon. It was repaired several times and the building went from the skins to actual stone on the sides. The Beit Ha Mikdash (House of Kedusha) was built and went through many changes. Solomon’s went from small to large, with the same furniture. Then that was destroyed and Zerubbabel’s Temple was built and was smaller than Solomon’s, then revised by Herod and eventually called “Herod’s Temple” and it exceeded Solomon’s, but was destroyed in 70 AD.
There are two more Temple’s coming. The next one will be the Temple of Jacob’s Trouble and then after Yeshua returns a larger one will be built called “Ezekiel’s Temple” (Ezek 40-48). We have a progression from simple to complex. The purpose of the Temple and avodah was worship. God wanted to reveal his manifestations there and teach the people about the concept of kedusha. Because of our finite minds and physical bodies, God just didn’t come and say “here I am!” He divides his manifestations into different things and through thousands of people so that we can grasp it.
As revelation increased, the Temple increased. Biblically speaking, for us to understand what God wants us to understand, we must understand these Temples because they were living, breathing manifestations of God. Everything a worshipper senses is experienced and it teaches about the Lord. It reveals the spiritual things in everything you see, hear, feels, tastes and smells. What does that show us? This is a picture of what happens to a believer once you are “born again.
God will come into your Mishkan and you receive the Shekinah (presence) and that separates you from all else. Adam was the first Mishkan and had the fullness of the Shekinah, the Ruach and the Kivod. He lost them when he sinned but they are going to be restored through the Messiah. The whole earth will be filled with his Kivod. In Exo 40.34-38, the tent of meeting was done away with and the Mishkan was used. The cloud (Shekinah) and the glory (Kivod) filled it. In 1 Kings 8.1-3 they take the Ark of the Covenant to Solomon’s Temple and the Shekinah and Kivod fill the Temple (v 10-11). He then goes into a prayer and says that the Lord’s name will dwell there. He would listen to prayers from there, as evidenced by the Prophet Daniel (Dan 6.10). In Ezekiel 1 we have a vision of the Kivod of God (v 28). In Ezek 9.1-3 we have the Kivod departing the Temple because of idolatry (Ezek 8.1-18).
Eventually, that Temple was destroyed. The Kivod and Shekinah was manifested in the Mishkan and Solomon’s Temple. Zerubbabel and Ezra rebuild the Temple after the Babylonian Captivity, but there is no record that the Kivod and Shekinah indwelt that Temple. The only thing that was left was the foundation stone for the Ark in the Holy of Holies. But, when Messiah came and rose from the dead, the Shekinah, the Ruach and Kivod came and rested on the people who were gathered in the Temple on the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost-Acts 2).
Now, we have assigned our own meanings to many words in the Scriptures. But the Gospels and Epistles were written by Jews and so these words and concepts need to be understood as they knew them. The Ruach Ha Kodesh is the power of God (Acts 1.8). It is associated with God only and the power was conveyed by action on the part of God. The manifestations of the Holy Spirit are healing ; prophecy; tongues; interpretation of tongues; word of knowledge; word of wisdom; miracles; discernment of spirits and faith. These are not charismatic gifts but manifestations of the Ruach. Each are associated with actions of God and power. God does something and it is manifested in power.
Romans 12 has the “charismatic” gifts, which are given by God’s grace (Hebrew=chessed ,Greek= charis ). These are freely given by God and one is born with these. Everyone has at least one but don’t confuse these with the Ruach (power) gifts. We come along and believe in Yeshua, it is then that we receive the Shekinah (presence). The Ruach (power) comes at a separate time, although some have received it at the same time they believed, but that is not the norm.
In Hebrew thought, all these manifestations are looked at as prophecy. So, we need to understand a few points. The Kivod came and went, it did not indwell, the Shekinah did. In John 20.22 it says that the Lord breathed the Holy Spirit on the talmidim (disciples) but it was not the Ruach (that came later-Acts 2) but the Shekinah, the indwelling presence of God. Fifty days later the Ruach Ha Kodesh fell in power as they were gathered in the Temple on Shavuot. Both Shekinah and Ruach were translated as “pneuma” in Greek and it was confusing when you compared the two verses.
When the Lord says that he will never leave us or forsake us, he is talking about the Shekinah. In Matt 18 15-20 Yeshua is giving the talmidim authority to have a court (beit din) and when he says “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst” is talking about the Shekinah. It is not talking about prayer, but judgments you might have to make in a congregational, court setting (Deut 17.9-11; Matt 16.19; 23.1-3; 1 Cor 6.1-6). When the believers in the first century saw these things happening, remember they were raised in these concepts and expectations and they knew about being empowered by the Ruach. They couldn’t believe they were actually seeing this come to pass, not “what is going on, what is this!” The concepts they knew and the timing was perplexing, but they did expect it.
When believers in the first century received the Shekinah, the Ruach coming in power was expected. With those unfamiliar with these concepts, the Ruach didn’t happen for one reason or another (Acts 19.1-7). Today, false teaching, misunderstanding and being afraid keeps people from experiencing what should be a natural flow of events. Not knowing the difference between the Kivod and Shekinah and their concepts has really put trash in the river and slowed down the flow of living water to a trickle. What we need to do is pull out the trash so we can operate in fullness.
The Shekinah is a feminine word and in Hebrew thought it is the light that goes before the torch (Lapid= torch= is masculine in Hebrew). The Shekinah is used in Hebrew imagery as a bride, daughter and queen. God’s relationship with the bride is related with the Shekinah, who is called the bride (Rev 21.9-10). The union between man and wife is a picture of the union between God and man, teaching intimacy. When man receives the Shekinah, this union is holy and we are set apart to God (kedusha). Moses is a picture of Messiah, empowered by God, the Prophet; the deliverer. In Num 11.25 we have Moses taking seventy elders up to meet God. Then, the Spirit (Ruach) that was upon Moses was also put on the seventy, but it did not diminish what Moses had. Moses wanted everyone filled (Num 11.26-29) and this was seen as a prophecy of what was to come in the “Yom’ot Mashiach” or days of the Messiah, and it did. When you become a believer you receive the Shekinah. The Kivod (glory,radiance) can come and go. The Kivod can be felt (warm glow) and can be seen. Yeshua had this in its fullness since his birth. He had the Shekinah at conception and the Ruach when he was immersed by John.
In 1 John 4.12 we have the word “perfected” and this is a concept. The Urim and Thummim means “lights and perfections” and it was a manifestation upon the High Priest who had direct answers and revelation from the Lord using them. There is debate as to what these really were, but the High Priest could communicate with the Lord directly. God’s love would be seen as the light of God in us. The “perfect”(1 Cor 13.10) is related to the Messianic Kingdom with its “light” and “perfections.” Remember, whenever you see “spirit” you have to find out if it is Ruach or Shekinah because both words were translated with the Greek “pneuma.” Not knowing this simple fact has caused much confusion within some Christian denominations.
Some have read verses that say a believer has the Holy Spirit when they believe and others say it comes with power later, called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But, the Greek word “pneuma” was used for both words in Hebrew, and they were two different manifestations. A believer does not have the Holy Spirit at the new birth (Ruach), they have the indwelling presence of God (the Shekinah). By not seeing this, many believers thought they had the Ruach and short changed themselves, missing out on the power of God. You determine which word is applicable in a verse by how it’s used. If the Spirit is upon you and there is power, it’s the Ruach. If it’s in you, it’s the Shekinah. They are two different manifestations.
The word “clouds” is associated with the Shekinah and believers (Dan 7.13-15; Isa 60.8). In Hebrew, there are masculine and feminine words that describe the attributes of God, just like marriage. In John 1.2 we have “light” associated with “life” and the life is associated with the Kivod. Therefore, Kivod is associated with life and the life was the light of man. As a result, the Kivod is associated with the resurrection(life) and the transfiguration. That is why the Kivod was seen at the wedding in Cana (John 2.11). After six days Yeshua goes to this wedding and on the seventh day his glory is seen.
Eschatologically, after six thousand years there will be a resurrection in the seventh day, then a wedding. Miracles and the Kivod will be seen then, just like in John 2.1-11. What is a miracle? It is the manifestation of the Ruach (1 Cor 12.7-11) and through the manifestation, the Kivod is seen. When Yeshua was resurrected, the believers could now receive the Shekinah (John 20.22), the Ruach (Acts 1.8) and the Kivod (Acts 2). At Shavuot (Acts 2), some received all three at the same time.
In the Temple, there were things in the Holy Place that pictured these things. the “Shulchan ha Lechem Ha Pannim ” is called the “the Table of the Bread of the Faces (of God)” and symbolized the Shekinah. The Menorah symbolized the “light” or Kivod, and the Table of Incense also symbolized the Shekinah. We are the Temple of God and in the Messianic Kingdom (1 Cor 13.9-12) we will receive all these in their fullness. We will be resurrected (perfect) and see God face to face (presence=Shekinah), just like when the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies. He would put incense on the coals of the Altar and create a cloud, and the cloud was associated with the Shekinah. When Messiah would come, the people expected the Kingdom of Heaven (God) and the restoration of these manifestations. This is exactly what happened.
Today, we were to have congregations that were built along the model set in the Scriptures (see “First Century Congregations” this site). We were to have Zekanim (elders) with certain functions like apostle, prophet, evangelist pastor and teacher. You had other functionaries, but the members were all to be empowered by the Ruach (power). All the membership has charismatic gifts like charity, exhorting, teaching, prophecy, mercy and so on. The Zekanim were responsible to teach these, find them in the body and use their abilities for the benefit of all. Non-Jews could hold these offices as well. As the congregation meets together, the Shekinah will manifest among us and the Kivod will be there.
We should work towards being what God wants us to be and walking in his instruction. If we do things God’s way, we will have God results. As the Lord said, “for yours is the Kingdom (Shekinah), the power (Ruach) and the glory (Kivod) forever (L’Olam Va’ed) and ever (L’Olam Va’ed).