2 Chronicles 7:2-3: And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord's house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. When construction of the temple was finally finished under Solomon, God’s glory came down and filled it completely. His power was so strong even the priests could not enter, and the fire of God descended onto the building. The people were so mesmerized by the sight they immediately began to bow down and worship.
We would experience this at camp meetings years ago. The services would near an end, and the Holy Ghost would begin to fall. Events would come to a standstill. A hushed silence might sweep over the crowd, but that was merely the quiet before the storm. The atmosphere would change into one of anticipation: the glory was coming.
The Jews called it the Shekinah glory. The word derives from the Hebrew shekinot, loosely referring to “dwelling” or “a dwelling place.” The indication is that the Lord’s presence is not some distant, faraway and unreachable concept, but actually at times dwells with man. Shekinah was very important in ancient Hebrew teachings, being described as an overwhelming sweet spiritual essence that followed the Jews wherever they went. Exodus 13:21: And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.
The heavenly music would begin to spill softly from the instruments. We might hear “Oh I Want to See Him,” or “I Surrender All,” or some other hymn that would seem to invite the Spirit to move in deeper. People, numbering in the hundreds or sometimes thousands, would stand all over. We were all bound by our common beliefs. We believed in the blood of Jesus. We desired the Holy Ghost. And we all believed in living free from sin. And because of that unity in mind and spirit, God’s hands were untied and He was able to move. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).
God does everything in a complete way, and leaves nothing undone. Ephesians 3:19: And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. When His glory filled the temple, it filled every corner of every room. His presence was so powerful in the temple that the people could only stay outside and admire the sight of it.
But we did not stand outside of His glory looking in, but were invited to come and be immersed in it. It would cover everyone and everything. The people became anointed. Their clothes became anointed. The pews and light fixtures and carpets became anointed. The flowers and ferns adorning the altar became anointed. And the pastor or evangelist only lifted his hands, not as a sign of might but of surrender. This man standing high on a stage over everyone else could only stand back and be in awe of the glory that was beginning to fall as people would make their ways to the altars.
The way we think of Shekinah is a little different from the original meaning. We envision some sort of mythical ethereal halo of light emanating around God, but the word “glory” in Hebrew was actually kavod, which more accurately translates to “weight” or “heaviness.” It wasn’t a metaphysical spiritual concept, but a reality with weight and dimension. To be near God isn’t to just feel His presence, but to experience the weight and reality of Him. He was not an invisible being watching the Jews form a distance, but a living reality to them.
The glory fell. All around the altar, we could close our eyes and feel God Himself standing in front of us. The prayers of the people went up, and suddenly, the beautiful sound of God’s people shouting in tongues filled the room until it reverberated from the walls and ceilings. As we lifted our hands, we could feel streams of His power pouring from heaven like rivers, flowing through our arms into our souls like antennae receiving signals from above.
Isaiah 10:27: And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing. The anointing was as powerful in the Old Testament as it is today, and the Lord promised His people that the glory would destroy the yokes of bondage that their enemies placed on their necks.
Our praises together created a sound that contained God Himself. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel (Psalm 22:3). Some shouted in the Holy Ghost, some prayed aloud, and some sang, and we were in the very atmosphere of Heaven. It seemed only one step, and we would cross over into that eternal city. This experience is as close as we can get to Heaven on Earth. Jesus’ presence was so strong in our midst, one could reach out and touch His robe as he passed by.
The temple was destroyed by Babylon in 597 B.C., and the Jewish people went into exile. After more than 70 years of darkness, they were allowed to return to their homeland and rebuild their city, and Ezra recounted that when reconstruction on the temple began, the glory fell. Ezra 3:11: And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. This was the voice of the younger generation, but the older generation, who remembered the first temple, began to weep for joy and shout, until the voices of the two merged into one and were indistinguishable. So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off (verse 13).
Salvation, the Holy Ghost, and miracles and healings would fall like drops of rain, with no way to count them all. And even after the service was over and most of us had left, some lingered on into the night, seeking God. Maybe they would not leave until they’d found Him, or maybe they simply couldn’t stand to leave this place where His presence was. But there was no question that God had been there, because no soul at that camp meeting that night left unchanged.
We tell stories of these great moves of God that transpired years ago, and resign our heads in defeat at how God “just doesn’t move like that” anymore. But God has not changed. We forget that He was pouring out His Shekinah glory thousands of years ago, even at a time before Jesus came. God can move and can shake this Earth even greater today than He did back then, and He can use us to do it. Are we willing?
In the temple, the Holiest of Holies was the innermost chamber where the presence of God dwelt on the earth. Only the high priest was allowed to enter this room, and even he was only allowed once every year. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: (Hebrews 9:7).
The New Testament Age brought the upper room experience. Acts 1:13: And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room…And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting (2:1-2). The wind was His Shekinah glory, all around them, and through them, and binding them together. Then the Holy Ghost came. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (verses 3-4).
In the temple, the Shekinah glory was restricted, but in the upper room, it was given to everyone, until it spilled out of the room, and then into the streets. It was poured out upon thousands , because one building was no longer enough to contain His glory. Verse 41: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. That would seem miraculous, but it was only the beginning: the next day, more than that were saved, and then more than that. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (verse 47).
Every church must be the house of God, and every child of God His temple. The Shekinah glory fills our churches, and our innermost beings, completely. And we are not enough to hold it back; it is to be poured out onto the world by us continually. God has created each of us as vessels to pour out His glory. 2 Corinthians 4:7: But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.