Throughout the pages of the Bible, one can find stories of a strange light, an unexplainable source of energy. At the east gate of Eden, it was called a flaming sword (Genesis 3:24). On the top of Mount Sinai, it was a burning bush that was not consumed (Exodus 3:2).
It was a pillar of cloud by day, but a pillar of fire by night that led the children of Israel through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21). It is called the “Shekinah Glory.”
The flaming sword at the east gate of Eden could have been a primitive description of that which was neither fire nor sword. Just as the Shekinah Glory rested above the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant between the two cherubim, even so, the flaming sword rested atop the altar at the east gate of the Garden of Eden – also between two cherubim, to guard the way to the Tree of Life. Perhaps it was there, each year, that man would come to offer a sacrifice for the atonement of sins.
Perhaps Cain and Abel brought their sacrifices to the eastern gate of the Garden of Eden to offer them upon the altar.
Fire from Heaven
The flaming sword or Shekinah Glory represented the presence of God among men. The fire of the altar also represented the Shekinah, for the Bible has described the consuming fire upon the altar as having come from heaven.
When Elijah called fire down from heaven in the presence of the prophets of Baal, the fire consumed the sacrifice.
In the book of Judges, the story is recorded of Manoah and his wife who received a visit from an angel. The angel promised them a son, Samson, the thirteenth judge of Israel. Manoah offered a lamb as a sacrifice upon the rock to the Lord. According to the scripture, the angel stepped into the flame and ascended into heaven.
The Shekinah Glory contains at least two basic properties – One: the ability to destroy; and Two: the ability to preserve. When Moses saw the burning bush on Mount Sinai, he described the bush as not being consumed.
Yet, in the days of David when the Shekinah Glory hovered above the Ark of the Covenant, a man by the name of Uzzah touched the ark and died immediately (2 Samuel 6:7).
Moses spent 40 days in the presence of God atop Mount Sinai. When he descended, the scriptures described his face as glowing – shining with the glory of God. In fact, he had to veil his face, for the Jewish people feared his presence.
On the other hand, when the tabernacle was completed and the day for its dedication arrived, the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle until Moses could not enter, so great was this strange energy source.
During the days of the Old Testament, the story is given of the capture of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistines. When the Philistine army brought the Ark of the Covenant into the temple of their idol god Dagon, the Shekinah Glory within the ark began to do a dreadful work.
The Philistines began to feel sick. They developed what we might describe as some kind of cancerous growth – “emerods,” the Bible says. Could it be the result of some kind of radiation poisoning? The ark was moved from one Philistine city to the other with the same results.
Finally, the ark was moved outside of town, to a field. The Bible says that mice began to come up out of the ground and invade the fields of the Philistines. Perhaps this strange radiation was penetrating the soil, and the mice could not stand it.
Finally, the Philistines sent the Ark of the Covenant back into home territory pulled on a cart by two milk cows. The cart with the ark came to rest in a field near Beth-shemesh in the valley of Sharon. The men of Beth-shemesh gathered around the ark and, being filled with curiosity, lifted the lid to look inside. (I Samuel 6:19).
That act of folly was so severe thousands died. The Shekinah Glory, then, must evidently be some kind of radiant energy, perhaps nuclear in nature.
The psalmist wrote in Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God.” By that, he meant that the stars in the heavens above declare the Shekinah Glory.
In recent years scientists have discovered that those stars are made up of radiant energy, nuclear in nature. In fact, the stars are actually giant suns identical to the sun which governs our universe.
The sun, 93 million miles away is a continual ball of fire. From its distance, it brings warmth and light to an otherwise cold and lifeless planet. Yet, if it were any closer its warmth would become a devastating heat destroying the very life it now nurtures.
The sun, according to Psalm 19, is as “a bridegroom traveling through his chambers.” It is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We are reminded in the first chapter of John’s gospel, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”
Again, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” And again, the Bible says, “…our God is a consuming fire.”
Now, what does this teach us? First of all, it is easy to see how early man would think that God lives in the sun or that the sun was God. Hence, early man became a sun worshipper.
What is Fire?
We believe that the sun is a type of the Shekinah Glory, but perhaps it is the Shekinah Glory. Our scientific age has brought us the knowledge of the elements – from the gases to the solids. There is hydrogen, helium, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. There are the solids of gold, silver, etc. Over 100 elements have been discovered.
But what is fire? You would think that in our enlightened scientific age, science would be able to define it, for definitions have been offered for the elements.
But fire is not an element. It is the only single influence in this world which is not of this world. It is not an element. It is not a combination of elements. In fact, it defies definition. Scientists have coined the word “energy,” but that, at best, is a feeble description.
We know that fire is akin to light, and light is made up of frequencies just as sound waves are made up of frequencies. But again, ultimately, we do not have the answers to those many questions about that strange light referred to in the Bible as the Shekinah Glory. Nor do we understand those related discoveries of radio waves and light waves, even x-rays and gamma rays.
It all appears to be a part of this fantastic energy source God has called the Shekinah Glory.
If the Shekinah is akin to none of these, then we are back where we started. If fire is only a description of God’s Glory, it may at least be related. There are too many descriptions in the Bible of the Shekinah Glory as an energy source for it not to be related in some way to fire.
In the book of Daniel, the story is given of Shadrach, Meshach, and Aded-nego and their encounter with the fiery furnace. The fire was so hot, the soldiers who cast the three Hebrew boys into the fiery furnace were consumed by the intense heat.
However, the heat had no effect upon the bodies of those three believers. The same fire that consumed the soldiers preserved the three Jews. When the king looked into the furnace, he saw not three, but four men walking in the midst of the fire. According to the scripture, “…the fourth was like unto the Son of God.”
Shekinah Glory Described
There are many accounts in the Bible that describe the Shekinah Glory. On the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus met with Moses and Elijah. A cloud covered the mountain, and the Savior radiated brighter than the noonday sun.
On the day of Pentecost tongues like as of fire set upon each of the believers.
On the road to Damascus Saul of Tarsus was engulfed by a shaft of light, and he fell to the earth. His eyes were blinded for three days. They were burned so severely that scabs formed over his eyes. It is as if he had given a prolonged gaze into the brilliant light of an arc welder.
On the morning of the resurrection, the angel of the Lord descended from heaven. In Matthew 28:2 he is described as having a countenance like lightning. Yes, the Shekinah Glory is described as a brilliant light.
Source of Life
The Shekinah is also described as a “life” source. According to John’s gospel, chapter 1, “In him was life, and this life was the light of men.” There seem to be two life sources in this universe. One is liquid and the other is light.
Plant life, animal life, and the life of humanity is sustained by liquid. Without it, we cannot live. But this life is temporal at best lasting only for a little while. However, there appears to be another life source in this universe about which we know very little. This life-producing light represents an eternal life source.
It is a life that will never end. Though it cannot be put in a test tube, and though it is beyond our ability to comprehend, it, nevertheless, is real.
If the Shroud of Turin is indeed the burial cloth of Christ, then the scorched image of the crucified man found in the fiber of the cloth may have been produced by a brilliant radiant energy of the Shekinah Glory. Resurrection power!
If the angel who descended from heaven to attend the resurrection had a countenance like lightning, then it is safe for us to assume that the resurrected Christ likewise had a countenance like lightning.
Perhaps the Shekinah Glory entering the body of Christ at the moment of resurrection photographed his features on the burial shroud from head to toe, for you see, the image of the crucified man on the Shroud of Turin is a photographic negative and could have been produced by a radiant burst of energy.
With the development of medical science, men have been able to measure some type of energy produced by the human body. Life is in the blood, and it either sustains or produces some sort of energy. The liquid coursing through our veins may be like water in a radiator – there to keep us cooled down, for this fire or life source produces a heat of 98.6 degrees.
Let me suggest that the life source confined within our flesh is an eternal life source. Though the flesh is temporal, our life is immortal. You will live somewhere forever.
Long after the heavens have rolled up like a scroll, you will be alive. Long after the stars have fallen out of their orbits, you will still exist. Ten thousand years from today, you will be somewhere. Ten million years from today, you will still exist, for you are made to live forever.
Some years ago, a physician published an article on the immortality of the soul, and he gave his personal experience. He said that he was monitoring the brain waves of a dying man. The man was a Christian and was rejoicing about the glories of heaven.
As the man died the instruments measuring the brain wave emissions indicated an extremely positive response. In fact, the needle on the meter was pegged in the positive position.
Sometime later the physician was monitoring the brain waves of a sinner as he died in agony on his way to hell. At death, the physician noted an extremely negative response from the brain wave emissions. In fact, the needle on the meter was pegged in the extreme negative position.
Two life sources leaving two dying bodies, but one was positive and the other was negative. One appeared to have been given eternal life through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.
Though scientists cannot define this radiant energy (called the Shekinah Glory) they have nevertheless been able to monitor it and to measure it. In recent years scientific studies have been made of this unusual radiant energy. It is called the “Kirlian Effect.” It can be seen on film as sparks of fire jumping from the objects tested.
Dr. Thelma Moss of the University of California at Los Angeles gave the following report on the Kirlian Effect: “Non-organic objects photograph very differently from organic objects.
Coins have a steady corona; we get the illusion that there is movement going around it, but the actual corona itself is static and its boundaries fixed, whereas human beings show a remarkably different effect.
“For instance, a Kirlian photograph was taken of a right index finger on a pad. Around the finger, one could see brilliant flares, and the corona kept changing its pattern.”
Yes, sparks of fire emanating from the fingertips, and scientists have even speculated on its healing qualities when used in the laying on of hands.
Also, in another experiment, the scientific team took a leaf and measured its Kirlian effect. Then they cut the leaf in half and measured its Kirlian effect again. To their amazement, they found that though the top half of the leaf was gone, the Kirlian photograph outlined the entire leaf as if the top of the leaf were still there.
This radiant energy (which may be the real source of life) is not bound by physical properties. This may help to explain why Christians believe that life is not bound to the body. Though a man may lose a leg in Africa and an arm in South America, in heaven he will be whole.
We are reminded of the words of Jesus when He said, “Fear not them which can kill the body; they cannot kill the soul.” And further, He said, “Not a hair of your head will perish.”
What a glorious prospect is ours through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit who appeared on the day of Pentecost as “tongues like as of fire.” We can live forever, and we shall live in a perfect body – a body restored in youth, in vigor, in health, restored by this strange, mysterious radiant energy called “glory.”
Halo for Believers
The Shekinah Glory is also described in the Bible as an aura, a radiance, or a glow emanating from believers. That’s where the concept was developed for the halo. Artists, down through the centuries, have pictured the Shekinah Glory as a radiance drawn as a circle of light about the head or rays of light similar to the rays of the sun seen at sunset.
This radiance of glory has also been referred to as a charisma. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul challenged the believer not to be conformed to his world. He wrote, “…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The word “transformed” is the same word in the original language as the word “transfigured” used to describe the Savior when he met with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Yes, dear Christian, you have living within you the presence of God’s Shekinah Glory in the person of the Holy Spirit. In a similar way to the transfiguration of Christ, you can have a personal radiance – not so much seen as felt.
With the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding and directing your life, you can have about you a sweetness, a loveliness, a countenance of happiness, a glow of joy.
Glory of Jerusalem
Finally, in Revelation 21:11 the New Jerusalem is described as a city of light:
Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious…..”
In verse 23, he continued: “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.”
Lake of Fire
On the other hand, Revelation 20:15 speaks of another energy source. There, it is called a lake of fire. Could it also be a part of God’s Shekinah Glory?
In the War Scroll, found in the caves at Qumran, there is a description of the judgment of God: “The source of light becomes an eternal spring which does not run dry, and the sparks from it will all the children of error burn. And it becomes a fire which consumes all men of guilt, even unto annihilation.
According to ancient Jewish theology, the Shekinah Glory which gives light and life to the children of light also produces the eternal fire which will consume the foundations of the mountains. The heavens and the earth will one day be burned by fire, or perhaps we should say the Shekinah Glory.
Scientists have suggested the existence of black holes and white holes found in the universe. The white holes, they say, represent a source of positive energy emanating from the center of a galaxy.
But, they surmise, this energy may explode to the point that it becomes a black hole so powerful in its gravitational pull that it confines all light allowing none to escape. Could hell be like that for the unregenerate souls of men?
I often wondered why the Bible described hell as a lake of fire and at the same time as a place of outer darkness. Perhaps it is both. According to scientific theory, it could be both without contradiction.
The heavens declare the glory of God, but the ancient name for our modern Milky Way was the Lake of Fire.
You are an eternal, immortal soul destined to live somewhere forever. Without the regenerating experience of the Holy Spirit, you cannot stand the presence of God.
Perhaps that is why the Bible said, “…no man can see God and live.” Though the presence of God may become heaven to the believer, it may become hell to the unbeliever. If you are not a Christian and have not experienced the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, let me urge you to be saved today.
Salvation is only a prayer away. Pray and ask God to save you and forgive you for your sins. Jesus is willing right now to give you that regenerating power of the Holy Spirit – that Shekinah Glory. In an instant, He can make you ready for heaven.
You ask me to explain it? I can no more explain it than a scientist can put a definition to fire. He can only observe its effects. Though we may not be able to explain it, we know it’s real.
The Shekinah Glory! It is mysterious in its meaning; it defies definition, but it is glorious in its grandeur and magnificent in its majesty.