Part 4

August 30, 2020


Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”


During last week’s Teen Tree of Life, we were in the midst of studying the background behind the verses in LUK 1:8-10 (New International Reader’s Version): One day Zacharias’s group was on duty. He was serving as a priest in God’s temple. He happened to be chosen, in the usual way, to go into the temple of the Lord. There he was supposed to burn incense. The time came for this to be done. All who had gathered to worship were praying outside.


We were just at the point at which Zacharias was waiting for a special signal which would indicate that the time had come for him to step forward to spread the incense on the Temple’s Altar. Once he burned the incense, a cloud of smoke would begin to form and move upward in the Holy Place.


While Zacharias was inside, the congregation remained outside, waiting in prayer. Sometimes the congregation would break out into spontaneous song, singing while awaiting the priest’s return. No priest stayed inside the temple long because it would be considered the wrong thing to do in this very sacred place of the Shekinah Glory of God.


Now, let us learn about the Shekinah Glory of God. The word Shekinah comes from the Hebrew noun “shakan” which means to dwell. It refers to the fact that Jesus Christ indwelt certain sacred buildings in Israel. Shekinah is a technical word coined by the Rabbis. They created it to speak of God as dwelling among His people. Shekinah was also used to express the invisible presence of God with Israel. The word Glory is the Hebrew Biblical word “kabodh” which was used for the visible manifestations of Jesus Christ.


The word Shekinah itself represents the invisibility of Christ, the God of Israel, indwelling three sacred buildings during the age of Israel – the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, and Zerubbabel’s Temple. And Glory represents the visible manifestation, such as a cloud above the Tabernacle by day and a pillar of fire by night, so that the Jews could always tell when Jesus Christ was present in the Tabernacle.


So, Jesus Christ, the Shekinah Glory of Israel, lived in the Holy of Holies. This is taught in LEV 26:11-12 (The New International Reader’s Version): I will live among you. I will not turn away from you. I will walk among you. I will be your God. And you will be my people.

The apostle Paul quoted the second half of this Scripture in 2COR 6:16 (The New International Reader’s Version) to explain what it means for the church to be God’s Temple, His dwelling place: How can the temple of the true God and the statues of other gods agree? We are the temple of the living God. God has said, “I will live with them. I will walk among them. I will be their God. And they will be my people.” In the Church-Age, in which we live, every believer is The Holy Temple of God. This is taught in 1CO 3:16 (The New International Reader’s Version): Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple? Don’t you know that God’s Spirit lives among you?


The first biblical account of Shekinah Glory is recorded in Exodus after the Israelites had left the shackles of slavery in Egypt. God appeared to them as a pillar of cloud and fire as they were camped at Etham: The people left Sukkoth. They camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day, the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud. It guided them on their way. At night he led them with a pillar of fire. It gave them light. So, they could travel by day or at night. The pillar of cloud did not leave its place in front of the people during the day. And the pillar of fire did not leave its place at night. (EX 13:20-22 New International Reader’s Version) Imagine what it was like back then!!


Today, The Lord Jesus Christ is at the Right Hand of The Father where we cannot see Him until we go to Heaven; but in the meantime, He also indwells our bodies, invisibly.

Just like the Jews could not see the Shekinah Glory in the Old Testament but could see a manifestation of His Presence, we can reveal the Shekinah Glory or The Indwelling of Christ to the world and to each other through our body, the temple of the living God.


Now, let’s get back to Zacharias who is inside the temple, waiting for a special signal which will indicate that the time has come for him to step forward to spread the incense on the altar. And remember – no priest stayed inside the temple long because it would be considered wrong to linger in this very sacred place of the Shekinah Glory of God. But Zacharias stayed there for quite a while. He would have bowed down in prayer and then reverently left the Holy Place, except that a wondrous sight met his eyes: It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear. (LUK 1:11-12 The Message Bible)


There are two angels who are given names in The Bible: Michael and Gabriel. The one who appeared to Zacharias was Gabriel, the Messenger Angel. Gabriel is the angel who will come again, in the near future, to bring a message to Mary. (She had no idea that she would be visited by the same angel as Zacharias!) Gabriel is also the same angel who visited Daniel centuries ago: “While I was pouring out my heart, baring my sins and the sins of my people Israel, praying my life out before my God, interceding for the holy mountain of my God—while I was absorbed in this praying, the humanlike Gabriel, the one I had seen in an earlier vision, approached me, flying in like a bird about the time of evening worship. He stood before me and said, ‘Daniel, I have come to make things plain to you. You had no sooner started your prayer when the answer was given. And now I’m here to deliver the answer to you. You are much loved!’” (DAN 9:20-23 The Message Bible) Here’s the cool thing about angels: limitations of space and time do not affect these supernatural beings. This means they can go anywhere and very quickly!


Like any person on earth would be, Zacharias “was paralyzed in fear” when he saw the angel. But you must understand that God had a Plan and He wanted to get Zacharias’ attention. And this is what happened next: But the angel reassured him, “Do not fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You are going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He will achieve great stature with God. (LUK 1:13-15 The Message Bible) Now picture what is going on here!! How would you react, especially when the angel says your name??? Zacharias just stood there and stared. He did not run. He did not scream. Would you have?


We already know that Zacharias was a great believer with strong faith. This, no doubt, factored in to why he stayed. The lesson here is that we need to think “vertically.” Think about what vertical means: up and down; earth to Heaven. We need to do what Paul advises in COL 3:2 (The Message Bible): So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Do not shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that is where the action is. See things from his perspective.


Do not limit yourself by thinking “horizontally” – “eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.” Thinking horizontally means you have got your eyes on the things of the world – Satan’s lies. You need to take the apostle John’s advice: Do not love the world’s ways. Do not love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. (1JO 2:15-17 The Message Bible)

{to be continued}

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