Shekinah Glory in the Next Temple
Commentary for July 15, 2005 — Will It Be Obvious? Will It Be Valid?
Question: We have just been studying Dr. Martin’s article on the “Two Witnesses, Who Are They?” When the witnesses restore all things in the Temple, will the Shekinah Glory enter into the Holy of Holies for those 3˝ years? Since the Bible speaks in duality of events, we wondered if the Glory would go back into the Holy of Holies, then depart once again when the witnesses are killed, perhaps with accompanying miracles, like what happened in 70 C.E.? Thanks for your answer.
Answer: These are two good questions. In my opinion, I do not think that the Shekinah glory will be within the Holy of Holies for the 3˝ years before Christ’s Second Advent. It will not be necessary, nor is it indicated in Scripture.
However, the Temple will be legitimate. The legitimacy of the Temple is not determined by whether or not the “Shekinah glory” is present or noticeable. There is no indication in the New Testament that God’s “glory” (doxa in Greek) is anywhere used in reference to the prophesied end-time Temple. Nor do I see any Old Testament prophetic evidence to indicate that. If you find evidence on that point and prove otherwise (and I know you have the skills to do so), I would be happy to be corrected. Until that time I see no biblical evidence regarding any Shekinah glory being in either the Zerubbabel Temple or the Herodian Temple.
Dr. Martin uses “Shekinah” to indicate the fire and cloud, and the glory of God interchangeably in his writings. That is certainly proper if everyone understands the context and meanings, and he uses them correctly. The Hebrew term Shekinah (which means “a visible manifestation of the divine presence” according to my American Heritage Dictionary) is a descriptive term derived from rabbinical sources. It is not a biblical term.
The Roman historian Josephus was a Levite, a priest, who, although most priests were Sadducees, identified himself as a Pharisee (Josephus, Life, 1:80). Josephus describes that around the time of the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans army in 70 C.E. a light appeared inside the Temple (Jewish Wars 6:290–291). That light did nothing except retain its brightness for a period of time during one of the festivals. It was not associated with any sound or voice.
Later Josephus described voices that were heard that said “We are departing from here, ” or in clearer English, “We are leaving.” Josephus nowhere stated that the voices came from within the Temple (Jewish Wars 6:300).
While I have no doubt the events reported by Josephus actually occurred, his statements are not sufficient evidence to conclude that a Shekinah glory (or the Glory of God) was inside the Temple, as evidence for God’s approval of that structure, operations, and the people of Israel at that time. In fact, Josephus explicitly state that these manifestations demonstrated God’s displeasure with the Jews and their administration of the Temple, and that these signs, among others, foretold doom for Jerusalem and the Temple (Jewish Wars 6:288, 291, 295–296, and 310). Note Josephus’ editorial comment:
“But these men interpreted some of these signals [signs] according to their own pleasure; and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city and their own destruction.”
Jewish Wars, 6:315
Let’s review some biblical occurrences of the “Glory of God.” An account of other instances is given by Dr. Martin in his article “The Expansion of Zion and Portability of Zion.” In that article Dr. Martin shows that “Zion” and “Shekinah” are used interchangeably in several contexts. He also gives several surprising accounts of where the Shekinah was in the past, and perhaps where it will be seen in the future.
In the Old Testament God’s glory was shown when fire from heaven came down to show God’s approval and acceptance. This occurred at the time of Solomon’s prayer to God at the dedication of the Temple in 2 Chronicles 7:1–3. Compare this with other instances in Genesis 15:17; Leviticus 9:23–24; 1 Kings 8:11, 18:24, 38; 2 Kings 1:1–16; and 1 Chronicles 21:26. Sometimes the fire from heaven was accompanied with a voice.
The “glory of the Lord” appeared to Ezekiel several times in vision: Ezekiel 1:28, 3:23, 10:4, 18–19, 11:23, 43:4–5, and 44:4. The entire earth will be filled with knowledge about the glory of the lord (Habakkuk 2:14). Indeed, “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1, 57:5, 11, 108:5). God’s glory can be heard (Psalm 29:3) and it can work in concealment (Proverbs 25:2). God’s glory appeared to Abraham, according to Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:2).
Other times God’s glory came down without fire being mentioned, although it is implied. This is because whenever a cloud appeared, fire was likely present such as at the time of the Exodus when the pillar of fire was visible at night and the cloud was visible during the day (c.f., 2 Chronicles 5:13–14, 7:1–3; Exodus 40:34–38; Numbers 9:15–16; and Ezekiel 10:4). Ezekiel “saw” and experienced the glory of God in vision in Ezekiel 8:4, 9:3, 10:19, 11:22, 43:1–12.
There are passages that make reference to God’s glory to the Temple after the destruction of the Solomonic Temple. Isaiah 35:2 states that the redeemed of Israel “shall see the glory of the Lord” when it is revealed to them (Isaiah 40:5). The prophecy of Isaiah 60:1–13 will likely be used by the antichrist to show his false legitimacy (among other verses), but the context applies to the time after the Second Advent of Christ. The descriptions in Haggai 1:8 and 2:7, 9 speak of the Herodian Temple. The glory of Zechariah chapter 2 also refers to the Herodian Temple where the glory is a reference to Christ, not the Shekinah Glory.
In the New Testament the term “glory” refers variously to God the Father, Christ, the ekklesia (as part of Christ’s body), or the vastly inferior dim glory of men and their kingdoms, but never to the Temple. The “glory of the Lord” appeared to the shepherds at the time of the birth of Christ (Luke 2:9).
Peter, James, and John saw Jesus surrounded by the glory of God at the time of the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–13), complete with a cloud and a voice speaking from the cloud (verse 5).
Sometimes the glory of God is quiet and invisible, yet powerful and present as when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead:
“Jesus said unto her, ‘Said I not unto you, that, if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?’”
Stephen saw God’s glory just before he was stoned to death (Acts 7:55). All humankind has come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In the Greek, the apostles James and Paul specifically call Jesus Christ “the Lord of the glory” (c.f., James 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:2, 8). To a lesser degree a man is in “the image and glory of God” (1 Corinthians 11:7), while “the woman is the glory of the man.” Through Christ we will have knowledge of that glory (1 Corinthians 4:6). Indeed you and I will each share in Christ’s glory:
“Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining [acquiring] of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 2:14
“Christ in us” is our hope of that glory (Colossians 1:27) into which we were called (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
The only mention of “glory” in the passage about the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:1–14) is when glory given “to the God in heaven” at the time when resurrection of the Two Witnesses occurs, at the same time that the voice from heaven is heard, and the earthquake occurs, all of which give validation to their mission. At the resurrection of the Two Witnesses, the voice announcing their resurrection comes from heaven, not from within the Temple.
“Another beast” will use fire from heaven (Revelation 13:13–14) to legitimize the presentation of the antichrist and the image of the Beast and falsely demonstrate God’s approval of their government and rule. It will likely occur in proximity of the Temple, and it will be claimed that Isaiah 60:1–13 has been fulfilled:
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceives them that dwell on the earth by those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.”
At the time of the last plagues the apostle John views “the smoke from the Glory of God” inside the heavenly Temple (Revelation 15:8). Of course, the New Jerusalem had the light of the Glory of God contained within it, which came from the Lamb of God (Revelation 21:11, 23).
From the foregoing there is no positive evidence of the Glory of God or as the Jews phrase it, the Shekinah Glory, being visible or having any manifestation within the Temple to exist before Christ’s Second advent. The Shekinah was not for those who believe God’s word, but for doubters, those who needed to be given a warning from God.
The next Temple will be legitimate just as the Herodian Temple was legitimate, in spite of the fact that a man of great evil (King Herod) initiated its construction and that it was operated by lawful but very unrighteous priests.
Christ’s presence and statements validated the Herodian Temple, not any outward manifestations. Several of Jesus’ statements also indicated that He considered the Herodian Temple to be legitimate. He was jealous of His Father’s House (Matthew 21:12–13). He taught in the Temple on several occasions (Matthew 21:23, 26:55). He healed inside the Temple (Matthew 21:14). He never criticized the Temple’s validity, even though He predicted its destruction.
The apostles continued to teach and pray at the Temple even after the death of James the Just. They considered the Temple to be valid and the place where God dwelt on earth. However, severe problems with the purity of the people that conducted services at the Herodian Temple were made clear. Read Stephen’s speech in Acts 7:1–53 to understand what those problems were.
We shall see what the future holds but remember this: the purpose of the Two Witnesses will be to legitimize and validate the next Temple, and its services. The Two Witnesses will have full authority — and power — to do so as part of the “restitution of all things.” There is no indication of any supernatural “approval” or fire from heaven that God will use to demonstrate that the coming Temple will be legitimate.
No one wants to seek after signs to show approval or legitimacy, not in regard to the Temple or anything else (Matthew 12:39). It may well be, however, that the world will seek such a sign of the Shekinah glory coming to earth, and that false sign may well be provided by the fire from heaven as a major sign of authority and divine approval (Revelation 13:13–14, 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10).
Apparently, the Two Witnesses will be successful up to a point, and then they will be strongly opposed. That opposition will make changes to Temple administration (such as the Gentiles being admitted to the Temple), the Two Witnesses will be killed, the Antichrist will seat himself in the Temple (2 Thessalonians 2:4), at which time he will perform the abomination of desolation (Daniel 11:31, 12:11; Matthew 24:15; and Mark 13:14).
After Jesus returns and opposition to His reign is put down, after some 70 years, construction will begin on the millennial Temple seen in vision by Ezekiel.
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