We often hear that God is omnipresent, meaning that he is everywhere. There is nowhere we can flee from his Presence (Psalm 139:7-12). The whole earth is full of his glory (Isaiah 6:3), the heavens declare his glory (Psalm 19:1) and he is not confined to any locale (1 Kings 8:27). While it's true that God is everywhere, Scripture often speaks of his Presence at various levels of intensity . God's holy Presence is "more acute, dangerous, and powerful" in some places than in others .
The Presence of God is bound up with his glory which is a visible manifestation of the divine Presence. God's Presence led Israel to Sinai in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13:21; 16:10). The Lord's glory then settled on Sinai, appearing as a consuming fire atop the mountain (Exodus 24:15-17). Moses, while on the mountain, received instructions for a tabernacle, a portable worship center at which Israel would host the glory of God wherever they camped. As the tabernacle went with Israel, God's Presence would go with them from Sinai to Canaan.
But after the golden calf incident, God decides to evict Israel from Sinai and not accompany them to Canaan. God's Presence, to the degree he had been with Israel before, would now pose a threat to them (Exodus 33:1-3). But Moses intercedes on behalf of Israel. So in deference to Moses, since he had found favor with God, the Lord relents, promising Moses, "My Presence will go with you..."(Exodus 33:14-17).
Moses, wanting further assurance, says to God, "Show me your glory" (Exodus 33:18). But God will do more than Moses asks, not only providing a visible manifestation, but saying to Moses, "I will cause my goodness to pass in front of you..." (Exodus 33:19). So the glory of God is now more broadly defined as his goodness . God, in revealing his goodness to Moses, also grants Moses' earlier request, "Teach me your ways" (Exodus 33:13). Moses wants to know just what he can expect from this God.
So God reveals himself as a "compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin..." (Exodus 34:6-7). While Moses gets a fuller exposure to God's glory than most, it is not a full exposure, equivalent to seeing God's face. No one survives seeing God's face, but for Moses to see God's back is nevertheless a fuller exposure to God's glory than usual (Exodus 33:20, 23).
God's glory continued to go with Israel, filling the tabernacle and later the temple (Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11). The glory of God's Presence is most intense in the inner most room of these structures, the Most Holy Place.
In time, however, God's glory withdraws from the temple due to Israel's national sins of idolatry and injustice (Ezekiel 9:3; 10:4-5, 18-19; 11:22-23). God's departure leaves Israel vulnerable to their enemies. The Babylonians destroy the temple and take the people captive. Israel rebuilds the temple upon return from captivity, but the intensity of glory does not return to the extent it had been present before.
God's gradual return to Jerusalem is evidenced by the Holy Spirit's activity among some connected with priesthood and temple (Luke 2:25-40). God's glory returns in the Spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14). The Spirit inspires the prophecy of John the Baptizer. The Spirit descends upon Jesus at his baptism by John, indicating that the glory of God resides in the person of Jesus. The author of John's Gospel says, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory..." (John 1:14).
The one who was God had now become flesh. The one who was with God now dwelt among people (John 1:1-2, 14).
The phrase "he made his dwelling among us" is more literally translated "he tabernacled among us" or "he pitched his tent among us." The Message has it, "He moved into the neighborhood." Jesus moved into our neighborhood. He came to earth in the temporary tent of flesh. So the glory of God was once more dwelling in a tent, this time the tent of Jesus' body. In a similar vein, Jesus identifies his body as a temple that will be destroyed, but raised in three days (John 2:18-21). Jesus was now the temple in whom God's glory resides.
The glory of God was not only manifested in Jesus' miracles, transfiguration, and resurrection, but also in his character. As Moses saw that the glory of God was his goodness, the eye-witnesses to Jesus ministry saw him with the Holy Spirit and power as he went around doing good (Acts 10:38). That Jesus was "full of grace and truth,' according to John, is parallel to God's self-revelation of abounding love and faithfulness (compare John 1:14 to Exodus 34:6).
The danger of God's glory made him unapproachable at Sinai, where for a person to even touch the foot of the mountain meant certain death (Exodus 19:9-13). The people preferred that God not even speak to them, but that Moses mediate (Exodus 20:18-19). Jesus is now the mediator like Moses, but even more. He has become the face of the God who is approachable. He is the radiance of God's glory (Hebrews 1:3) in whom the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).
The glory of God, which had formerly resided in the Jerusalem temple, now resides in the temple of Jesus' body. While heaven and earth once intersected at the temple, the two realms now come together in Christ.  He ushers us into the Presence of God in the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 6:19-20).
The human struggle since humanity's expulsion from Eden, and Israel's expulsion from the temple into captivity, has been the need to be reconciled into Gods Presence. But sin had stood in our way. With our sins forgiven in Christ, however, the glory of Divine Presence is restored to the repentant through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Having ascended back to heaven, Jesus sent the Spirit to inhabit his people so that we might carry on as both his body and his temple. The Spirit dwells collectively in the midst of the church which is charged with being a reflection of God's glory (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Spirit likewise indwells individual believers, which serves to deter immorality. We glorify God by living moral lives (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
Our call is to be the temple of God and the body of Christ as hosts of the glory of God. We reflect that glory as we imitate the goodness modeled by Jesus. The glory of God's Presence will only be found in his church. As Israel was to be a light to the nations, we are to let our light shine so that our goodness will help others to see God's glory (Matthew 5:16).
The only epiphany anyone gets to see is God revealed through his people. The glory of God is on display when you help someone change a flat tire, when you visit a nursing home resident, or when you take food to a grieving family. This is when we radiate the light of Christ. As Moses face was radiant, having been in God's Presence, we "who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being tranformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Where have you most recently seen the glory of the Son?
Having returned home from Babylonian Captivity, there was nevertheless a sense in which Israel remained in exile. The former glory of God’s presence had not returned to the temple as fully as before (Hag. 2:3-9). Israel remained under the domineering hand of oppressive nations that continued to limit their freedom. While most ancient writings were produced by the wealthy, the Bible is exceptional in that its authors were often among the oppressed and the poor. The major theme of this book is liberation—whether from sin, Satan, harsh task masters, affluent or violent oppressors, or alienation from God’s presence. Humans are in bondage and in need of deliverance.
The Israelites were hopeful that a deliverer would come. He would ascend to David’s throne and deliver his people from all that held them captive. His kingdom would be one of justice (Isa. 9:7). Among a people longing for justice, this chief virtue would be foremost among the truly godly (Micah 6:8). It was, in fact, injustice that landed Israel in captivity (Amos 2:6-9). This was mainly injustice of the affluent over the poor and of the strong over the weak (Isa. 10:1-2). But the coming king, the Messiah, would run his kingdom differently.
Jesus comes on the scene preaching the good news (gospel) of the kingdom (Mark 1:14-15). He is announcing the return of God’s just reign over his people. He has come proclaiming justice to the nations (Matt. 12:17-21; Isa. 42:1-4). He is the chosen one who has come to bind up the broken hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and to release the prisoners from darkness (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:17-19). He is empowered for this work by the Spirit who is upon him.
The Spirit is not only present in the person of Christ, but the Spirit was active in the events surrounding his birth. God’s presence had especially returned, through his Spirit, to those godly people connected with the temple—people like Zachariah, Anna, and Simeon (Luke 1-2). But Jesus himself is the ultimate temple in whom the glory of God resides (John 1:14; 2:19-21). Jesus’ ministry demonstrated the in-breaking of God’s kingdom. In healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, and restoring sight to the blind, Jesus shows how the power of God is reversing the curse upon creation (Luke 11:20). Jesus takes the brunt of that curse when he is crucified by the corrupt dominating powers. God’s vindication of Jesus, over and against those powers, is affirmed by his raising of Jesus from the dead. His resurrection serves as proclamation that Jesus is Lord (Acts 2:25-36).
The peaceable kingdom of Christ will fully supplant the dominating powers of the world. The kingdom doesn’t come by force or through use of the world’s weapons, for it is the meek who shall inherit the earth (2 Cor. 10:3-4; Matt. 5:5; 2 Pet. 3:13).