One of our friends in ministry here in Ottawa has a weekly online writing ministry which is a fresh challenge and inspiration each time. Here’s an excerpt from Alan Gilman’s “Torahbytes”. We encourage you to subscribe so that you can receive it on a regular basis.
The Manifest Presence of God – Alan Gilman
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. (Shemot / Exodus 40:34,35; ESV)
An important teaching of the Scriptures is the omnipresence of God, which is another way to say that the God of Israel is everywhere. As King David wrote, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:7,8; ESV)
Even though God is everywhere, that doesn’t mean that he makes himself known everywhere in the exact same way. This is what we see at the completion of the Mishkan (English: Tabernacle). The cloud was a visible and powerful expression or manifestation of God. The overwhelming nature of God’s presence in the cloud was such that Moses could not enter the Mishkan while the cloud was there. This didn’t mean that the Creator of the Universe was exclusively contained within this cloud. It is that this was a special and tangible way in which God revealed himself. This type of expression of God’s presence is often called “the manifest presence of God.”