"ICHABOD" The Glory Has Departed
The presence of God is called the "Shekinah Glory" of God. This Shekinah Glory was present on Mt Sinai (Horeb) in the wilderness in the book of Exodus Chapters 19 and 20. God showed up in fire, smoke, thunder, lightning, loud trumpet, and the shaking of the earth! Exodus 20:18-20-"All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die." Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin." So, Moses went and spent time in the presence of God's Glory on the top of Mt. Sinai. He talked face to face with God; and when he came down to talk to the people of Israel, he did not know that his own face had changed! Exodus 34:29-30-" It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses' hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him." A great lesson learned for the church here is that those who spend time in God's presence will be changed by His presence! Amen! We are called to holiness, and it is accomplished by much time with God in prayer and Bible study.
God came down from heaven to speak to Israel and to be present in their Camp. He set up the Law and the Covenant with Israel that He would be their God, they would be His people, and His presence (His Glory) would abide with them. They had a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The Ark of the Covenant was in the Tabernacle, and that is where the presence of God's glory was -- over the Mercy Seat. Wherever Israel and the Ark of the Covenant went, God's presence went with it.
Because God was present in their midst, He required them to be Holy. The law that He gave them on Mt Sinai outlined what being Holy entailed. From the exodus until the time of Ezekiel, the Ark and God's presence was in Israel.
God must deal with sin in His people because He is holy and is dwelling amongst them! In both the Old and New Testaments, God states His judgments on sin will start with the house of the Lord-Ezekiel 9:5-7, 1Peter 4:17.
In the time of the Judges, the presence (Glory) of God was with the Ark of the Covenant which was at Shiloh. In 1 Samuel Chapter 2, we see that the high priest named Eli had two sons, who were also priests. They were wicked men, and Eli did nothing about it! 1 Samuel 2:12,17, 22-25-"Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord…Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord…Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. He said to them, 'Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the Lord's people circulating. If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?' But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death." Does God really desire to put certain people to death? Yes, the Scripture says so in multiple places. Wickedness had invaded the priesthood of Israel, and they were leading God's people astray in the time of the Judges. The lesson is that when the spiritual leadership of God's people strays away from God, so do the people of God stray away from God! God is holy and He commands His people to be holy (Leviticus 11:44)!
God must deal with the sins of Eli and his sons. God sends a prophet to tell Eli His judgment because God was not talking to Eli because of Eli and his sons' sin. The Lord was also talking to the young prophet, priest, and judge named Samuel-1 Samuel 3:11-14- "The Lord said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."
God sent the Philistines to judge Israel and the house of Eli (1 Samuel 4). The Israelites treated the Ark of the Covenant like a talisman -- a good luck charm -- and brought it to the battle for help and protection; but they never sought God on what they should do! Eli's two wicked sons -- Hophni and Phineas -- came to the battle with the Ark. God abandoned Israel and Eli's sons and Israel lost the battle with 30,000 dead; and God killed wicked Hophni and Phineas on the same day.
God also allowed the Ark of the Covenant to be taken by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:10-11)! When word of this came to Eli, he fell backwards and broke his neck and died on the same day! All of this was God's judgment on wickedness! At this same time and same day, Eli's daughter-in-law who was Phineas' wife was struggling hard in giving birth to a son and was about to die in that delivery-1 Samuel 4:20-22-"And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, 'Do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.' But she did not answer or pay attention. And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, 'The glory has departed from Israel', because the Ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken."
Remember: The Glory of God was over the Ark until the time of Ezekiel -- so the Glory truly had left Israel because of Israel's sin and Eli's and his sons' sin. Ichabod's name means the glory has left. God deliberately allowed His Glory to leave Israel for six months while the Ark was with the Philistines. God did this because of His people's sin. [We will visit other places in Scripture where we will see that "Ichabod" has happened because of the sins of the people of God!]
God also judged the Philistines who had the Ark because He is holy; and they sent the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel. God's Glory was still present with the Ark, and it was lodged at Abinadab's house at Kiriath-jearim. It stayed there for over twenty years, and God blessed Abinadab's house. Then when David became king, he attempted to move the Ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). He did not do it according to God's law; and it cost the life of Uzzah. As they were moving the Ark, it began to topple; and Uzzah reached out to prevent it from falling and God struck him dead. Why did God strike Uzzah dead? Uzzah was only trying to save the Ark from damage! God struck Uzzah dead because His Law said that the Ark was MOST HOLY and could only be moved by the Levites. Lesson learned! God will be treated as holy, or judgment will come on God's people! Even Moses in the wilderness was judged by God because he did not keep God's command! He struck the rock instead of speaking to it! God then told Moses and Aaron that they were treating Him as unholy (Numbers 20:8-12).
Remember: The presence of God is over the Mercy Seat of the Ark. God is to be treated as Holy! David eventually does move the Ark in accordance with God's Law, and the Ark was brought to Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. The Ark of the Lord stayed in a tent at first, but eventually it would be moved to Solomon's temple.
We see the power of the "Shekinah Glory" of God on the day that King Solomon dedicates the new temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 7:1-2-"Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, 'Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.'" The Lesson learned is that when the true glory of the Lord shows up, people will end up on the ground repenting and worshipping! The power of God's presence leads to repentance and worship! BUT this did not last forever. Scripture shows us that in the history of Israel and the history of the church, there are seasons of God's presence and seasons of spiritual drought. An example would be the 400 Years of God's silence from Malachi to John the Baptist with a famine of the Word in Israel. In our present day, there has been almost 170 years since the last Great Awakening and Revival of the American church. There is a famine of the true Word being proclaimed again in our day!
Many years later after Solomon's reign, the kings of Israel and Judah were judged severely by God for their disobedience. Northern Israel had already been judged and removed by God in 722 BC by Assyria and now it was Judah's turn for judgment from 605 to 586 BC! We see in Judah -- after many evil kings and rebellious citizens – that God must destroy Jerusalem and Judah. The temple in Jerusalem has been profaned with all kinds of wicked occult idols. The Idol of Jealousy, Sun God, Tamuz, Queen of Heaven, and many other idols were placed even in the Holy Place! The priesthood and the elders were wicked just like in Eli's day. All this was done while the Ark of the Covenant was in place and God's glory was above the mercy seat. God must act in burning anger to bring judgment on Jerusalem, the temple, and Judah to protect His Holy Name. At this time, the one true God was just another "god of many gods" that Israel worshipped!
During this time, the prophet Ezekiel -- while in exile in Babylon -- was lifted up in a vision to the city of Jerusalem and to the temple. God showed him all the wicked and false worship that was going on in Jerusalem and in the temple of God. Ezekiel 8:3-4,6,12,14,16-"He stretched out the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy, was located. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain." …And He said to me, 'Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, so that I would be far from My sanctuary? But yet you will see still greater abominations'…Then He said to me, 'Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images? For they say, 'The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.''…Then He brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house. And behold, at the entrance to the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun". There are many more abominations mentioned in this chapter, but this gives you an idea of the vile wickedness happening in the house of the Lord -- HIS TEMPLE! Their sin was so great there is no remedy! Ezekiel 8:18- "Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not listen to them."
Ezekiel's vision also shows God using angels to kill the elders and leaders and all who were not marked by God's angels to be saved in Jerusalem. Their sin causes the Glory of the Lord to start to leave the temple in stages and eventually ends up on the Mount of Olives! Ezekiel 9:3-"Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple". Ezekiel 10:4-"Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the Lord." Ezekiel 10:18-19-"Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the Lord's house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them. Ezekiel 11:22-23-"Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them. The glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city". The glory of the Lord left the temple in Jerusalem and went to the Mount of Olives. What a great tragedy! The greater tragedy is that the people never realized the glory of the Lord had left them! Sin had driven God's presence from His people because He is Holy!
The glory of the Lord has left the temple – ICHABOD -- and Israel is so deep in sin she does not even know it. The great destructions of Jerusalem, the temple and Judah are on the horizon as a judgment from God is coming by the hand of Babylon in 586 BC. The glory never returned to Israel even in the second temple. The Ark of the Covenant was lost, and we still do not know what happened to it. The people were exiled to foreign lands and to foreign gods! All because the spiritual leaders and the kings led the people astray and away from the one true God!
The glory did come back in Jesus Christ--God, Savior and King! However, Israel rejected the "Light of the…glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6); and once again the glory of God leaves the same way as the glory left in Ezekiel--from the mount of Olives! Acts 1:9-11-"And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." The Scriptures say that Jesus will return back to the mount of Olives when He returns to setup His kingdom! Zechariah 14:4-"In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south." The glory will not leave when Christ returns back to earth to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords--no more Ichabod!
But what about the New Testament? Does it speak about the glory of God? It certainly does! Jesus had told His disciples that He would send a Helper -- the Holy Spirit -- and that He would not leave them orphaned! John 14:16-18, 26-"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to help you and be with you forever -- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. 17But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." This is a huge paradigm shift from the Old Testament. The glory of God now will dwell inside the regenerated man and also around the man (verse 17).
The Holy Spirit dwells not in the temple made by man, but in the soul of the believer -- the temple of the Holy Spirit- 1Corinthians 6:19-"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own"…
The church was born on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came as a wind and tongues of fire -- and the glory of God fell on the disciples in Jerusalem. Acts 2:1-4-"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." The real church of Jesus has the Holy Spirit in them, and the Holy Spirit also manifests Himself around them. The glory within and the glory without! But just like Israel, the church has to deal with sin in the camp; and we see in multiple epistles that the church needed correction and discipline to keep the glory of God active. The Scripture say that we can grieve and quench the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Can Ichabod happen to churches? It certainly can! We see Jesus addressing the seven churches in the last book of Holy Canon -- the book of Revelation. He tells the churches that He is standing amongst the Lampstands, and He is watching what is happening in the churches (all-seeing; all-knowing) Revelation 1:12-13,16, 20-"I [John] turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man (Jesus), dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest...In His right hand He held seven stars, and coming out of His mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance... The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in My right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches." Jesus is going to speak to them about what they are doing right; what they are lacking in; what He is going to do; and the rewards to those who conquer. Only two of the seven Churches got it right -- Smyrna and Philadelphia! But one of the churches is threatened with "ICHABOD"! Revelation 2:1-5-"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place".
This church has an amazing list of services and works (deeds) they are performing. Today we would consider it a super church -- but not the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords! The Lord Jesus Christ is moving amongst the lampstands with His all-seeing eyes and all-knowing mind. He is not looking at the surface work which can easily be done in the flesh and with enough money. No! He is looking at the hearts; and they have abandoned Christ and are worshiping their works (deeds) and themselves! They have failed the first and the greatest commandment: Matthew 22:36-38-"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.'"
This judgment of moving the Lampstand is the most grievous of judgments. What Jesus is saying is ICHABOD! The Lampstand is the glorious presence of Jesus Christ Himself in the churches. He is the Light of the world (John 8:12) and the Light of the real churches. Without the Lampstand, it is not a real church of Jesus Christ! It is just people meeting in a building who are just going through the motions! They are not ablaze with the glory of God! Their works are doing nothing to expand Christ's kingdom with saved souls to the praise and glory of God and for the spiritual well-being of their communities. IF THEY DO NOT REPENT OF THIS, JESUS IS GOING TO LEAVE JUST LIKE THE GLORY LEFT IN EZEKIEL'S DAY AND THEY WILL NOT KNOW THAT HE HAS GONE -- JUST LIKE ISRAEL! In some cases today, the church never even had the Lampstand to lose.
In this crazy year of 2020, there have been many things observed and many lessons learned. The COVID-19 Pandemic has been used by God to do some great purging of the professed churches in America. It is a worldwide phenomenon which shut down and closed Christian churches all around the world. It was the first time in history that all around the world churches were closed on Easter. Some people have not come back to the churches when they reopened -- including some church leaders. Some churches have so much fear they have not reopened at all. Some churches will never reopen again. Some of the churches that are not reopening had the Lampstand already removed by Christ, ICHABOD. Some churches have just remained opened to maintain the building, and the reality is that God left years ago! Some people have not returned because they were never really regenerated -- they are lost. The soon coming great persecution on the American churches will cause even more departures of unregenerate souls (Matthew 13:20-21). BUT it will also bring the true believers to a greater love and relationship with Christ.
Questions to ask ourselves: Are we in a true love relationship with Jesus Christ, or are we just going through the motions? Has the Lampstand left our church or is it on its way out now? Are we more in love with personalities, programs, and processes than we are with Christ? You ask me: "How will I know?" Ask Christ. He certainly had no problem telling the seven churches in Revelation! He can certainly let His churches know now!
THE REAL NEED IS FOR REVIVAL – both personal and corporate -- which is an extraordinary manifestation of the presence of the glory of God which leads to repentance and refreshing of the soul and the building of Christ's church. ICHABOD CAN BE PREVENTED!