It is written, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NKJV).[i] This verse is one of the most popular in the New Testament, and it points to Yeshua as the Divine Messiah, God in human form, who was manifest and revealed to the creation. However, what exactly did the Apostle John mean when he said, “the Word became flesh?” In a general sense, the Word is the bible. But how does paper or parchment turn into living flesh? I believe there is more for us to understand from scripture.
The One Who Dwells
The rabbis teach us that the Word of God is referred to as the Shechinah (שכינה) pronounced Shekhina in English. The word derives from the root Shechen (שכן), which means to dwell. Although not written in scripture, the term is used to describe God’s manifest glory or His visible presence in the creation.[ii] Interestingly, the Hebrew phrase “words of the living God” (דברי אלקים חיים), appears in the plural form,[iii] which, in my opinion, confirms the plurality of God’s nature—One God revealed in multiple ways.
The sages acknowledge that God occupies physical space, and factually, He exists at the center of all He created and enables their existence.[iv] Rabbinic sage Nehunya ben HaKanah said: “God is the place of the world.” The sages further articulate that the part of the Divine sphere that interacts with man is the Shechinah. This interaction represents God in the lower spheres, which I call the natural realm. As it is written, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22).
The rabbis also refer to the Word of God as the “breath of His mouth” and His Malchut (Kingship), for they say: “the Word of a king (Melech—מלך) rules and a king rules his kingdom through his speech, which is his Word (Milah—מילה).”[v] Therefore, we surmise, the Word of God is His breath and His speech. Both are tangible and audible and correlate with God’s manifest, i.e., revealed presence (the Shechinah) within creation and His Lordship (Malchut) over all creation. These, again, also show the plurality of God’s nature.
We now understand that the Word of God (His Shechinah) both dwells (Shochen—שוכן) and vests itself in created beings, giving them life. And we know that Yeshua is the King who presently dwells (Shochen) within us and will one day dwell and live amongst us, communicating and communing as the King of Kings through His speech. He is the one who holds the keys to life in His hand, and He gives life to all men.[vi]
Yeshua also gives us His peace and His rest, which is called a Sabbath, as it is written, “For we who have believed do enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3). The sages also tell us two Sabbaths are associated with each week. One being the eternity that existed before the creation. The other is the elevation of the Son of God to His throne, the Sabbath of the Messianic Kingdom. It is written, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). Therefore, the Shechinah, Christ, is both the Sabbath and the Kingship (Malchut), and the Sabbath is God’s presence in the world.
Additionally, the rabbis refer to the Sabbath as the bride and the lower Garden of Eden. God calls us His bride, as it is written, “For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth” (Isaiah 54:5). And now, the church, the ecclesia of God, is the Bride of Christ and includes the Gentiles who have been called by His name.
The church has not replaced Israel. Instead, the nations have been grafted into Israel to become one with the Jewish people and one new man in Christ. Yeshua is the incarnate God who is one with His Heavenly Father, as He said, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). In Christ, the wall of separation between Israel and the nations has been removed. And now one with each other, and one with Christ and our Heavenly Father. Yeshua is our rest and our Sabbath, and we are His; as it is written, “My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies” (Song of Solomon 2:16).
In Christ, through the New Covenant, the church has inherited both the physical presence of God (the Shechinah) and His written Word (spoken to Moses and the prophets). These now dwell within our hearts and minds.[vii] As the Lord said, “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). In Jewish understanding, the heart and mind are the same. Therefore, the fullness of God now lives within us, as Yeshua declared, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We (plural) will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).
God’s written Word and Yeshua, His living Word made flesh and revealed to the creation, are inseparable. Therefore, Yeshua and the Shechinah must be one, wholly united within themselves. One does not annul the other, nor did God’s Word vanish when Yeshua came to the earth. On the contrary, God’s written Word came to life. Hence we read, the “Word became flesh.”
The Shechinah and Prophesy
There is a mysterious correlation between the Shechinah, the Holy Spirit, and God’s Divine Light or glory (Kavod). Of course, they are not necessarily the same. Yet all of them signify some form of Divine immanence, and both the Shechinah and Holy Spirit are commonly associated with prophecy.[viii]
Our Sages, of blessed memory, said that: “The Shechinah spoke from the throat of Moses.” They believed that Moses was so translucent because of his utmost humility towards God that when he prophesied, he did not just relay God’s message; instead, the Shechinah spoke directly through his mouth.
We also see with the prophets and those possessed of the Holy Spirit that it was the supernal voice and speech of God that vested itself in their actual voice and speech. So it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2). Paul affirmed this when he said, “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers” (Acts 28:25). And we see this happening on the Day of Pentecost, as it is written, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
The Law and the Prophets
God communicated His Law and instruction (which is called the Torah) through Moses to Israel, revealing His knowledge and wisdom. The Psalmist declared, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…” (Psalm 19:7). If God’s Law were so perfect, why could Israel not receive God’s salvation by obeying the Law?
We know from Jeremiah that “The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah 17:9). So again, from Isaiah, we read, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him [Christ Yeshua] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). And Paul said, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).
God has laid our iniquity on Christ. Thus, it is written, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God did not just take away our sins. He became our sin. And this was a debt we could never repay.
When the Lord spoke through His holy prophets, what did the Shechinah communicate? The Lord told of a mysterious one who was to come and deliver Israel, and ultimately, all humanity from the curse of the Law—the law of sin and death. Israel had brought this curse of the Law upon itself because of her iniquity and their fallen, corrupt nature. We are also incapable of converting our souls through the works of the Law.[ix]
But this mysterious one, the Christ, would reveal God’s heart of love and mercy towards humanity, demonstrating His ultimate plan to restore us to the heart of the Law itself—the law of love, compassion, and kindness.[x] So it is written, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
There is no problem with God’s Law. The issue has continuously resided with us; imperfect and fallen men and women birthed in iniquity.[xi] It would take the shed blood of Christ and the breath of God to make us a new creation in Him, for it is written, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22-23).
The Law of Moses (the Torah) came with the curse of the Law for those who broke it. And yet, in Jewish tradition, the Torah is correlated with the right hand of God, which is His attribute of kindness (Chesed). Thus, it is written, “Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand…” (Psalm 17:7).[xii] Therefore, with its limited priesthood and temporary covering for sin through the shedding of animal blood, the Torah effectively demonstrated God’s grace and mercy towards Israel. Still, we know the Mosaic covenant was temporary, as it is written, “Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22).
The rabbis have compared the Torah to water. Just as water descends from a higher level to a lower level, so has the knowledge and wisdom of God been brought down to ours. Using this analogy of water (emphasis added), the rabbis tell us: “From there [the heavenly realm] the Torah has journeyed in a descent through hidden stages, stage after stage, in the chain-like order of interconnected spiritual [heavenly] ‘Worlds,’ until it clothed itself in material matters and things of this corporeal world, which comprise nearly all the Torah’s commandments and their laws.”
Wow! The rabbis prophetically declared, “until the Torah clothed itself in material matters.” That sounds like the Word of God becoming flesh.
Yeshua certainly understood these prophetic teachings of the rabbis when He said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). I believe it is an inescapable conclusion that Yeshua is the Torah made flesh. He is the living water,[xiii] which is the wisdom, knowledge, and most importantly, the heart of God who has come down to our level and become manifest to us as both His Shechinah (His Divine presence) and His Malchut (His Divine Kingship). Alas, the Words of the Torah became flesh.
The Bread of Life
Yeshua also referred to Himself as the bread of life. It is written, “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). Water is a primary ingredient in making bread. Yeshua combined these two elements when He said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Once again, the Words of the Torah became flesh.
These verses from Yeshua affirm that we need both bread and water to survive spiritually—bread, which is analogous to the written Word of God, and water which is comparable to the Holy Spirit. Combining these gives us the fullness of God’s written Word, which now comes to life by the revelation and instruction of the Holy Spirit. It also comes to life in the person of Yeshua, the fullness of God’s written Word and Spirit revealed to humanity. Yeshua is both the dwelling and indwelling presence of the Shechinah. The Words of the Torah became flesh.
Christ—The Embodiment of the Law
Everything concerning the Law and the prophets was and is to be fulfilled in Christ, for it is written, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). Yeshua said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).
Therefore, all of scripture points to Christ,[xiv] who is not only the one who would exclusively fulfill the commandments and ordinances of the Law but is the one who solely is the embodiment of the Law itself. Thus, the Words of the Torah became flesh.
The Infinite Light
The rabbis refer to God, the Holy One, blessed be He, as the Infinite Light (the Ein Sof). The Hebrew word Baruch (blessed— ברוך), also means to descend and be revealed. God’s greatness can never be fathomed, and no thought can apprehend Him at all. God’s will and His wisdom are infinite and unfathomable, as it is written, “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). “His understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:28).
Therefore, human thought is incapable of grasping Divine thought.[xv] How, then, can the rabbis say that in understanding the Torah, that man can comprehend God’s wisdom? They explain that “God compressed and lowered His wisdom, clothing it in the physical terms and objects of Torah and its commandments, so that it might be accessible to human intelligence, in order that man may thereby be united with God.”[xvi] Thus, the Words of the Torah became flesh.
Revelation Out of Concealment
The Divine light in scripture signifies revelation out of concealment. The light (which is truth) that was previously concealed within its luminary source is now drawn from its source and revealed as light (truth). Thus, it is written, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life…’“ (John 14:6). And the Apostle John declared, “And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
When God’s concealed light is in a state of revelation, it is called an utterance. They also refer to it as the “Word and the breath of His mouth.” Therefore, we conclude that Divine speech utters and reveals that which was previously concealed.[xvii] As it is written, “And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice [utterance] came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased’” (Luke 3:22). Paul said (uttered), “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32).
This descent of God in bodily form is the purpose of the Shechinah to reveal to the world the light, which is higher than the world. Therefore, the Shechinah was and is the level from which life and vitality are drawn down and revealed to all God’s creation.[xviii] God’s revelation is for giving life to His created beings. Hence, the Words of the Torah became flesh.
Chanukah—The Festival of Light
In December, Jewish people all around the world will celebrate Chanukah, the festival of light. In Jewish tradition, the festival is as much a savoring of the darkness as it is a celebration of the light. Rabbi David Seidenberg said: “No one sits in front of the menorah thinking, ‘I can’t wait for these candles to grow so bright that there’s no more darkness.’ On the contrary, darkness is the condition that makes the candles beautiful and sweet.”[xix]
Darkness was necessary so that God’s light would be revealed, for it is written, “Clouds and darkness surround Him” (Psalm 97:2). However, God’s ultimate purpose is not just to show His light (His Shechinah), but ultimately to entirely dispel the darkness in this world, replacing it with His light (Who is the Resurrected Christ and the Word of God, the Torah made flesh). For it is written, “The city [the New Jerusalem] had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (Revelation 21:23).
Hebrew—The Holy Tongue
The Holy Tongue, the Hebrew of the Torah, was the language used in creation. And so, all created things are directly affected by their Hebrew names.[xx] It is the Shechinah that emanates the power of God’s speech to utter the Words of Torah into creation, as it is written, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). This verse is a direct reference to Christ. The rabbis teach us that the heavens were made by the Word of God and all their hosts by the breath of His mouth.[xxi]
It is written, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). For this reason, the Shechinah is called our Nefesh (Soul) and our heart.[xxii] We can, therefore, conclude that it was the Shechinah that Divinely spoke creation into existence and breathed life into Adam.
If Yeshua, the last Adam,[xxiii] is the Shechinah of God revealed in human form, we can conclude that it is the Shechinah dwelling within that brings us life. And how does Yeshua bring us life? He does so through His Word, which now comes to life in the Holy Spirit that was sent from our Heavenly Father, as it is written, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).
Written on our Minds and Hearts
If the Word of God has come to life in us, then what things will the Holy Spirit teach? Primarily, it will be God’s Law, for it is written, “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts…” (Jeremiah 31:33). And what does God’s Law look like when it is written on our hearts and minds? Most significantly, it becomes the full manifest expression of love, for God is love.[xxiv] So Yeshua said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments… He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:15-21).
We can now begin to understand the oneness and unity of God. His written Word is not just a narration of His knowledge and wisdom or a casual description of His perfect nature. God’s Word brings us life because of the truth it communicates to our hearts and minds. God’s Word is life, and it becomes life for all who drink from it, meaning obey and follow it. If God dwells with and within us but does not speak, then His presence cannot bring revelation (which is truth) to illuminate our minds, and His Kingship has no authority over us. Without God’s voice, how are we to be renewed in the spirit of our minds? How can God’s Law and nature be written on our hearts?[xxv] It cannot.
From the moment we accept Yeshua (whose name means salvation) until we go to Him, our walk with the Lord is a lifelong journey of learning and transformation—countless salvation moments. As it is written, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Yeshua said, “Do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12). The fact that we can presently be with Christ and hear from the one who dwells within us should bring an even greater fullness to our friendship with God.
One day soon, Christ Yeshua, the Shechinah, our Lord and Savior, and our King will not only dwell within us, but He will also dwell amongst us for all eternity. Yes, the Word of God, the Words of the Torah made flesh, will live with us forever.
At that time, the Shechinah, who the rabbis associated with the Tabernacle of David, will be restored, for it is written, “On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11). For, “Behold, the tabernacle [Shechinah] of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).
SOURCE: HOUSE OF DAVID MINISTRIES
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Bible (NKJV) unless otherwise noted, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.
[ii] Encyclopedia Britannica.
[iii] The Tanya of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. Elucidated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg. Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun. Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society.
[iv] Glotzer, Leonard R. The Fundamentals of Jewish Mysticism: The Book of Creation and Its Commentaries. Jason Aronson, Inc. 1992.
[vi] John 10:28. Revelation 1:18.
[vii] Jeremiah 31:31.
[viii] Ibid. Encyclopedia Britannica.
[ix] 1 Corinthians 15:21.
[x] Proverbs 31:26.
[xi] Psalm 51:5.
[xii] Psalm 18:35, 20:6. Song of Solomon 2:6, 8:3.
[xiii] John 1:4, 6:33, 35, 48.
[xiv] Luke 24:27.
[xv] Job 11:7, Isaiah 55:8.
[xvi] Ibid. The Tanya of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.
[xvii] Revelation 10:4.
[xviii] Ibid. The Tanya of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.
[xix] Laufer, Sari. Darkness and Light: Kislev after Pittsburg. Sepharia.
[xx] Ibid. The Tanya of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.
[xxiii] 1 Corinthians 15:45.
[xxiv] 1 John 4:8.
[xxv] Ephesians 4:23.