Exodus 39-40 The glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle

From Exodus 39-40

02 ExodusThey have been led by the LORD by the fire and cloud. In today’s post they put the tabernacle and the tent of meeting together with all its items of worship. Then the LORD fills the tabernacle.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

The narrative of the tabernacle draws to a close.

16 This Moses did; according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did. 17 In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18 Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. 19 And he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent over it, as the LORD had commanded Moses. (Ex 40.16-19)

‘On the first day’. As with Ex 12.2, the Exodus initiated a new calendar and a new beginning in Israels life. A new creation. The tabernacle is set up one year later on the first day of the first month.

20 He took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark and set the mercy seat above on the ark.

21 And he brought the ark into the tabernacle and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

22 He put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil, 23 and arranged the bread on it before the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

24 He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle, 25 and set up the lamps before the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

26 He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil, 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 28 He put in place the screen for the door of the tabernacle.

29 And he set the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

30 He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, 31 with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet.

32 When they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, as the LORD commanded Moses. 33 And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work. (Ex 40.20-33)

‘As the LORD commanded’, ‘finished the work’. The detail given by which the tabernacle’s items of worship are to be placed reflects the stress on order in God’s account of creation. Everything must be exactly as God has commanded. When everything was done the work was finished (cf. Gen 2.1-3).

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 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. 36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. (Ex 40.34-38)

‘Cloud’. The cloud constantly reminds Israel that God is with them. It was with them when they left Egypt and when they came to Mount Sinai. Now, it will be with them as they head on to the land of Canaan.

‘Glory’. God’s presence is now manifested in the tabernacle. This is the climax and ending of the Exodus narrative and the beginning of their wilderness journeys.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.

The theology of the tabernacle and temple. The tabernacle (and later, the temple) and the priestly service are at the heart of ancient Israelite religious practice. The notion, so common among Christians, that these institutions were mainly about endless sacrifices and tedious rituals and can therefore be safely dismissed misunderstands not only their significance in the Old Testament but the purpose of Christ’s coming. These institutions were, rather, symbols of a higher—and ultimately mysterious—reality. They were truly the means by which God and his people “connected.” (Enns, P., 2000. Exodus, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)

Story of Jesus

The gospel proclaims that Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, is the place where God now dwells with his people.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (Jn 1.14-18)

In the New Testament, Christ and Moses are often compared showing that Christ fulfills Moses’ ministry. Christ’s ministry is not only much better, but he does things Moses could never do. He is a much better mediator, the person who connects us with God.

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