Monday, May 30
Reader: “Moses proceeded to do everything just as the Lord had commanded him.”
Response: “just as the Lord had commanded him.”
Scripture: Exodus 40:16-38
Moses proceeded to do everything just as the Lord had commanded him. So the Tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month of the second year. Moses erected the Tabernacle by setting down its bases, inserting the frames, attaching the crossbars, and setting up the posts. Then he spread the coverings over the Tabernacle framework and put on the protective layers, just as the Lord had commanded him.
He took the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant and placed them inside the Ark. Then he attached the carrying poles to the Ark, and he set the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—on top of it. Then he brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Tabernacle and hung the inner curtain to shield it from view, just as the Lord had commanded him.
Next Moses placed the table in the Tabernacle, along the north side of the Holy Place, just outside the inner curtain. And he arranged the Bread of the Presence on the table before the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded him.
He set the lampstand in the Tabernacle across from the table on the south side of the Holy Place. Then he lit the lamps in the Lord’s presence, just as the Lord had commanded him. He also placed the gold incense altar in the Tabernacle, in the Holy Place in front of the inner curtain. On it he burned the fragrant incense, just as the Lord had commanded him.
He hung the curtain at the entrance of the Tabernacle, and he placed the altar of burnt offering near the Tabernacle entrance. On it he offered a burnt offering and a grain offering, just as the Lord had commanded him.
Next Moses placed the washbasin between the Tabernacle and the altar. He filled it with water so the priests could wash themselves. Moses and Aaron and Aaron’s sons used water from it to wash their hands and feet. Whenever they approached the altar and entered the Tabernacle, they washed themselves, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Then he hung the curtains forming the courtyard around the Tabernacle and the altar. And he set up the curtain at the entrance of the courtyard. So at last Moses finished the work.
Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.
Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.
This passage is fascinating when we grasp the significance of what is transpiring. Previously, Moses had been with the Lord for forty days on Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments and getting a visual picture and specific instructions on building the Tabernacle. What was the point of the Tabernacle for these desert wanderers? The Tabernacle was to be a kind of mirror, a shadow, of God’s dwelling place in heaven which is why God was so specific in giving Moses precise instructions. Tabernacle literally means “tent of meeting.” God wanted to meet with his people.
Middle Easterners’ general belief was that the gods designed their own dwelling places, where they should be built, and who should build them. So God giving Moses specific instructions would not have been a surprise to the people.
The Tabernacle design, who should build it, the materials to be used, and the date of construction were all of God’s choosing. He sanctioned and legitimized its creation. God prescribed every detail concerning the Tabernacle and later the Temple. These were not to be ordinary structures, but the holy dwelling place of God on earth in the midst of his people patterned after heaven itself. We are reminded of God’s desire in this passage in Revelation: “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.’” (Rev 21:3)
You have undoubtedly noticed one phrase being repeated . . . exactly eight times, the number of perfection plus one! (We have the seven days of creation plus resurrection day.) Notice the opening statement of Moses’ affirming response to God’s instructions. What follows are twenty-six actions of Moses in doing exactly what the Lord had told him in setting up the Tabernacle, God’s home on earth. Interspersed among his work is the phrase “just as the Lord commanded him.” God delights in obedience. The result of the Tabernacle’s construction was otherworldly, exactly as God had instructed! God’s approval followed. The cloud of the glory of God covered and filled the Tabernacle, the same thing happened with the Temple Solomon built. (I Kings 8:10-11) Imagine, the glory of God was so magnificent Moses could not enter the Tabernacle. What kind of impact do you think that had on the Israelites as they surrounded God’s dwelling place?
During the day, every day for forty years, there was the Cloud that hovered over the Tabernacle. Every night for forty years there was a pillar of Fire that hung above the Tabernacle. As the people were learning more and more about Yahweh, he impressed upon them his continual presence in their midst. We may have a tendency to think, why didn’t they get it and do “just as the Lord commanded” them. My guess is the visible presence of God became so “old hat” that they took God’s presence for granted. They lost the awe and reverence that they had once known and turned inward and lost the transcendence of Emmanuel, “God with us.” We have that same challenge every day. That Tabernacle is now within you and me with the cornerstone being laid at the cost of the blood of Christ. Has God’s presence with us become “old hat”?
Music: “Cornerstone” Shawn Kirchner Hour of Power Choir
O most merciful Lord, grant to me Thy grace that it may be with me, and labor with me, and persevere with me even to the end. Grant that I may always desire and will that which is to Thee most acceptable and most dear. Let Thy will be mine, and my will ever follow Thine, and agree perfectly with it. Grant to me, above all things that can be desired, to rest in Thee, and in Thee to have my heart at peace. Thou art the true peace of the heart, Thou its only rest; outside of Thee all things are hard and restless. In this very peace, that is in Thee, the one Chiefest Eternal Good, I will sleep and rest―Amen. ―Thomas à Kempis, from Prayers Ancient and Modern, p.21