Looking at Exodus 40 back through the lens of Jesus’ instruction on how to read the Scriptures, what can we learn from Exodus 40 about God and us, his people? Granted, there is also much to be learned about God and his people from every part of the work in the tabernacle, but since chapter 40 was part of my reading plan today, and since some fun things were made clear to me from chapter 40 as I read this morning, I believe I’ll keep it short and sweet from Exodus 40.
All the preparation has been completed. Bezalel and his Spirit-empowered craftsmen have created and gathered all the parts as instructed by God in order to construct the place where God would meet with Moses, lead the people, and receive worship visibly among the people and among the nations for his great name’s sake and his people’s rescue from sin, and continue to lay the groundwork for the coming of Jesus who would bring it to completion. Whew!
Once everything is constructed and assembled and set up, something amazing happens.
Exodus 40:34-38 (CSB) The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey. 37 If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey.
Everything is completed and Yhwh’s glory, his very presence filled the tabernacle, and it was so powerful that Moses could not enter. From that moment until they settled into the promised land, the Lord showed his presence and led them in the cloud and the fire in the cloud at night.
John 1:14 uses the language of the tabernacle to describe Jesus’ coming to show us this very same glory that he showed Moses and the people. So, in Jesus we see God’s very glory put on display for us to witness.
Jesus accomplishes the mission, and he promises that when he ascends back to the Father, he would send the Holy Spirit to be in us and fill us and be our counselor and guide.
2 Peter 2:1-10 uses temple language to describe the people of God as God’s temple, priests, and holy. The temple is the permanent replacement of the tabernacle. So, God’s people have God’s presence in them making them holy and priests of God.
Do you know what I see in the biblical/theological lens Jesus gave us to interpret texts like this? I see you and me together in Christ when he saves us, and his work is as good as completed. I see this also since we have this glorious word from the apostle in Romans 8:
Romans 8:29-30 (CSB) 29 For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.
If we are in Christ then, and we are counted as completed, we get the Holy Spirit to be with us and inside of us because he has saved us, and the work of completing us is counted as done and yet to be worked out in the present in real-time. Counted and completed, given the Spirit, working out that reality in real-time.
By the glory of the Lord filling that tabernacle, even though it was among some hellions, God was witnessing to the fact that when the work is completed, assembled, and put together in Jesus, he gives us all of himself, and he will be our ever-present guide until he gets us to practical completion.
So, when you read Scripture like Exodus 40, try to see them through Jesus’ lens in Luke 24, and draw interpretive lines to and from other Scriptures that help us to understand what God was doing for us so long ago in history so that we can get a beautiful picture of what he is presently doing for us in Jesus.
That causes me to worship and give thanks, and fall deeper in love with his word.