Loving Lord, where I have become over-familiar with your Word, wake me up to the awesome privilege of meeting with you.
Read EXODUS 40:17–38
17 So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year. 18 When Moses set up the tabernacle, he put the bases in place, erected the frames, inserted the crossbars and set up the posts. 19 Then he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering over the tent, as the Lord commanded him.
20 He took the tablets of the covenant law and placed them in the ark, attached the poles to the ark and put the atonement cover over it. 21 Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle and hung the shielding curtain and shielded the ark of the covenant law, as the Lord commanded him.
22 Moses placed the table in the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle outside the curtain 23 and set out the bread on it before the Lord, as the Lord commanded him.
24 He placed 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 commanded him.
26 Moses placed the gold altar in the tent of meeting in front of the curtain 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the Lord commanded him.
28 Then he put up the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle. 29 He set the altar of burnt offering near the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, and offered on it burnt offerings and grain offerings, as the Lord commanded him.
30 He placed the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing, 31 and Moses and Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet. 32 They washed whenever they entered the tent of meeting or approached the altar, as the Lord commanded Moses.
33 Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.
The Glory of the Lord
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”’1
In the first half of this chapter, God spelled out specific instructions for setting up the tabernacle (vs 1–16). Now we see Moses doing exactly what he was told (vs 17–33). The text summarizes by saying, ‘And so Moses finished the work’ (v 33). That raises an interesting question: did Moses finish well? On the one hand, he led the people out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and to Mount Sinai, where he received the Ten Commandments and all the instructions from God we’ve been reading through. On the other hand, however, Moses had a criminal past, an anger problem and, even after all those years wandering in the desert, he never made it to the Promised Land.
Finishing well in the Christian life doesn’t mean we’ll have a perfect record, or that we’ll always end on a winning season. The key to success for Moses was that all along he understood that God’s presence was more important than even the Promised Land. His prayer was ‘Lord, you have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations’.2 That’s why the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle is a fitting conclusion to the book of Exodus. It was a dramatic expression in fire and cloud of the presence of God.
Centuries later, Moses witnessed a similar expression on the mountain of transfiguration.3 ‘While he [Jesus] was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”’4 Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s presence, experienced now through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Someday, maybe soon, that glorious presence will fill the whole earth.5 Staying focused on that reality is the key to finishing well.
No matter how old you are, what would it look like for you to finish well? Make that the focus of your prayer today.
Blessed Holy Spirit, set me heart aflame with faith, hope, and love. I release you anew in my life so that I might be used mightily by you all the days of my life.
1 Mark 14:36 2 Ps 90:1, emphasis added 3 Matt 17:1–13 4 Matt 17:5 5 Rev 21:1–4