THE JOY OF OBEDIENCE
Lord, my desire is to expect your gracious hand working in all things. Replace my pictures of peril with protections of your grace.
Read EXODUS 40:1–16
Setting Up the Tabernacle
40 Then the Lord said to Moses: 2 “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. 3 Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. 4 Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5 Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.
6 “Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; 7 place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. 8 Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.
9 “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. 10 Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. 11 Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them.
12 “Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 13 Then dress Aaron in the sacred garments, anoint him and consecrate him so he may serve me as priest. 14 Bring his sons and dress them in tunics. 15 Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.” 16 Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him.
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.
What one thing are you most single-minded about in your life? Why?
When our children were young, they reached an age, perhaps about 5 or 6 years old, where they enjoyed helping with grown-up tasks, which came in handy when we were preparing for a family gathering. ‘Can you put a fork next to each plate?’ and off they’d go on their important mission. Or, ‘Could you carefully fold these napkins and put one at each place?’ Sometimes we’d even take a picture of our little workers because it brought us joy to see them single-mindedly doing what they’d been told.
That’s similar to what’s happening in this passage. God is giving Moses specific instructions for the things that he wanted in the tabernacle: the ark, the table, the lampstand, the golden altar, the anointing oil, and other furnishings (vs 1–15). Tomorrow we’ll see why these instructions were important, but for now the key point is that ‘Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him’ (v 16). Throughout our journey in the second half of Exodus we’ve seen the children of Israel learning to obey. True, there have been notable setbacks,1 but when the Israelites follow his commands, God is pleased to dwell with his people. That’s what he really wants.2
There’s another angle to this picture of obedience that we might overlook. Today, some people think happiness is found in making their own rules, doing whatever they want, but I noticed, as a parent, that my children were happiest when they willingly obeyed what I asked them to do. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children’.3 Single-mindedly doing what pleases our loving Father is the secret to the abundant, satisfying, joyful life Jesus offered.4 That’s the two-way joy of obedience.
How have the setbacks and missteps in your life helped you more fully obey God?
Lord, here I think of the words of the old gospel song, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey”. I trust you, my heavenly father, and seek daily obedience to you.
1 Exod 32 2 Exod 29:42–46 3 Matt 19:14, NLT 4 John 10:10