May 11, 1993

Exodus 40

In Chapter 39, the completed tabernacle was brought to Moses for his inspection and approval. It met his approval (under the Lord of course. Moses did not approve it on his own). Now this chapter describes the erection of the completed tabernacle.

Vs. 1-16, the Lord again gives to Moses detailed instructions for the erection of the tabernacle. The tabernacle was erected exactly one year after the passover because the passover was the beginning of the calendar for Israel. Thus, the tabernacle was made from "scratch" within less than six months.


1) God is very concerned that the tabernacle be erected exactly according to His instructions. The Lord is very concerned about details, for it is when the various details fit together, that the whole is pleasing to God. Everyone faithfully fulfilled their detailed responsibility, but no one's faithfulness could stand alone: it had to be joined. Furthermore, there is no detail so small that it escapes God's notice or word.

2) The Lord established a set time for the erection of the tabernacle. Though the work was complete and the people ready, the tabernacle could not be erected until God's good time. We need to be very cautious about getting ahead of the Lord. Solomon said in Ecc that there is a time for everything. Sometimes it is very difficult to discern the proper time for the proper action, but we must.

3) the first day of the first month... The new year started with a new service for God. Each new year for God's people should bring a new dedication of service for Him.

4) the order of erection is commanded by the Lord. I would think that it would be unnecessary for the Lord to instruct Moses in the order of erection. Obviously, one would erect the tent first, then the ark and work out, but the Lord told Moses how do in anyway. The Lord is in the business of being orderly, even in the obvious. Everything in His service is to be done decently and in order.

5) the anointing oil... "Every thing was sanctified when it was put in its proper place, and not till then, for till then it was not fit for the use to which it was to be sanctified. As every thing is beautiful in its season, so is everything in its place. (MH)"

A) talents, abilities and works are only beautiful when put into the service for which God intended them. And by service, we mean doing all things for the glory of God. The song goes, "Everything is beautiful," but everything is only beautiful when it is in its proper place which God has established for it.

Talents and abilities used to pursue pride and self cannot be "sanctified" to the Lord no matter how much one tries to obtain God's blessings.

B) the holy anointing oil could only be applied after everything was in its proper place according to the word of God. The Lord commanded anointing after everything was in its place, doing what it was designed to do, fulfilling its purpose.

How many folks seek God's holy anointing in order that they can do their own thing? I have mentioned many times of the people who come to me as a pastor seeking my approval upon what they have already determined they are going to do.

6) God's men are ordained to minister before the Lord. Again, I am struck with the detail which the Lord is regiving Moses. In vs. 10-15, the Lord again calls Aaron and his sons, by name. We have already discussed this, but I want to mention some things again:

A) Everyone is called into God's service; every one has a responsibility before the Lord: every willing person took part in the making of the tabernacle. But only those called by name, Aaron and his sons, could minister in the tabernacle before the Lord. The picture is here of ministers in the physical house of the Lord, the ministers in the church. Those who minister must be called by the Lord into His ministry. Now, I realize that with Aaron and his sons, the ministry was passed down father to son, but such an "heirship" was done away with in Christ.

The Lord may see fit to call the children of a minister into the ministry, but for one to enter into the ministry as simply an occupation is evil. The Methodist preacher that was in our community when we came used to be a vacuum salesman. There is nothing wrong with giving up ones occupation (whatever it might be) to enter into the ministry, but from what I heard and saw, he considered the ministry simply an occupation as was selling vacuum sweepers. Furthermore, I hear of a pastor whom I knew fairly well who is "forcing" his son upon his church as the heir to his "throne" in that church. From what I hear, the call of God upon the boy is not being examined at all.

Thus, the ministry must be a calling of God.

Vs. 16-33, So Moses finished the work.

1) again I am struck with the many times the statement, as the Lord commanded Moses is used: 8 times in these few verses. No wonder Moses is regarded so highly by the Lord throughout His word. Moses was a faithful servant in the house of the Lord, doing as he was commanded in every detail.

Heb 3:1-6, Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses [was faithful] in all his house. For this [man] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some [man]; but he that built all things [is] God. And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Heb 3 above gives the reason that the Lord mentions 8 times that Moses did as the Lord commanded him: everything (the tabernacle and the nation of Israel) Moses did spoke of the greater to come, the Lord Jesus Christ.

2) Moses and the people reared up the tabernacle according to the time established by the Lord. Note the time: it was at the first of the second year out of Egypt. The people were not yet in the promised land, Canaan, but, unknown to them, were many years from their rest. In other words, they erected the tabernacle in the wilderness, not in Canaan. "Those that are unsettled in the world must not think that this will excuse them in their continued irreligion... (MH)"

How many people have told me that they "will serve the Lord" after they get settled in? "That old dog won't hunt." The Lord expects our service no matter where we are; in fact, it is in the wilderness where He is especially needed.

3) v. 16, thus did Moses, v. 29, as the Lord commanded Moses. Obviously, Moses did not do the actual erection of the tabernacle; the people did at the direction of Moses.

A) Moses commanded those under him according to the commands of the One over Him. 8 times we are told that Moses was only following his orders. The great man Moses did not deviate from his orders. Moses had the most authority of any man in OT history, but God recorders over and over that Moses only acted under His (God's) authority. Hence, even the great man Moses never acted on his own.

Those with the greatest authority must remember that they are responsible to be under greater authority. Accountability to God is according to the responsibility given by God. Thus, those in authority must remember that they also are under authority; when ones in authority forget they are under authority, they are operating as anarchists. No person, no matter how great or small, is out from under authority.

Young people may dream of being out from under authority, but their dream will never be realized.

B) to disobey Moses, was to disobey God, for Moses only carried out God's commands. Thus, Godly leaders of our day: if they are simply carrying out the command-word of God, resistance to them is resistance to God.

C) those in authority must remember that they have a Master in heaven Who will hold them accountable for their use of the authority He has given to them. The Lord held the king of Babylon accountable.

4) this complete passage reads as though Moses himself did all these things: properly placed the ark, the table and all that pertained to it, the candlestick and lighted it, the altar and offered the incense and placed the altar of burnt offering and burnt the offering. Although not in the priestly line of Aaron, Ps 99:6 lists Moses as a priest. Evidently, Moses set everything in order and showed the priests how to do everything. Moses set the wheels in motion that would turn until the coming of the One of Whom it all spoke, Jesus.

5) the furnishings were beautiful, but they were to be used. As soon as they were in place, they were put to use. God gives gifts for use, and we had best be busy about their use.

Vs. 34-38, God now dwells among His people.

1) His glorious presence, called the shechinah glory, descends to rest upon and within the place the people had prepared for Him. His presence shows that:
A) He forgave their sin of the calf;
B) He accepted the works of their hands exhibited in the tabernacle;
C) He accepted them as His people.
D) He is their King, their sovereign Ruler.

2) there are a couple pictures here:
A) God dwelling among His people in the form of Christ, John 1:4.
B) those who prepare themselves in holiness will dwell with the Lord, Ps 15; Eph 3:17.

3) the cloud of God's glory:
A) it had protected them from the evil intent of the Egyptians.
B) it had been with them from the time they left Egypt, but not constantly; at times, it went before, at times it went behind & at times it could not be seen at all.
C) it had covered the mount at the giving of the law.

Now the cloud of God's glory would be continually obvious for all Israel to see; they could no longer say, "Is the Lord with us or not?" Israel is now without excuse. The fact of the presence of the Lord (in the continual presence of the cloud) makes their sin from this point on even more sever. Thus, their continued rebellion (as exemplified at the border of Canaan) is deserving exceedingly of God's wrath: they have the visible sign of God's presence and love. Rebellion from this point on is in spite of the fact that they have the visible assurance of God's protective care.

Man's rebellion at times is quite amazing: Israel had with them the visible sign of God's presence, and they still refused to believe that His providential care would see them through all their difficulties. Thus we are shown again (as we are many times throughout Scripture) the absolute requirement of the Spirit's work in the heart.

Man will not do right because of supernatural, visible signs or knowledge; man will only do right because of the supernatural work of the Spirit of God in his heart.

4) the cloud concealed the Lord from the OT saints both here and in Solomon's temple, 1 Kgs 8:9, 10. But in Christ and the word of God, the Lord is "darkly" revealed, 1 Co 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 2 Co 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

5) the cloud promised protection for God's people, Ps 27:5. There are some beautiful promises of God's protection:

Isa 4:5, 6 And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory [shall be] a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. Isa 26:20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. Ps 31:20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Ps 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Mt 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

The obvious reverence is to protection in obedience to the Lord.

6) the cloud was the evidence of God's presence; it led them through the wilderness and to the promised land, Canaan.

A) the child of God today is led by the Lord's presence, ie. the Spirit and the word.
B) the Lord led the people not only to Canaan, but to many places of testing and trials.

The tabernacle was raised on the first day of the first month in the second year, one year after coming out of Egypt. On the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle, and the children of Israel took their journey, Num 10:11, 12. Thus, it was 50 days from the start of the erection of the tabernacle that the people moved on under the leadership of the Lord. Exo 11 opens with the statement, And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. Observe the intolerance now of the Lord for Israel's complaining; they had His presence which makes them more accountable. They have no excuse because they have His law and presence.

Note that folks rejoice over the assurance of their King's presence in and among them (the Christian confidence that King Jesus dwells in and among His people), but according to both Heb ch 10 and 12, the presence of the Lord means more accountability. This fact of increased accountability before the Lord is born out in the life of Israel. The presence of their king among them had marvelous benefits for His obedient people, but it had sure, swift and sever chastisement against His disobedient people.

As we saw under #5, the Lord promises protection, but He also promises chastisement and judgment.

7) V. 35, And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation... The great man Moses, who confronted the burning bush and argued with the Lord, could not enter the tabernacle. Thus we see that personal and individual greatness does not permit one to enter into the presence of the living God. Only the work of the Lord Jesus Christ permits any man to enter into the presence of the Holy Father.

The next book opens with the problem solved of how to enter into the presence of the Holy God and King of Israel: bring an offering... That offering was brought by the Lord Jesus Christ, giving every person free access, without fear, to the Father of Lights, Heb 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us].

Thus, everything spoke of Christ and His work for His people.