Exodus 40

Exodus 40 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson

            “This Moses did; according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did.”  How many times have we read this verse or something similar?  Herein lies the greatness of Moses.  This is what God wants for all of us.  To do or say according to all that the Lord commands us.  Faith shows itself through obedience. Obedience is the other side of the faith coin. Moses simply did what the Lord commanded him.  That would be a highly valued description of ourselves if it were true.

            This chapter is the process of moving the furniture in the tabernacle and getting it and the priests ready for God’s presence.  In verse 33, Moses finishes his work.  Then this next shocking verse, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”  This is God filling the tabernacle with His presence.  So soon after the golden calf incident?  So soon after His people made a calf and said, “
This is your God?”   

            God is approving Moses’ work but God is the One who desires His presence to be among His people – sinful though they (or we) are.  We need to let this sink in.  We need to soak in this truth. We can’t hurry on to something deeper, more important, or more weighty.  Talk about grace!  This is one of the verses I hope you never get over.  A holy, righteous, perfect God dwells with His sinful, rebellious, hard-hearted people.  This same awe that we should sense at this section of Exodus should humble us as we consider that Christ lives in us. 

            In vs 34, Moses writes the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  The next verse says that “And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”  Twice this phrase is used in two verses.  This emphasis is to show that this is God’s house now.  He owns this place and fills it.  So although Moses built the tabernacle,  he could no longer go in the tabernacle.  “It was no more appropriate now for Moses to enter the tabernacle, even though he had been all through it as its building supervisor, than it would be for a house builder in modern times to retain a key and enter at will a house that he had built once it was sold to its occupying owner” (Stuart).  With this filling of the tabernacle, the tabernacle had become what it was intended to be:  a dwelling place for God. 

            Wouldn’t you think that these people would be soft-hearted, obedient, holy, and God-centered.  Rather, we see people who are disobedient, unholy, hard-hearted, and man-centered in their orientation to life.  Yes, they say they will follow the Lord but they do not.

            The Israelites had the presence of God with them in the tabernacle, in the form of a cloud by day and fire by night.   They could see and had experienced the presence of a holy God.  We might say, “There is no excuse for the way they lived.”

            That is the way I feel about my own life.  At times, I lose sight of Christ and see my sin, my lack of spiritual growth.  I bemoan my waywardness and callous heart for the things of God.  I find it easy to criticize Pharisees, Israel on the exodus, or the disciples.  Yet, I often fail to see my own sin in the light of all that Christ has done for me

            I have been so well taught, cared for by others, encouraged by pastors, elders, and friends.  I know in the deepest part of my soul how I know Christ and His life changing Spirit.  And yet I sin.  But I know, and I hope I can say we know, that there is more righteousness in Christ than there is sin in me. 

            His Spirit keeps drawing me to Christ.  His Spirit battles my self-centeredness, pride, anger, jealousy, and whatever other sins pull me down.   I know that His Spirit dwells within me.  You know that.  Keep repenting and believing.  Keep believing in the gospel.  We have no other hope. 

            Recall what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.

 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction(1Co 10:9-11 ESV).  As you read these stories in the Old Testament, they are for us to ponder, muse, meditate, and reflect upon so we learn from their mistakes.  It does no good to our sanctification if we merely look down on the Israelites.  Make good use of their example.  If you know a buoy is there and you hit the stump, sandbar,  or rock everytime, what good to us is merely seeing the buoy?

            We have the same struggles they had but we have Christ.  My sin is like a drop of black ink in his ocean of grace.  He still wants to dwell with us.  Wonder of wonders He loves us.  I don’t think I will ever get over this simple fact.  Not now and certainly not in eternity.