Devotion on Exodus, Chapter 40, 18 March 2015 Anno Domini
1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. (Ex 2:1-4)
Good- bye’s (Old English contraction for God be w’ye) are always more sorrowful than hello’s; but bidding good bye to a friend and brother in Christ is always a temporary proposition, for we shall surely see them again in far better fettle than now. So, we leave off with Exodus and our dear friend, Moses, for now. We begin our present good bye with a part of the beginning, for Exodus is a book that prominently features Moses and His people.
Some eighty years ago, Moses was a baby adrift in the mighty Nile River. Pharaoh’s daughter saw baby Moses and took him for her own, but someone else saw him, too, from the moment he was released in those waters by his mother. His sister saw him and watched until he was taken out by the Princess of Egypt; yet, there were other eyes on baby Moses, as well – the searching and protective eyes of the Almighty God. Just as He does for each of His children, God ordered the life of Moses – every step, and every event of his life. God had plans for Moses, and those were more than plans when they are born in the Heart and Mind of God.
God used every experience in the life of Moses to mold him into the man he would become – a resilient leader, and a prophet among His people Israel. Moses was not alone in that ark of bulrushes. Though it was tiny, it was not so tiny that God was not with him. God watched over Moses as he learned many arts and sciences in the palace of Pharaoh. He used the ardent loyalty of Moses for his people to remove Moses from Egypt and to a desert place where the quiet solitude would enable Moses to hear the very voice of God. Moses was forty years old when he left Egypt as a young man fleeing the wrath of Pharaoh for justifiably having killed one of his men. For the next forty years, Moses lived that quiet life of the desert until one day he had a little conversation with a Burning Bush.
That Voice that Moses heard emanating from the fires of the Bush was the Voice of God. God told Moses to go down again into Egypt and to tell old Pharaoh to let His people go. Moses hesitated to accept that call, but in the end, like all called men of God, Moses had no choice. He went into Egypt and did precisely as the Lord commanded him – this in spite of daily fears and mysteries. Like a good soldier, Moses obeyed often without knowing why. As Tennyson says in the Charge of the Light Brigade, “Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die.” So it was with Moses, but God had no intention of Moses giving up the ghost until his labors were done. God wills the same for you and me.
So after ten terrible plagues that God wrought upon Egypt – the final being the death of the eldest son of each household – Pharaoh relented and let the Children go. But he had a change of heart and pursued all of the way to the banks of the Red Sea. God made His protective Presence known by a great Cloud by day and a Fiery column by night. That Pillar of God’s Presence stood between splendored armies of Pharaoh and the Children of Israel. Using Moses as His instrument, God divided the Red Sea waters and the people crossed on dry ground. As Pharaoh pursued, he and his army were swamped in the same waters which had protected the People of God. God sent abundantly flowing waters to the Children, and Manna from Heaven, at Mt. Horeb (which I call ‘the Mountain of Mercy’). He called Moses to the heights of Mt. Sinai and gave him His Laws written on Tables of Stone with God’s own Finger. But, in Moses’ absence, the children turned to idolatry. Idolatry always leads to carnal and riotous behavior. So Moses, in righteous indignation, broke the Tables of the Law. God’s Covenant was dishonored by those whom He was intending to benefit in His love.
So God gives Moses the plans for His Tabernacle and restores His Law and Covenant. The Tabernacle is now complete and ready to be erected as we verge upon Chapter 40.
“1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. 3 And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail. 4 And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof. 5 And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle. 6 And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. 7 And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein. 8 And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate. 9 And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy. 10 And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy. 11 And thou shalt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it. 12 And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. 13 And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. 14 And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: 15 And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.” (Ex 40:1-15)
Now, we have already discovered that every object, both in the Tabernacle, and without, had a direct application to the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a place of beauty inwardly, and plain and common in outward form (being covered in goat’s hair and badger skins). The Tabernacle tells of the once-and-for-all-time sacrifice of the only Begotten Son of God, of the continual washing of prayers of repentance and contrition prior to entering the Holy Place to commune with God. It highlights the Eternal Presence of Christ in the Bread of Presence of the Shew Bread Table, the Revealing Light of the Holy Ghost in the Candlestick facing opposite the Shew Bread Table, and the prayers of praise and exaltation of the people rising up to Heaven as illustrated in the Altar of Incense. The Most Holy Place behind the vail represents God the Father AND God the Son (at the Throne). The Ark of the Covenant containing the Laws and Manna beneath the door (lid) of the Mercy Seat (Christ) is approached after the worshipper has accepted the Holy Sacrifice at the entrance of the Tabernacle, been washed and baptized at the Brazen Laver, and gone through the Presence of Christ in the Bread of the Presence in the Holy Place. I hope you will return to previous chapters to review in detail these wonderful symbols of truth.
“16 Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he. 17 And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. 18 And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars. 19 And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the LORD commanded Moses. 20 And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark: 21 And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses. 22 And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail. 23 And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses. 24 And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward. 25 And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses. 26 And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail: 27 And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the LORD commanded Moses. 28 And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle. 29 And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the LORD commanded Moses. 30 And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. 31 And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: 32 When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses. 33 And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.” (Ex 40:16-33) Moses did EXACTLY as the Lord commanded. We often settle for ball-park perfection in the labor of men, but with God, every command is of vital importance – for He is Holy! Moses reared the Taberancle with all of the accoutrements as God had instructed – the Bread of Presence being on the North side as the place of Holy Power.
When we have demonstrated our faith in obedience to God, He will also make His Presence known to us as revealed in the following text: “34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: 37 But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” (Ex 40:34-38) God made His Presence known by the Glory Cloud (the same that is on the Great Seal of the United States) and filled the Tabernacle with Himself such that Moses, who had built the Tabernacle according to God’s command, could not enter. The House of God does not belong to a minister, a Board of Trustees, or to a committee of the laity – it belongs to God alone. God informed His people when to remain still, and when to journey according to the sign of His Presence in the Pillar of Cloud and Fire. He does the same today if we will only attune our spiritual Ears and Eyes to hear and see.
So, for now, we bid farewell to Moses as he stands without the Tabernacle. He has much more to do over the next forty years until God leads him up Mt. Pisgah and shows him the Promised Land which he, again, is not allowed to enter. Moses dies on that mountain and a desolate grave, somewhere in Moab, still today covers his bones – but not his soul and Being, for that is with God. AMEN