Reading: Exodus 39 – 40Many people begin their Bible reading plans this time of year and often get bogged down before they leave Exodus. Typically this bog down occurs as we get wrapped up trying to understand the details of the tabernacle and its various pieces. This year it might serve you to get a wide-angle-lens view of these chapters. Rather than trying to understand each measurement, and each detail, let's back up and see the scenery a little. Then maybe before you exit Exodus you can see the Gospel in advance communicated.
At the conclusion of the description of making the tabernacle, we read the following description in Exodus 39:32, 42-43 (ESV):
Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did.... According to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the people of Israel had done all the work. 43 And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them.
What does this verbiage remind you of? Does it sound familiar? It is reminiscent of the creation of the world where we read the repetition of “God said and it was so....God saw that it was good...and God blessed them...”. In fact at the conclusion of the creation account we read,
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 2:1Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 1:31—2:3 ESV)
Why this symmetry? Why this correspondence between the two accounts? I propose that it is communicating a message. When God created the world, it was perfect. It was perfect because it was a place where God could dwell with His people in unhindered fellowship. There was life there, not death. There was peace there, not chaos and disaster. There was joy there, not depression. But man rejected God's way. Man decided he wanted to make his own rules about what is good and evil, and not listen to God's revelation about what is good and evil. The result? Death, decay, depression, disaster on an apocalyptic scale...literally.
The serpent promised, “You shall not surely die.” And his lies continue to this day. You would think we would have figured him out by now, but as a race we keep falling for the same lies. Last night I was watching a program on TV, and turned the channel during a commercial only to come across an nightly news/talk program in which a certain author who wrote a book about women and sexuality was being interviewed. And here is the only quote I heard, “Sex is good; even if it is bad, it is good. Now this isn't what is being communicated in Western culture influenced by Chritianity...” Now the interviewer got a smile on his face like a child getting ready to open a big present. And that is what many in the audience were thinking. “Wow, that's a brilliant new idea. Wow, you mean I really can be happy if I just disregard God's word and pursue my lusts...”
I've got news for you, sex will not bring us back to paradise. But God is. God is restoring paradise to us. And the message we are to take away from Exodus and its tabernacle building is this: God is restoring us to the Garden again. His laws, His worship, the sacrifices are all about this restoration.
Just to make sure we don't miss the connection to Genesis, after reading the words in Exodus quoted above when all the parts of the tabernacle were completed, then we have the account of setting it up. And as it is set up we read seven times, corresponding to seven days of creation with the “and God said and it was so” repetition.
Exodus 40:16 ...according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did.
Exodus 40:19 Then he... as the LORD commanded him.
Exodus 40:21 Then he .... as the LORD commanded him.
Exodus 40:22-23 Moses placed ... as the LORD commanded him.
Exodus 40:24-25 He put ... 25and set up...as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Exodus 40:29 And he set ... as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Exodus 40:30 He set ... as the LORD commanded Moses.
And then this is followed by:
Exodus 40:33 “So Moses finished the work.”
This similarity is no mere coincidence. God is restoring paradise to us. And the message we are to take away from Exodus and its tabernacle building is this: God is restoring us to the Garden again. His laws, His worship, the sacrifices are all about this restoration.
This explains why, just as the garden was guarded by cherubim, so the tabernacle curtains were embroidered with cherubim. And when it was all was said and done the cloud returned. I can't help, as I read “the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle,” remembering the mist in the garden (Gen. 2:6) which watered the garden each day, bringing life to all that lived. God is the source of our life. God's presence restored is paradise restored. The message of exodus is clear: God is restoring life to us by restoring relationship to Him through sacrifice. Ultimately we know that this sacrifices can only be fulfilled in Jesus Christ...the ultimate tabernacle of God. And when we are found in Him, the Spirit, the presence of God comes to dwell in us!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel