Introduction: Exodus is a story of redemption. Redemption is not just freedom; it is freedom with a purpose. After God delivered the Jews from bondage, He then showed them the Covenant of the Ten Commandments, the sacrificial laws, and the Tabernacle so that He could dwell in fellowship with them. Like God did for the Jews in Egypt, Jesus has freed you from the bondage of sin. But He did so with a terrible price. He was the Passover Lamb who bore your sins to allow you to be in God’s presence. Having been bought with a price, Jesus owns you and your body (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Like God did with the Jews, Jesus wants you to use your freedom to find fellowship with Him. You find fellowship when you are sanctified or set apart for Him. You should desire to be set apart for Him both out of gratitude and because your body is now the Temple where the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Cor. 3:17). Under God’s Law, the Holy Spirit’s dwelling must be kept holy: “This is the law of the house: its entire area on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.” (Ez. 43:12). Living a holy life starts with obedience to God’s will, His Word, and His direction.
In Exodus 40, God observed seven times the obedience of the Jews in assembling the Tabernacle according to His instructions (Ex. 40:19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32). After they showed their obedience, He then dwelt with them. From Exodus chapter 40, He reveals seven final lessons.
First, from God’s specific directions to Moses regarding the assembling of the Tabernacle, He wants you to arrange your life according to His perfect order. Second, from His direction to Moses to anoint the Tabernacle, He reveals that He wants your body to be holy and anointed for the Holy Spirit’s use. Third, from His direction to Moses to anoint the priests, He reveals that He wants you to be available for His use as one of His priests. Fourth, from the detailed account of Moses erecting the Tabernacle according to God’s commands, He reveals that He wants you to walk in obedience to stay free from bondage. Fifth, from the account of His Shekinah glory entering the Tabernacle, God foreshadowed the time when part of His Shekinah glory would enter your body through Jesus. Sixth, through His holy pillar of light that guided the Jews, He reveals that He will also guide you when you are obedient. Finally, by revealing that His holy cloud guided the Jews during their entire journey, He reveals He wants you to have faith that He will never leave you nor forsake you. Sin may interrupt your fellowship. But nothing can destroy His love for you.
Turn to God for freedom and redemption1
God’s command to Moses to assemble the Tabernacle. After the builders had completed the construction of the component parts of the Tabernacle, God directed Moses to assemble everything together on a specific date and in a specific manner: “1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 ‘On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 3 You shall place the ark of the testimony there, and you shall screen the ark with the veil. 4 You shall bring in the table and arrange what belongs on it; and you shall bring in the lampstand and mount its lamps. 5 Moreover, you shall set the gold altar of incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the veil for the doorway to the tabernacle. 6 You shall set the altar of burnt offering in front of the doorway of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 7 You shall set the laver between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. 8 You shall set up the court all around and hang up the veil for the gateway of the court.” (Ex. 40:1-8). The Jews built the Tabernacle exactly one year after the Jews left Egypt. This put the building of the Tabernacle during the first month of the religious calendar (“Nisan”), which symbolized a new beginning with God.
God also wants your life to be ordered according to His will. The instructions regarding the Tabernacle apply to you because your body is the Tabernacle of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:17; 6:19-20). Just as the Tabernacle had to be ordered according to God’s will, so should your life. You have freedom to do what you want. Yet, when you step outside of God’s perfect order in your life, you step outside of His protection. When you live according to His order, He gives you peace: “for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” (1 Cor. 14:33). “But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” (1 Cor. 14:40). “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.” (Col. 2:5). Is there disorder in your life? Are you lacking self-control?
God’s command for Moses to anoint the Tabernacle. After revealing both when and how to assemble the Tabernacle, God directed Moses to anoint it with Holy oil: “9 Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and shall consecrate it and all its furnishings; and it shall be holy. 10 You shall anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, and the altar shall be most holy. 11 You shall anoint the laver and its stand, and consecrate it.” (Ex. 40:9-11). The anointing oil symbolized the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13; Zech. 4:2-6). As stated above, the Tabernacle symbolizes the body of every believer (1 Cor. 3:17; 6:19-20). The anointing oil of the Tabernacle therefore symbolized letting the Holy Spirit anoint and control your body. This begins by making your life a “living sacrifice” to Jesus: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2; Jam. 1:27). Although many believers may say that they walk according to the Holy Spirit, Jesus gives each believer a test to verify if their actions are anointed by the Spirit. Jesus reveals that you will know a Sprit-led person when the fruit of the Spirit is visible in that person’s life (Matt. 7:17). The “fruit of the Spirit is (1) love, (2) joy, (3) peace, (4) patience, (5) kindness, (6) goodness, (7) faithfulness, (8) gentleness, [and] (9) self-control;” (Gal. 5:22-23). Are you keeping the temple of Holy Spirit holy by making your life a “living sacrifice” to Jesus? If you think the answer is yes, are all the fruit of the Spirit visible in your life? If not, pray for God to reveal those areas of your life where you are not acting in obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Follow in Jesus’ example of Holiness. Jesus lived His life free from sin. Although all believers will sin, Jesus wants you to work to be holy just as He is holy: “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.’” (Lev. 19:2; Ex. 22:31; 1 Pet. 1:16; Ep. 1:4; Matt. 5:48). Would a non-believer friend look at your life and say that you separated from unholy influences and unholy talk in the world around you? Have the sinful and evil things of the world around you corrupted your walk with God? If so, repent and let Jesus wash you clean so that He can use you for service: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9).
Control what you watch. How are you to separate yourself from the world? Among other things, Jesus reveals that you must be mindful of what you watch: “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23; Lk. 11:34). If the internet is causing you to stumble, set filters on what you watch. Do you have boundaries to control what you see?
God’s command for Moses to anoint the priests. After revealing to Moses the importance of anointing the Tabernacle with the oil of the Spirit, God directed Moses to anoint the priests with holy oil as well: “12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 13 You shall put the holy garments on Aaron and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may minister as a priest to Me. 14 You shall bring his sons and put tunics on them; 15 and you shall anoint them even as you have anointed their father, that they may minister as priests to Me; and their anointing will qualify them for a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.’ 16 Thus Moses did; according to all that the Lord had commanded him, so he did.” (Ex. 40:12-15). Between Exodus 40 verses 9 through 15, the Hebrew word “mashach” (translated as “anointing oil” and “anoint”) appears exactly eight times in connection with the Tabernacle and the priests. In the Bible, the number eight symbolizes new beginnings. The anointing upon the Tabernacle and the priests symbolizes a new beginning for every believer in Christ.
You are an anointed priest for God. As a believer, you are automatically part of His holy priesthood: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Pet. 2:9, 5). “[A]nd He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father-- to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:6). As a holy priesthood, you are a co-builder in building God’s Church on earth: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God's building.” (1 Cor. 3:9). While the anointing of the Tabernacle speaks to the importance of keeping your mind and actions pure, your anointing as a priest speaks to your willingness to serve God as a co-builder of His Church. “Then [Jesus] said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’” (Matt. 9:37-38; Lk. 10:2-3). “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (Jo. 4:35). This is Jesus’ Great Commission in every believer’s life (Matt. 28:16-20). Are you responding to God’s calling to serve?
Moses’ obedience in fulfilling God’s commands. After God gave His final instructions for assembling the Tabernacle, God reveals that Moses was obedient in every detail: “17 Now in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18 Moses erected the tabernacle and laid its sockets, and set up its boards, and inserted its bars and erected its pillars. 19 He spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent on top of it, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 20 Then he took the testimony and put it into the ark, and attached the poles to the ark, and put the mercy seat on top of the ark. 21 He brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up a veil for the screen, and screened off the ark of the testimony, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 22 Then he put the table in the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil. 23 He set the arrangement of bread in order on it before the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 24 Then he placed the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table, on the south side of the tabernacle. 25 He lighted the lamps before the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 26 Then he placed the gold altar in the tent of meeting in front of the veil; 27 and he burned fragrant incense on it, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 28 Then he set up the veil for the doorway of the tabernacle. 29 He set the altar of burnt offering before the doorway of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the meal offering, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 30 He placed the laver between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing. 31 From it Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. 32 When they entered the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 33 He erected the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the veil for the gateway of the court. Thus Moses finished the work.” (Ex. 40:17-33). God records this detail to reveal His desire for you to also be obedient.
God’s people were obedient in assembling the Tabernacle2
God desires your obedience to keep you out of bondage. To keep themselves free from bondage, the Jews had to be obedient to what God had told them (Ex. 12:50-51). According to the Apostle Paul, you are a slave to whatever you serve: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Ro. 6:16; Gal. 4:7-9). Jesus also said, if you love Him, you will keep His commandments: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). Whether you follow the Law out of love instead of obligation is also a test for whether you really know God (1 Jo. 2:3). Jesus is the great “I AM” who authored the Ten Commandments (Jo. 8:58; Ex. 3:14). His Covenant was meant to protect your heart from its evil desires. Satan, however, has placed your flesh at war with God’s Spirit: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity . . .” (Gal. 5:19; 1 Tim. 1:10). In the end, you must pick that which you will serve: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt. 6:24). If you choose the flesh, you are at war with the Spirit, “he mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God . . .” (Rom. 8:7). Yet, although the battle is constant, God reveals that when you act through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, He will protect you from all types of evil: “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.” (Ps. 105:15). “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5). If you feel the flesh is attacking you and the enemy is tempting you to do evil, take refuge in Jesus by relying upon His strength: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13). Are you trying to serve two masters? If you feel trapped by sin, are you turning to Jesus?
God’s Shekinah glory enters the Tabernacle. After the Jews built the Tabernacle in strict obedience to God’s commands, God’s Shekinah glory entered the Tabernacle: “34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Ex. 40:34-35). This was an actual event in Jewish history. It also foreshadowed the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for every true believer in Jesus Christ.
Part of God’s Shekinah glory dwells in you. The place where God’s Shekinah glory dwelt changed through the Bible. While in the wilderness, this chapter reveals that His Shekinah glory was in the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:35). Yet, after the Philistines captured the Ark, “The glory is departed from Israel.” (1 Sam. 4:22). His Shekinah glory later entered Israel’s first Temple after Solomon dedicated it (2 Chron. 5:3; 7:1-4; 1 Kgs. 8:10-11; Ezra 3:1-4). His Shekinah glory left again because of Israel’s sins. Ezekiel later prophesized that the Shekinah glory would return with the Messiah (Ez. 43:1-5). While Jesus was on Earth, He fulfilled this prophesy by becoming the dwelling place of God’s glory and the place for our worship. Jesus then gave His glory to us: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;” (Jo. 17:22). Today, God’s Holy Spirit dwells within every believer (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:22; Heb. 3:6; Rom. 13:14; 2 Tim. 1:14). Whenever two or more are gathered in His name, His presence is there: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20). Today, the appointed place for worship is not a “place” but a “gathering.” It is any place where you congregate with two or more believers to pray in Jesus’ name. A believer must therefore not forsake the fellowship of other believers (Heb. 10:25). Are you also making yourself accountable in a small group? It is only when you pray together with others in Jesus’ name that His Shekinah glory is fully manifested.
The special future role for the Temple Mount. Although the Bible is clear that God’s Shekinah glory has moved at different times to different places, there is one place where it will return to. That is the Temple Mount in Israel. God made a promise that His eyes would forever be placed on the Temple Mount: “The LORD said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.’” (1 Kgs. 9:3; 2 Chr. 33:7). On the ninth day of the fifth month in 70 A.D, a day which later became known as the “fast of Av” (“Tisha B’Av”) (Zech. 7:3), the Romans burned the temple. Centuries later, the Muslims built the Dome El Rock on the grounds of the Temple Mount. In the future, the devil plans to occupy a temple that will one day be rebuilt and declare himself god (2 Thess. 2:1-3; Matt. 24:15). That will mark the beginning of the Great Tribulation on earth. After Jesus returns, God’s Shekinah glory will again be present on a rebuilt Temple (Micah 4:1-8; Zech. 14:3-9). In heaven, you will also see the Shekinah glory of God the Father and Jesus Christ without a veil (1 Jo. 3:2). You “will see His face. . . [and] the Light of God (“Shekinah glory”) will illumine them forever and ever.” (Rev. 22:5). In 1947, after almost 2,000 years in exile, Israel became a country. It now controls the land surrounding the Temple Mount, and there are groups actively seeking to rebuild the Temple. It is safe to assume that we are living in the end times. Are you living your life as if the Lord could return at any moment?
God’s guidance for the Jews during their journey. After filing the Tabernacle with His Shekinah glory, God reveals that His holy pillar of light guided the Jews during their entire 40-year journey: “36 Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; 37 but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up.” (Ex. 40:36-37; same 13:21-22; 14:19). When they followed His guidance, He provided for them. For example, He transformed the waters of Marah to provide drinking water (Ex. 15:22-27). He then provided manna and quail in the wilderness (Ex. 16:1-8). He even protected the Jews’ feet from swelling (Dt. 8:4). God is faithful to protect you when you follow His will. He gave us the lengthy record of His provision for the Jews to so that you would trust Him.
Jesus will also guide you and protect you in the wilderness when you do His will. Like God did for the Jews, Jesus promises to provide for you and guide you. He is your manna and your spiritual food (Jo. 6:35; Matt. 6:31). He is the “rock” who gives you the water of contentment in your spiritual wilderness (Jo. 4:14; 6:36; 7:37-38; 1 Cor. 10:3-4). He clothes you (Matt. 6:30). He is also “the rock of our salvation” (Ps. 95:1; Dt. 32:3-4; Isa. 26:4). Likewise, He is a rock and a shield for all who take refuge in Him (Ps. 18:30; 2 Sam. 22:3, 31). Jesus says not to worry about your provision (Matt. 6:34). You must “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33). To keep you on the right path, He has left you with His Word to guide you: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105). You also have the Holy Spirit to interpret the Word and guide you: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, . . . He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:26). If you will submit and obey the Spirit, He will guide you on your path.
God’s continual presence in the Jews’ lives. Finally, God concludes the book of Exodus by revealing that His holy cloud of fire was with the Jews during their journey through the wilderness: “38 For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.” (Ex. 40:38). At the end of his life, as part of Moses’ encouragement to the people, he also advised that God “will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6(b)). “The Book of Exodus ends with great hope and trust in God. Though Israel was in the middle of a desolate desert, had fierce enemies in the Promised Land, and was weak and liable to sin and rebellion, God was with them. This gave them great cause for faith and confidence.” (David Guzik on Exodus 40).5 No matter how much they rebelled, His cloud was a symbol of hope. He would love them no matter what they did to rebel against Him. The same is true with you.
God will also never leave or forsake you. The writer of Hebrews later quoted Moses’ final words to encourage believers never to lose hope and turn to the unholy spirits of the world, like avarice, greed, and coveting: “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”’ (Heb. 13:5). If you are facing desperate times, never let the flesh allow you to covet the things of the flesh. Instead, allow God to fill you with the Holy Spirit to find true contentment. Always find hope in His promise to be with you and protect you. He delivered you from bondage so that you could enjoy fellowship with Him. He just wants your faith to trust Him and your obedience to walk according to His will.
Use your covenant relationship to walk in fellowship with God. If the point of the Tabernacle was to free the Jews and restore them, the final lesson was to use that freedom to walk in fellowship with God. When their relationship with God was proper, “Abraham and Isaac walked with God.” (Gen. 48:15). After receiving God’s blessing, Abraham walked with Yahweh throughout the Promised Land and built an altar to symbolize his fellowship with Him: “17 Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you. 18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.” (Gen. 13:17-18). The name Hebron translates as “communion.” He was in communion with God because he did the Father’s will and used the spiritual inheritance that God made available to him. God later gave Abraham two directives when He affirmed His Covenant with Him. He was to “[w]alk before Me, and be blameless.” (Gen. 17:1(b)). Both Enoch and Noah also “walked with God.” (Gen. 5:22, 24; 6:9). Before his fall, Adam also walked with God. This suggested not just piety, but also fellowship. Sin broke this fellowship between God and Adam’s descendants. Yet, through Jesus’ blood, you too can “walk” with Him in fellowship (Dt. 5:33; 8:6). When you sin, you don’t lose your salvation. But you can fall out of fellowship.
Walk in fellowship with God using His Spiritual gifts for His Kingdom. Like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob / Israel, and the Jews, you are also called to walk in fellowship with God. This includes using His Spiritual gifts for His Kingdom. There are seven ways to walk in fellowship with God. First, this requires that you walk by faith in Jesus and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7; Col. 2:6; Gal. 5:16). Second, this requires that you trust the Lord with all your heart as opposed to leaning upon your own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). Third, this requires that you walk in obedience as God commands you (Dt. 5:33; Zech. 3:7; Job 22:21). Fourth, this requires that you read the Word and pray regularly so that the Holy Spirit may be a lamp to your feet and guide your path (Ps. 119:105; Jo. 14:26). Fifth, this requires that you walk with purity as a “living sacrifice” and a “new creation” for Him (Ro. 12:1-2; Ps. 119:133; Jam. 4:8; Ro. 13:13; 2 Cor. 5:17). Sixth, this requires that you perform the “good works” of love, unity, kindness, justice, mercy, and encouragement that God has prepared in advance for you (Eph. 2:10; 1 Jo. 4:8; Micah 6:8; Amos 3:3). Finally, when your walk fails you, repent of your sins so that He may cleanse you of your sins (1 Jo. 1:9). If you are not walking in fellowship with Him, pray for the Spirit to guide you.
Jesus also wants you to desire His fellowship. Like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob / Israel, and the Jews, you too are called to seek fellowship with Jesus: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). Jesus also offered to believers that they could enjoy spiritual intimacy with Him, symbolized by dining together with Him: ‘“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”’ (Rev. 3:20). Christ offered this so that you could find both fellowship and peace through Him (Jo. 16:33). Without His fellowship, your peace will be only temporary and easily broken (Eph. 2:13-15; Ro. 5:1). When you are in fellowship with Him, He offers the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil 4:7). Sadly, many believers have been led to believe that being saved is the end-all be-all of being a Christian. Yet, it is only the first step in a person’s walk with Jesus. If you want fellowship with Him, you must accept His knock on the door of your heart. Are you opening your heart to Jesus to allow Him to keep you in full fellowship and to give you peace?