I was reading the last chapter of Exodus recently. In this chapter the tabernacle was put up for the first time. God chose to record this event as being done by Moses. This had to have been a crowning event for him, and God chose to honour the special relationship that He had with Moses by having Moses erect, furnish and begin the sacrificial system.
Moses couldn’t have set up the building by himself, but his heart must have rejoiced as he assisted the men as they worked. After spending 40 days and nights with God in part to get the instructions for this tabernacle, now he was actually seeing it happen.
When the erection was finished, the furnishing began with the placement of the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies. As Moses stood by the ark, he must have thought of the time that he spent with God on the mountain and of seeing the glory of God. He set in the ark the 10 Commandments that God wrote Himself and must have thought of the righteousness of God. He set in it the bowl of manna and remembered God’s provision of freedom from Egypt and provision for daily needs. He set on the ark the mercy seat and praised God for His mercy. He must have rejoiced that the holy and righteous God was making a way for the people to understand God better through this tabernacle. As he closed the beautiful curtains, he must have thought of how approachable and yet unapproachable the holy God was. Sin blocks the access, but it was not a permanent block. It was just a curtain that could easily be moved, but it couldn’t happen yet. The provision for access didn’t happen here.
Moses turned to set the bread in order on the table of shewbread. He was reminded of the promises that God had kept – 12 tribes protected and in order. This tabernacle was given to them to point them to the Redeemer who had been promised. Then he lit the candlestick. The light reflected off the golden threads that formed the cherubim. The beauty of the light must again have reminded Moses of God’s glory. How Moses’ heart must have desired that the people would have the light of understanding of God. Then he stepped back and lit the incense on the ark of incense. As the scent began to fill the room, he must have praised God that a relationship with Him could be just as sweet and filling as the scent that filled that room. He must have turned a viewed that lovely room filled with golden light and beautiful scent and thought of God was is holy, righteous, faithful, beautiful. His heart must have rejoiced that now the people would be able to see a little more clearly these and more truths about God because of the tabernacle. Then he closed the curtain on that beautiful room. God was accessible, but the access wasn’t in place.
Moses turned to the bright outside and set up the altar. Access couldn’t happen without the sacrifice, the shed blood. Moses had the privilege of offering that first sacrifice. He must have felt great joy, because now the people could understand better that sin is a terrible thing and that the result of sin is death. This sacrifice that was only a temporary solution for sin demonstrated that God wanted people to be released from the punishment and guilt of their sin. After the sacrifice Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons washed using the water from the bronze laver. Cleansing – just what the sacrifice did for sin.
Moses must have turned and looked at the tabernacle with a heart full of gratitude to God. Now the people would be able to understand more clearly. God is holy, righteous, loving, faithful and so much more. Moses must have thought back over his life from the burning bush to standing before Pharaoh to leading the children of Israel out of Egypt to crossing the Red Sea to meeting with God on Mt. Sinai. He was grateful that he had given his life for God’s use. The joy was not that he was a great man – he was a murderer and later his anger and pride would get the best of him and he would not enter the Promised Land. The joy was not in being the leader of a lot of people- there were possibly a million or more people. The joy was in knowing and serving God. Looking at the tabernacle, the visual representation of truths about God, Moses’ heart rejoiced. He more than anyone else must have recognized that this building and the work done in it pointed to the Redeemer to come who would deal with sin permanently.
Encouraging Words: Serve God with all your heart. Rejoice in His accessibility. Recognize that sin will make Him inaccessible, so we need to take care of sin in our lives right away. Thank the Lord that Jesus’ death on the cross took care of sin’s punishment permanently for all who believe that great truth. Go to God with a repentant, humble heart, and learn more about Him in His Word.