Exodus 40:16-38. 16 This Moses did; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did. 17 In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected…. 33 And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 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. 36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
We come now to the end of our journey through Exodus. God has brought his people out in order to bring them back in. Into his presence as his possession. The people who were slaves to the Pharaoh are now servants to Yahweh. Priests before his throne. A holy nation meant to display the glories of God’s grace and salvation. How? Through the tabernacle.
So Moses did all that the Lord commanded of him…the tabernacle was erected…So Moses finished the work.
The language echoes that of Genesis 2 – “God finished his work.” Creation was complete and now God could dwell with man. God’s new Eden has been built. The new meeting place of God and man. Exodus 35-39 describe the building of the tabernacle. Those chapters can seem very redundant because they almost word for word repeat the description of the tabernacle in earlier chapters. But this shows us that Moses did things exactly as God told him. He followed the plan. He did not deviate. He finished the work.
And God was pleased. How do we know? Because the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Exodus ends on this high note. God’s glory is with them. God has come down from the mountain. He has entered their presence with his presence, his face. He is in his dwelling.
Oh, and Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because of the cloud.
Wait. That’s not a happy ending. What about Moses? What about the people? Will they get to experience God? Is God in his tent all alone, unapproachable, inaccessible?
Praise God the story continues in Leviticus.
Leviticus 1:1-2. The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock…
God’s glory will be experienced. Moses will be called into the tabernacle. The people will approach their God through sacrifice and through the mediating priests.
But the tabernacle of Exodus is just the model. You and I, the church, are the reality, the true tabernacle. The new creation. The finished work.
Avengers – Let’s finish this (warning: language).
Jesus is the better Moses who forever completed the work of God. Jesus has finished all that the Lord commanded him to do. He has redeemed his people out of their slavery to sin by his blood. Praise God, there is no more sacrifice for sins. Jesus is the better Moses who has erected his better tabernacle, the church. The final dwelling of God. And God is pleased. How do we know?
Because, just like in Exodus, his glory has filled us. Jesus has shared his glory with his church. The glory of his own resurrected life, the indestructible life of God. The life of the Trinity displayed in love and unity. This was Jesus’ high priestly prayer for us:
John 17:22-23. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
And still, just like Exodus, our reality is not yet complete. There’s a greater glory to come. Just as Exodus leaves us wanting more. More than just a cloud. More than wondering what’s behind the veil. Jesus has left us wanting more. More of him. More of his presence. More of his glory. We have not seen the fullness of the glory of God in Christ. The glory of seeing his very face. His heart transforming beauty. This is Jesus’ ultimate goal and prayer for us:
John 17:24. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
And so we wait. We wait to see the glory of God in the face of Christ. We wait to glorify God around his throne crying “Worthy is the Lamb.” But we wait with the hope of God’s glory in us. We wait in faith knowing that by that faith we have already seen the glory of the Lord in the face of Christ in our hearts (2 Cor. 4:6). We wait and we behold the glory of the Lord in the grace and truth of the cross allowing it to transform us from one degree of glory to the next (2 Cor. 3:18). We wait in love knowing that God’s love is in us and working through us by the indwelling life of Christ. We wait knowing that the work that we are waiting for is already finished. He has done it, he is doing it, he will do it.
“To live is Christ” has brought us out of our slavery and into the glorious presence of God because the glorious presence of God has been brought into us. This is the finished work of Christ in you. Therefore, wait for him with great expectations for he has done marvelous things.