Bible Commentary: Exodus 40

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Exodus 40

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The Finished Tabernacle Filled With God's Glory

God gave Moses explicit instruction regarding every detail of the building of the tabernacle. And the Bible makes two interesting statements regarding the care with which Moses followed these instructions. Verse 16 says, "Moses did according to all that the Lord had commanded him," while verse 33 simply says, "So Moses finished the work." Moses was a faithful man of God. He strove for excellence in everything God gave him to do. The book of Hebrews comments on his faithfulness, "Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant" (Hebrews 3:5).

The tabernacle was finally set up and its furnishings arranged on the first day of the first month, Abib or Nisan on the Hebrew Calendar, of the second year of Israel's journey out of Egypt (verses 2, 17). This was around 10 months after the people had arrived at Sinai and nearly two weeks before their second keeping of the Passover. When everything God had commanded had been completed, He came near in a dramatic descent that manifested His glory among the Israelites, filling the tabernacle with His glory so that even Moses could not enter. The appearance of God's glory is sometimes called the Shekinah or the Shekinah glory, coming from the Hebrew for "to dwell." The Nelson Study Bible states: "The glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle demonstrated His Presence with the Israelites, His significance to them, and His awe-inspiring wonder. The words of John 1:1-18 are appropriate to recall here. In the Incarnation, the glory of God was manifest not in a tent, but in His Son.... How wonderful that the Book of Exodus concludes with this image of the gracious God, hovering protectively over His people.... A faithful Israelite follower of God could see the tabernacle and realize that God was there in His splendor and power. And with Him the people advanced to Canaan, the land He had promised to them."

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