We have finally come to the last chapter of Exodus. It has been a long, good journey through this action packed book. Now as we look at the final chapter, there are a couple important things to highlight.
“In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected.”
In the first month of the second year, Moses set up the completed Tabernacle according to the directions given by the Lord. This is a significant date to note. If you remember back to Exodus 12 when God was instituting the Passover, He set the Israelites a new calendar and made the month they were delivered from Egypt the first month of the year. Now, on the first month and nearly one year after that victory day, the Tabernacle is completed and erected and God fills it with His Presence.
A lot has happened over the past year. The Israelites went from being slaves to becoming a nation. They experienced the provision of God and the consequences of sin. God established a covenant with them and made them a solemn promise to lead them into the land of their forefathers. For many months, the Lord’s glory had settled on top of Mount Sinai, but now He was coming near.
“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 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. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 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.”
The Tabernacle was not just a place of meeting and place of ritual. It was actually the physical dwelling of God among the Israelites. God promised Moses that He would go before the Israelites and lead them, and now He was making good on that promise. God left the lofty heights of the mountain and moved His Presence into the neighborhood, straight into the Israelites’ camp.
Notice that God’s Presence never left the Israelites. Throughout all their wanderings, the glory of the LORD filled that Tabernacle day and night. Even after the people rebelled, God remained faithful. He did not remove His Presence, but dwelt among them for forty years.
Imagine the wonder and awe the Israelites must have felt to see God’s glory in their midst every morning when they woke up. What comfort and security it must have brought them as they faced an unknown landscape and unknown future. The Israelites got to physically see the manifestation of God’s Presence and were visually led by the Lord every day of their journey. When God moved forward, the Israelites went out. When God stayed in the camp, the Israelites stayed put. Every day their path was directed by God Himself.
This is a beautiful picture of what God wants to do in our lives, but in an even more intimate way. While God dwelt among the Israelites in a special tent, through the atoning work of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit, God now wants to live among us in our hearts. Jesus descended the lofty heights of heaven and walked among us so that God could move into and put His glory into our hearts. And just as He was faithful to never leave the Israelites, God promises to never leave or forsake us. As Jesus promised, “behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
And just as God directed the Israelites while living in their midst, so also He wants to work in and through our hearts showing us the path to walk. The indwelling of His Spirit is not meant to just give us warm, fuzzy feelings, but to empower us to walk in boldness, courage, and hope. We can face an unknown future and a foreign world because our God goes before us and dwells among us.
Therefore, let’s remember that just as God was faithful and constant when He dwelt among Israel, He will be faithful to us. And may we have even more confidence since our God not only dwells among us, but within us. So let’s fully trust our faithful God and walk in the assurance that our God goes with us and directs our steps.
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