The Glory of the LORD Filled the Tabernacle

40: 34-38

    DIG: Why couldn’t Moses have installed the Shechinah glory himself? How important was the physical presence of God to the Israelites here compared to their exodus from Egypt, or the giving of the Torah? Why? What purpose for the Tabernacle did the Shechinah glory confirm? What role did the Shechinah glory play in confirming it when it was time to travel again?

   REFLECT: When in your life did you most noticeably feel the physical presence of the LORD? How is it made real to you now? What most reassures you about God’s presence in your life? Are you willing to move as the LORD directs?

    The promise that God would indeed dwell with His people was finally fulfilled. Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the Shechinah glory of ADONAI filled the Sanctuary. It is important to understand that the Hebrew verb translated filled is in the fientive state, which means it reflects an ongoing, dynamic situation. That means that ADONAI would be with His people on a continuous basis, and He would go with them as they traveled to the Promised Land.

    Although Moses had earlier said: Show me your glory (33:18), even he could not enter the Sanctuary of the Tabernacle, because the sight of God’s Shechinah glory within was so overwhelming and awe-inspiring (40:34-35). Only the high priest was allowed to see the Shechinah once a year on the day of Atonement (see Go - The Day of Atonement). Therefore, the Shechinah glory then dwelt over the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place. It would remain there until Solomon would build the Temple (First Kings, Chapters 9 and 10). At that time, the Shechinah glory left the Most Holy Place in the Sanctuary of the Tabernacle and took up residence in the Most Holy Place in the Temple. It would remain there until shortly before the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Ezekiel describes the three-stage departure (Ezekiel 10:3-5; 10:18-19; 11:23). When Christ returns to rule and reign for a thousand years, the Temple will be rebuilt (see my commentary on Isaiah Db - The Nine Missing Articles in Messiah's Coming Temple) and the Shechinah glory will once again dwell in the midst of the nation of Israel (Ezekiel 43:1-5).

    In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tabernacle, they would set out. But if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out – until the day it lifted. So the cloud of ADONAI was over the Tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Isra'el during their travels (40:36-38). The verbs in this paragraph are imperfects, which point to the fact that they occurred repeatedly (see Numbers Chapters 9 and 10). This was the method throughout the forty years of wilderness wanderings.

    There would be a day in the future, when Moses would see the glory of Christ in all His fullness. Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with the radiant Messiah and spoke to Him about His departure, or exodus in the Greek text of the New Covenant. Moses had led his people in an exodus from Egypt, and then, nearly fifteen hundred years later, Luke was talking about a second exodus, which Yeshua would make from this world. Sharing that moment of revelation on the mountain through sleep filled eyes were three of Jesus’ disciples. When they looked at Yeshua, they saw His glory (Luke 9:31-32) along with Moses and Elijah. Needless to say, Moses saw that glory also, and his centuries long wait had been very worthwhile. For Moses, faith had finally become sight.727

    What do the closing verses of this book have to say to us? Many times I have quoted the book of Hebrews to help us understand the book of Exodus. That is because Hebrews 3:1 through 4:13 is somewhat of a commentary on Exodus, at least more so than any other section of the New Covenant. The basic analogy that the writer to the Hebrews draws is that Israel’s desert wanderings correspond to our daily lives as we journey to our Canaan.

    Therefore, the end of Exodus is among the most applicable parts of the book. These last verses have something to say to us, since we too, have been delivered and are waiting to arrive at our final destination. We, like the Hebrews, are poised to reach our rest.

    On this journey, we follow our holy Redeemer as He leads and guides us to the Promised Land. Admittedly, there is no cloud overhead, but we have the Holy Spirit living within us. He brings us to our final destination just as surely as the cloud guided the Israelites to theirs. We should take comfort in this. ADONAI of the exodus is still guiding. He is present with His people wherever they go, not only to Canaan, but also to a better country – a heavenly one (Hebrews 11:16).

    The end of Exodus is the end of one story, but the beginning of many others. This was not only true for the Israelites, whose triumphs and tragedies we have seen, but for us as well. We who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ are also poised daily for journeys that we will take. This is the recurring theme in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. As we reach the end of Exodus, I am reminded of how Lewis ends his series, on the final page of The Last Battle, He writes,

    Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever, and which every chapter is better than the one before. This is the message of Exodus. This is the message of the Gospel.728


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