Daily Family Worship

Exodus 40: The Setting Up of the Tabernacle

by | Mar 29, 2022

exodus 40

A whole year had now passed since the Israelites had left Egypt, on that awful night when the firstborn of Egypt were destroyed. The Lord had brought them out by His power, He had guided them by His Presence, He had watched over them by His care, He had fed them by His bounty, and now He had a house set up for Himself in their midst. The people had spent the last six months working on this Tabernacle, and there could be no better beginning to their new year than to set it up so that their God might come and dwell among them. Indeed, brothers and sisters, how would we ever get through the wilderness of this world, unless the Savior Himself dwelt with His people? 

An interesting account is given of the orderly way in which everything for the Tabernacle was set up. We have seen that all its parts and all its furniture were made according to the pattern which the Lord Himself had showed to Moses when he was with Him on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights. The Tabernacle was to be a picture or foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus and His great work of redemption and salvation. It was to show Him as the sin-Bearer – dying in the place of sinners, rising from the dead to justify His people, ascending into heaven and making continual intercession for them, sending down the Holy Spirit to be their Sanctifier and Comforter, and Himself being the Light and the nourishment of His Church on earth. When the Tabernacle was made, the time for Him to take our human nature and be born into our world to die for sin was still 1,500 years away. And during all that long time, His coming and death were to be shown forth to His people by the Tabernacle and its services, until He Himself would appear.

But the Tabernacle in the wilderness was not set up for the benefit of the Israelites alone; it was also meant for our learning. It was intended to teach us, as Christians, that the everlasting Gospel has always been the same! The daily sacrifices – the lambs that were offered up, morning and evening – all pointed forward to the great Sacrifice of the Lamb of God, which had been determined upon in heaven before the world was made. And the Christian’s feast of thanksgiving – the Lord’s Supper – points us back to the same great theme of Christ’s willing sacrifice of Himself to put away sin. Now we ought to be able to see quite plainly why the grand history of God’s Creation in six days is told very generally in a single chapter, while the little Tabernacle and its services take up a great many chapters! It was not necessary for the salvation of fallen human beings to be given every minute detail of how God supernaturally formed the earth from nothing. But it was and is very important for us to observe all the details of how the lost world was to be redeemed – which were foreshadowed in the pictures and symbols of the Tabernacle. It is everything to us to know how lost sinners can be saved! And in order to teach us that truth, great care was taken to build the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and to describe it for us. The Tabernacle was like a picture-book, dimly teaching God’s glad tidings to the Jews in those early times; and in our day, it is the Lord’s Pattern for us to measure Christianity by. Whenever we encounter a teaching that does not agree with the truth that is taught and pictured in the account of the Tabernacle, it must be wrong, for it is not God’s Gospel!

After the Tabernacle was fully set up, the Lord showed His approval by taking possession of it for His dwelling-place, and by blessing His people with His Presence among them. The Pillar of cloud and fire removed from its place in front of the camp, and rested upon the sanctuary. As the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle, so dazzling was the light and so dreadful the fire, that Moses was not able to enter into the sacred tent until the splendor was abated. But what Moses could not do, our Lord Jesus has done! God caused Him to draw near to Him, and now He has invited us to follow Him and come boldly to the mercy-seat. Being taught by the Holy Spirit to follow the example of Jesus – as well as to depend upon Him, to attend His ordinances, and to obey His precepts – we shall be kept from losing our way until we come to heaven, the habitation of His holiness! All praises to the name of Jesus!

Before we conclude our study of this precious Book of Exodus, let us give thanks to the Lord for the vast number of instances in which Moses wrote of Jesus Himself. Surely, under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, this Book will lead our souls to the Savior. It is not easy to turn away from the picture of Christ in the Tabernacle; there are still so many interesting things about it that we have not even glanced at! But we will bless the Lord for the clear light and knowledge that He has given us through the Gospel of His grace, which carries us far beyond the foretaste that was given by the Book of Exodus. And we will rejoice in the assurance that even in those days of old, many saw Jesus from afar, and found peace through the Great Sacrifice that was foreshadowed by the Tabernacle in the wilderness!

Truly, Lord, in the Tabernacle, we behold a picture of our beloved Redeemer and His glorious work of redemption for His people. In Him, all the holy things – the altar, the Ark, the mercy-seat, the showbread, the anointing oil, and the incense – have their fulfillment. May our souls be frequently found waiting at Your throne of grace, and seeking for fellowship by means of His blood and righteousness. Amen.

Join other families all around the globe! Receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day, and enjoy a FREE copy of my e-book A Call to Family Worship! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.

illustration by Oliver Denker  |  Shutterstock.com