Exodus 40:1-38

The closing chapter of Exodus falls into three sections. First, verses 1-15 which give the instructions delivered to Moses by the Lord, as to the erection of the tabernacle and its contents and the installing of the priests. Second, verses 16-33, the record of the careful obedience of Moses, so that everything was carried out in accordance with the divine instructions.

Verse 33 ends with the words, "So Moses finished the work." This carries our minds on to Hebrews 3: 5 where we are reminded that "Moses verily was faithful in all His [God's] house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after." The whole tabernacle system was a testimony in type and picture of the realities which have been established in Christ and in His sacrificial work; hence the faithfulness of Moses in carrying out everything according to God's word, while the work was in progress, and then finishing the work without any omissions, was of prime importance.

But we must again remind our readers that we now have the great realities, which were typified, fully revealed in the New Testament, and they control our understanding of the types. We must not fall into the mistake of attempting to conform New Testament realities to Old Testament shadows. If this be attempted we easily travel out of the realm of Divine truth into the region of human imagination.

The third section, verses 34-38, records how the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, when all was finished, and what the results of that filling were. The first result of that filling was that man was wholly excluded. Even the faithful Moses was unable to enter where the glory of Jehovah abode. Let us contrast this scene with what the Apostle Paul could record as to himself in 2 Corinthians 12: 1-5. In that passage he speaks of himself as, "a man in Christ." A more true servant of God than Moses never lived, yet his service was carried out some fifteen centuries before Christ appeared, and accomplished the work which made it possible for anyone to be spoken of as a man in Christ. What we see, as we close the book of Exodus, is that no man of Adam's race, even the finest specimen thereof, has any standing in the presence of the glory of God. That great verse, Romans 3: 23, is illustrated here.

But we also see that, though man cannot stand before the glory, he may yet have from it all the guidance that he needs. Israel was in the trackless wilderness, and left to themselves they would have aimlessly wandered about. As it was, their wanderings were controlled. They moved or rested as the cloud of glory indicated, and so all was ordered for their instruction and discipline.