This morning my Bible reading was Exodus 39-40. Here they are again.. more details on designs, craftsmanship etc. of what? Priestly garments and tabernacles! What do these things have to do with my life here and now? There is a ‘refrain’ to these chapters. When we read the Bible, we need to pay attention to repeated words. It’s not redundantly pointless. They are repeated for a reason.
There are 18 ‘as the Lord commanded (Moses/him)’ in the 2 chapters: 7 for the priestly garments and 11 concerning the tabernacle. 2x ‘did everything as the Lord commanded’ is mentioned – one of the Israelites (39:32) and the other of Moses (40:16).
Moses was quite a good secretary and messenger. Imagine the skilled designers/craftsman/sewers/builders/carpenters did everything as the Lord commanded Moses. (for both the garments and the tabernacle with all the small details.)
And so Moses finished the work. v.40:33 (Not only he, but all the people with him.)
Most important of all, their works had a grand culmination.
The Glory of the Lord
40:34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
God’s presence and my obedience. Which comes first? It would seem that obedience comes before God’s presence. The cloud settled after Moses finished the work. Yet, in all the acts of obedience was not the Lord with them? Yes, He was. When God calls, He equips. When He equips, He is present not just to give and leave us on our own, He stays with us all through the process.
God’s presence equips us to obey. But obedience “is not an end in itself. Rather, it moves us forward ….to Yahweh tabernacle-ing among His people Israel. The completion of obedience prepares the way for Yahweh to descend upon the Tabernacle in a cloud of glory (40:34-35).” Steve Rodeheaver
When I obey, I obey in assurance of God’s presence before my act of obedience. When I obey, I experience Emmanuel all through the process – climaxing in the cloud of glory. That then is the goal of my obedience: the presence of God’s glory in all who are with me.