Exodus
1-16 How to Set up the Tabernacle 17-33 Moses Erects the Tabernacle 34-38 The Cloud Fills the Tabernacle
How to Set up the Tabernacle

1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 3You shall place the ark of the testimony there, and you shall screen the ark with the veil. 4You shall bring in the table and arrange what belongs on it; and you shall bring in the lampstand and mount its lamps 5Moreover, you shall set the gold altar of incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the veil for the doorway to the tabernacle. 6You shall set the altar of burnt offering in front of the doorway of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 7You shall set the laver between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. 8You shall set up the court all around and hang up the veil for the gateway of the court. 9Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and shall consecrate it and all its furnishings; and it shall be holy. 10You shall anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, and the altar shall be most holy. 11You shall anoint the laver and its stand, and consecrate it. 12Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 13You shall put the holy garments on Aaron and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may minister as a priest to Me. 14You shall bring his sons and put tunics on them; 15and you shall anoint them even as you have anointed their father, that they may minister as priests to Me; and their anointing will qualify them for a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.” 16Thus Moses did; according to all that the LORD had commanded him, so he did.

The moment of its establishment heralds a new beginning: “The first day of the first month.” The often-repeated use of anointing oil (verses 9-11,13,159Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and shall consecrate it and all its furnishings; and it shall be holy.10You shall anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, and the altar shall be most holy.11You shall anoint the laver and its stand, and consecrate it.13You shall put the holy garments on Aaron and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may minister as a priest to Me.15and you shall anoint them even as you have anointed their father, that they may minister as priests to Me; and their anointing will qualify them for a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”) recalls our incessant need for the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit, without whom the finest work is unacceptable to God. Only what emerges in our lives as the fruit of the Holy Spirit is valuable to God.

In verse 1616Thus Moses did; according to all that the LORD had commanded him, so he did. we read the starting point, which keeps coming back: to do everything as the LORD has commanded and not to act according to one’s own insight.


Moses Erects the Tabernacle

17Now in the first month of the second year, on the first [day] of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18Moses erected the tabernacle and laid its sockets, and set up its boards, and inserted its bars and erected its pillars. 19He spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent on top of it, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 20Then he took the testimony and put [it] into the ark, and attached the poles to the ark, and put the mercy seat on top of the ark. 21He brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up a veil for the screen, and screened off the ark of the testimony, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 22Then he put the table in the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil. 23He set the arrangement of bread in order on it before the LORD, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 24Then he placed the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table, on the south side of the tabernacle. 25He lighted the lamps before the LORD, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 26Then he placed the gold altar in the tent of meeting in front of the veil; 27and he burned fragrant incense on it, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 28Then he set up the veil for the doorway of the tabernacle. 29He set the altar of burnt offering [before] the doorway of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the meal offering, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 30He placed the laver between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing. 31From it Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. 32When they entered the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 33He erected the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the veil for the gateway of the court. Thus Moses finished the work.

The workers prepared everything, but Moses erects the house of God. Not only does he erect it, he also performs a service in it. Thus we see that when he has placed the table in the holy place, he also arranges the bread on it before the LORD. We see the same with the lampstand. When he has put it in its place, he lights the lamps before the LORD. And when he has put the golden altar in its place, he burns fragrant incense on it. After placing the altar of burnt offering he offers the burnt offering and the meal offering on it. When he has placed the laver, he puts water in it for washing, and then he and Aaron and his sons wash their hands and their feet.

Moses sets an example in everything as a servant in God’s house (Heb 3:55Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later;), he ordains the service. He acts as a builder and also as a priest, among whom he is counted, although he is not appointed as such by the LORD (Psa 99:66Moses and Aaron were among His priests,
And Samuel was among those who called on His name;
They called upon the LORD and He answered them.
). He is a picture of the Lord Jesus, Who is also greater than Moses, for Christ is “Son over His house, whose house we are” (Heb 3:66but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.).

We also see in the example that Moses also gives an example for us. It is not only important that we know what the house of God represents, that we can describe and know how to behave, but it is just as important that we also do our service in it. What we know we must also put into practice. Then when we teach others about the church it will also have value and be imitated.


The Cloud Fills the Tabernacle

34Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; 37but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. 38For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.

A mighty moment occurs, the goal of all previous work: God comes to dwell with His people. The cloud, the symbol of God’s presence, takes possession of the tabernacle. What He later says to Ezekiel regarding the temple applies from now on to the tabernacle: “[This is] the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever” (Eze 43:7a7He said to me, “Son of man, [this is] the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever. And the house of Israel will not again defile My holy name, neither they nor their kings, by their harlotry and by the corpses of their kings when they die,). For the new temple this applies “forever”. For the tabernacle this applies until the moment the ark is captured by the Philistines. Then it is “Ichabod”, which means “the glory is gone” (1Sam 4:21-2221And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband.22She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken.”). The glory returns when Solomon finishes building the temple (1Kgs 8:10-1110It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD,11so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.). However, the glory disappears again from the temple because of the sin of the people (Eze 8:44And behold, the glory of the God of Israel [was] there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain.; 9:33Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case.; 10:4,184Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.18Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.; 11:2323The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.).

But when the Lord Jesus is born, in Him the glory of God appears again on earth to dwell among His people: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:1414And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.). However, this glory was rejected in the rejection of the Lord Jesus.

After His resurrection and ascension, the glory of God came to dwell again on earth in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. He dwells in this time in the church as a whole (Eph 2:21-2221in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.; Acts 2:1-41When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.) and in the body of the individual believer (1Cor 6:1919Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?).