Scriptures

Exodus 40

Introduction

‘Then the LORD said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.’ Exodus 40:1-5

Setting Up The Tabernacle

The setting up of the tabernacle happened in the ‘first day of the month’, which was exactly two years after their departure from Egypt.

And as we know the tabernacle had to be built according to pattern and assembled according to pattern, Exodus 25:9 / Exodus 39:43. The ark of the covenant, it’s curtain, the table, the lampstand and it’s lamps. The gold altar of incense and the entrance curtain were all to be placed exactly where God wanted them placed.

‘Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them.’ Exodus 40:6-11

These were the arrangements for all the items which were to be placed in the courtyard. The Outer Court itself was open to all Israelites to worship. Those who had been redeemed were allowed to enter, Exodus 27:9-19. For notes concerning the curtain, go to Exodus 27.

Notice the tabernacle was to be anointed when it was erected. Using a special anointing oil, Moses anointed the tabernacle in order to designate it to be holy.

Once set apart, that is sanctified, it wasn’t to be touched by anyone other than the designated priests whose job it was to transport the tabernacle from one place to another, Leviticus 8:1-13.

‘Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Then dress Aaron in the sacred garments, anoint him and consecrate him so he may serve me as priest. Bring his sons and dress them in tunics. Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.” Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded him.’ Exodus 40:12-16

These are instructions on how to arrange the items in the courtyard. The full description of this dedication ceremony for the priests is found in Leviticus 8 and Leviticus 9.

Notice that ‘their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations’. We mustn’t understand this to mean that this priesthood would be everlasting or eternal as some understand the words.

Jesus is the only everlasting high priest, Hebrews 7:17 / Hebrews 7:23-25 / Hebrews 7:28, and so, the priesthood of Aaron and his sons ended in Christ.

In the statement that Aaron’s priesthood ‘will continue throughout their generations’, God was simply stating that it wouldn’t go out of existence until He took it out of existence. When Jesus came, God terminated the existence of the priesthood of Aaron.

Moses oversees the assembly of the tabernacle and done everything the Lord commanded him.

This phrase appears eight times through this chapter, Exodus 40:16 / Exodus 40:19 / Exodus 40:21 / Exodus 40:23 / Exodus 40:25 / Exodus 40:27 / Exodus 40:29 / Exodus 40:32.

‘So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year. When Moses set up the tabernacle, he put the bases in place, erected the frames, inserted the crossbars and set up the posts. Then he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering over the tent, as the LORD commanded him.’ Exodus 40:17-19

The tabernacle goes up by setting up the boards, covering with the curtains. Notice that Moses again oversees the assembly of the tabernacle and done everything the Lord commanded him.

‘He took the tablets of the covenant law and placed them in the ark, attached the poles to the ark and put the atonement cover over it. Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle and hung the shielding curtain and shielded the ark of the covenant law, as the LORD commanded him.’ Exodus 40:20-21

The Ark of the Covenant is set in the Most Holy Place, and the veil is set in place. Moses again oversees the assembly of the tabernacle and done everything the Lord commanded him.

‘Moses placed the table in the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle outside the curtain and set out the bread on it before the LORD, as the LORD commanded him.’ Exodus 40:22-23

The table of showbread is put in the Holy Place. Moses again oversees the assembly of the tabernacle and done everything the Lord commanded him.

‘He placed the lampstand in the tent of meeting opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle and set up the lamps before the LORD, as the LORD commanded him.’ Exodus 40:24-25

The lampstand is put in the Holy Place. Moses again oversees the assembly of the tabernacle and done everything the Lord commanded him.

‘Moses placed the gold altar in the tent of meeting in front of the curtain and burned fragrant incense on it, as the LORD commanded him.’ Exodus 40:26-27

The golden altar of incense is put in the Holy Place. Moses again oversees the assembly of the tabernacle and done everything the Lord commanded him.

‘Then he put up the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.’ Exodus 40:28

The screen is hung at the entrance of the tabernacle.

‘He set the altar of burnt offering near the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, and offered on it burnt offerings and grain offerings, as the LORD commanded him.’ Exodus 40:29

The bronze altar is put in its place. Moses again oversees the assembly of the tabernacle and done everything the Lord commanded him.

‘He placed the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing, and Moses and Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet. They washed whenever they entered the tent of meeting or approached the altar, as the LORD commanded Moses.’ Exodus 40:30-32

The laver for washing is put in between the altar and the tent. Moses again oversees the assembly of the tabernacle and done everything the Lord commanded him.

‘Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.’ Exodus 40:33

The outer court is now set up. When the tabernacle was finally assembled, it was an earthly model of a heavenly reality. It was built exactly according to the pattern that God gave him, Hebrews 8:5.

It’s interesting to note that the tabernacle was really a foreshadow of the heavenly things to come.

In Revelation 4:1-6, the Ark of the Covenant, the lampstand, and the laver all correspond to a heavenly reality.

In Revelation 8:2-4, the altar of incense in heaven is mentioned.

In Isaiah 6:1-7, the tabernacle structure is implied by the mention of the temple, and the bronze altar is described.

In Hebrews 9:23-24, it tells us that at some point in time, after the cross, Jesus entered the heavenly reality represented on earth by the tabernacle and appeared in the presence of God to offer a perfect atonement for our sins.

The Glory Of The LORD

‘Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 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 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.’ Exodus 40:34-38

Once the tabernacle was erected, God visibly demonstrated His approval of what the workmen had done in fulfilling all His commandments concerning the construction. The cloud thus became a permanent feature of the tabernacle.

When the cloud moved, the tabernacle was to be moved. When it stood still in one place, the tabernacle was to remain in that place.

Notice that Moses wasn’t couldn’t enter the tabernacle, because the cloud settled on it. Solomon, when he finished building the temple experienced the same thing, he wasn’t allowed to enter it because the temple was filled with God’s glory, 1 Kings 8:10-11.

The presence of the cloud by day and the fire by night was a demonstration that God was continually with Israel. They had repented of her sin, and so, the coming of the cloud and fire was a continual reminder that God had forgiven their sin, and subsequently would be with them throughout their journeys.

God had answered Moses’ prayer, Exodus 33:14, and despite Israel’s sin, God was once again with His people, Exodus 29:45.

Israel was now ready to leave Mount Sinai and enter the promised land. Sadly, as we know because of their doubt, this would not happen until 38 years after the completion of the tabernacle.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Hebrews 12:2

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