Message 13: A Place for God among Men
Exodus 40:1–38 (CSB)
SETTING UP THE TABERNACLE
40 The Lord spoke to Moses: 2 “You are to set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month., 3 Put the ark of the testimony there and screen off the ark with the curtain. 4 Then bring in the table and lay out its arrangement; also bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5 Place the gold altar for incense in front of the ark of the testimony. Put up the screen for the entrance to the tabernacle. 6 Position the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting. 7 Place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 8 Assemble the surrounding courtyard and hang the screen for the gate of the courtyard.
9 “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it along with all its furnishings so that it will be holy. 10 Anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar so that it will be especially holy. 11 Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate it.
12 “Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 13 Clothe Aaron with the holy garments, anoint him, and consecrate him, so that he can serve me as a priest. 14 Have his sons come forward and clothe them in tunics. 15 Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so that they may also serve me as priests. Their anointing will serve to inaugurate a permanent priesthood for them throughout their generations.”
16 Moses did everything just as the Lord had commanded him. 17 The tabernacle was set up in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month., 18 Moses set up the tabernacle: He laid its bases, positioned its supports, inserted its crossbars, and set up its pillars. 19 Then he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent on top of it, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
20 Moses took the testimony and placed it in the ark, and attached the poles to the ark. He set the mercy seat on top of the ark. 21 He brought the ark into the tabernacle, put up the curtain for the screen, and screened off the ark of the testimony, just as the Lord had commanded him.
22 Moses placed the table in the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the curtain. 23 He arranged the bread on it before the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded him. 24 He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle 25 and set up the lamps before the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded him.
26 Moses installed the gold altar in the tent of meeting, in front of the curtain, 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, just as the Lord had commanded him. 28 He put up the screen at the entrance to the tabernacle. 29 He placed the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, and offered the burnt offering and the grain offering on it, just as the Lord had commanded him.
30 He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing. 31 Moses, Aaron, and his sons washed their hands and feet from it. 32 They washed whenever they came to the tent of meeting and approached the altar, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
33 Next Moses set up the surrounding courtyard for the tabernacle and the altar and hung a screen for the gate of the courtyard. So Moses finished the work.
THE LORD’S GLORY
34 The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
36 The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey. 37 If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey.
Introduction: The Work and the Book are Finished.
- Israel has been delivered.
- Egypt is in the past and the Promised Land in the future.
- God has performed miracles, signs, and wonders.
- God has spoken.
- For the better part of a year (8-9 months), Israel has camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
- After they received God’s commandments, they devoted themselves to the creating of a sacred space where God would dwell.
- Now, all of the arrangements are complete.
- As we conclude our series, I’m amazed at the timing of where we are as a church.
- Much like Israel, there is Promise in front of us.
- What we decide to do in the coming days will greatly determine if we experience and realize the plans God has for us.
- You see, God can place Promised Lands, victories, and blessings in front of us.
- These things can be God’s will for our lives and our destinies.
- However, if we walk in disobedience, we miss out on what God had planned for us.
- I know how Israel’s story goes.
- I know of their disobedience at the cusp of the Promised Land.
- I know that a generation dies short of the Promise.
- I know that the future generations of Israel will struggle with the unbelief of their parents, resulting in gross idolatry and exile.
- And it’ easy for us to sit back and judge Israel from afar.
- But I sense that we are in a similar place.
- You and I are on the cusp of experiencing what God is wanting to do.
- But I do not know how we will respond!
- Will we respond with obedience and willingness?
- OR will we say, “this is a step too far” and walk away?
- Exodus ends with God’s presence coming down in the middle of Israel.
- Yet, the last words regard the “stages of their journey”.
- In other words, they haven’t arrived, they’ve only just begun.
- I feel this for our church: We have not arrived, but the “stages of our journey” has just begun.
Let’s dive into this passage this morning.
1. The Established Tabernacle was the work of a Prophet.
- Once all of the furnishings were finished, it was Moses’ task to put them in their place.
- Going forward, the Levites and the priests would be responsible for maintaining and running the Tabernacle.
- But this first time, it was the job of a prophet not of a priest to set the House of God in order.
- Moses was a prophet, not a priest.
- Moses spoke with and for God.
- Moses was tasked with charging ahead, declaring God’s Word, and ensuring that the Commandments of God were obeyed.
- Deuteronomy 34:10–12 (CSB)
10 No prophet has arisen again in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. 11 He was unparalleled for all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do against the land of Egypt—to Pharaoh, to all his officials, and to all his land— 12 and for all the mighty acts of power and terrifying deeds that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
- Moses’ prophetic ministry was what we call a “TYPE”.
- A “Type” is an Old Testament allusion to a New Testament fulfillment.
- In other words, Moses’ ministry, as great as it was, pointed toward the ministry of Jesus.[i]
- Moses glimpsed the hope of a greater prophet in his prophetic prayer of Deut.
Deuteronomy 18:15–19 (CSB)
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 This is what you requested from the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not continue to hear the voice of the Lord our God or see this great fire any longer, so that we will not die!’ 17 Then the Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 I will hold accountable whoever does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name.
- Moses’ ministry points us to One that was far greater than anything or anyone.
- Jesus is the fulfilment of that.
- Jesus is simultaneously Prophet, Priest, and King.
- Because the role of prophets is to declare truth and enact covenants, Jesus is the greatest of prophets.
- The life and ministry of Moses causes us to look forward to the life and ministry of Jesus, the Greatest Prophet.
- Through Jesus, we have received the Words that God has called us to live by.
- Through Jesus, we are held accountable for our obedience or disobedience.
- And if people were judged by disobeying the words of Moses and commandments written on stone, how much more will we be held accountable for disobeying Jesus?
- Because of Moses’ unique role, only he could set up the Tabernacle this first time.
2. Moses ordered the Tabernacle from the inside out.
- Moses started with the holiest of places, and worked his way outward.
- Moses started with the holiest places so that they would not be defiled by the lesser activities.
- As a person moved away from the center, the access increased as the “holiness, set apartness” diminished.
- The closer you came to the Holy of Holies, the more exclusive it became.
- Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch, but I couldn’t help but picture the workings of God in our own lives.
- The exterior of our lives is the easiest to work on.
- It’s the exterior everyone can see and most people have access to.
- Thus, it receives the first and majority of our attention.
- But the internal, hidden work is the most important.
- It’s what happens inside that matters most and needs the most attention.
- We can change our behaviors.
- But only Jesus can change our hearts.
- Jesus said, “out of the abundance of our hearts, a man speaks.”
- Out of our hearts comes all sorts of wickedness.
- Therefore, it should be no surprise that Salvation sets its first sights upon our inward life.
- And it should be no surprise that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit deals first with our minds and tongue.
- Religion has spent millions of hours and words correcting the outside of man.
- The Jews practiced circumcision, but only through the lens of an outward connection to God.
- But the New Testament says that true circumcision is of the heart.
- The heart, the mind, the will, and the emotions, are that part which only God can deal with.
- As we yield our lives to God, we should not be surprised that He invests much of His attention to the inward workings.
- Moses set the stage for God to dwell on the inside before He ordered those parts which everyone could see.
- What good are the outer curtains if the inside is empty?
- What good is an outward appearance if the inward life is dead?
- Jesus accused the religious leaders of being whitewashed tombs: Clean on the outside, dead on the inside.
- As we prepare for God’s glory, don’t neglect the most essential work.
3. “Glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
- In just a few words, Moses describes what must have been an amazing moment.
- The Cloud and Fire that had been with them from the beginning moves.
- The Spirit of God moves to the center of the camp, (the heart of the camp), taking up residence in the newly dedicated Tabernacle.
- From this day forward, the Pillar and the Fire were over the Tabernacle day and night.
- The Glory of the Lord filling the Tabernacle points us forward to two future events.
- Dedication of the Temple.
- When God allowed Solomon to build a Temple, a permanent place of worship, He followed a similar pattern.
- After the work is finished, Solomon then dedicates the Temple.
- At that time, the glory filled the Temple and, just like Moses, no one could approach God at the dedication.
- God marked that Temple as a place of holiness and presence.
- Much later on, however, the Tabernacle and the Temple were replaced by the Dedication of the Believer.
- On the day of Pentecost, God’s presence came upon them.
- There, God made His presence known in cloven tongues of fire and the Presence of God filled not only the PLACE but the PEOPLE.
- From that day forward, each believer becomes the Temple of the Holy Spirit, a place where God speaks and His presence and Glory abides.
- God inhabits prepared places.
- Exodus ends with God’s presence.
- Early in Exodus 1 & 2, it seems God is absent.
- But then He sees their plight and hears their cry.
- Then, for almost 40 chapters, God is working out the details so that He could “Be their God, and Israel His people.”
- And now that the Commandments are given and the place prepared, God comes among them in an unmistakable way.
- The Story of Exodus is not about the plagues, the miracles, or other signs and wonders.
- The Story of the Exodus is about God’s Presence coming among His people.
- It’s all about God being WITH Israel.
- Part of that process is preparing for God’s presence.
- The same is true for the Holy Spirit.
- We are not accidentally filled with God’s Spirit.
- We do not accidentally stumble upon Holiness.
- We must prepare our lives for God to dwell.
4. The Presence of God prepared them for the “Stages of their journey”
- God’s presence was visible throughout all the stages of their journey.
- This is not the end of God’s plans but a continuing.
- There were Promises to receive, giants to slay, and fortified cities to conquer.
- Israel’s Promised Land was still inhabited by the enemy.
- BUT NOW! God’s presence was with them and among them.
- A year before, they were a group of enslaved people who could not defeat the enemies along their path (remember that from earlier?)
- But now, they were equipped and prepared to dispossess the enemy.
- Just as Israel did not leave that place until the Glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle, Jesus told His followers not to leave the Upper Room until they received the Promised Holy Spirit.
- I dare say that many of us are different than we were a year or two ago.
- Our walk with Jesus is so much closer.
- Our hearts are purer.
- We are drastically different than before.
- So what is the next stage in our journey?
- Perhaps God is calling many of us to go to where the enemy is and to give Him is eviction notice!
- Perhaps there are areas of your life and world that God has promised but the enemy has its hold.
- The time is coming to proclaim the name of Jesus over those places and to see the victory.
- But to do that, we must have the Presence and the Power of God in your midst.
- This summer, on Wednesday nights, we will be looking at Church history and hearing the stories of whole cities closing for prayer meetings, cities like Denver and Portland.
- We will hear stories of coal mines needing new mules because the miners stopped cussing, and the mules couldn’t understand language without profanity.
- Perhaps many of us have never pursued God’s power and presence because we have underestimated what God can do with people who are fully committed to Him!
- I remind you that The 120 in Acts were saved.
- They had known Jesus personally.
- There was a world for them to save and to compel to come to Jesus.
- There were false gods to confront and kingdoms to be changed.
- But they could never have changed the world UNTIL they were empowered with the Promise from on high.
- We all need a relationship with Jesus AND the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
- Many Christians are ok with Jesus and scared of His Spirit.
- What they don’t realize is all that they missing.
Close: We can’t move on until the Spirit moves!
- We have become so comfortable with the Spirit not moving, that when He does we are scared and don’t know what to do.
- Can I declare today that we need the empowering and help of God’s Spirit today!
- There are battles to be fought that YOU WILL LOSE without the Spirit’s empowering.
- We cannot choose the battles we have to fight.
- But we can choose how we fight.
- Not by might nor by Power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.
- Last week, I did not have you come to the front.
- I wanted to show you another way to seek God.
- But today, I feel it necessary to invite everyone who will to join me across the front.
- And may we pray, “Fill me with your Spirit.”
- Seek God for the sake of your family.
- Seek God for the sake of America
- Seek God for the sake of this region.
- Seek God for the sake of your victory.
[i] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/jesus-prophet-moses/ accessed 6/8/22