Wednesday, 5 February 2014

(37) February 6: Exodus 39-40 & Matthew 24:1-22

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider how the purpose of the tabernacle is seen.

To ponder:
It is rightly said that “God is the gospel.” It is not primarily forgiveness we are given. We are given forgiveness so that we might have God. And with God we then have all things.
            This is the conclusion of the book of Exodus. Nine months after Israel arrived at Sinai (19v1), the priests’ garments are made and the tabernacle is inspected. All is ready to deal with sin; and for the celebration of the Passover – just fourteen days away. The inspection could allude to when God looked on his creation and saw that “it was good.” And there as here, this was so that God could dwell with and walk with his people. Indeed, as happened after the creation, the people are “blessed” – a sign that God would have them know joy in his presence.
As the tabernacle is then set up the increased regularity with which we read “as the LORD commanded” stresses the need of perfection and obedience. This is the sense of everything being consecrated as holy. Like preparations for a great human monarch, it is not just that the items and priests are set-apart and purified, but that all is done in a way that is fitting for the presence of our holy God.
            The climax is his arrival, in which the completed tabernacle (tent of meeting) is filled with his glory – the manifestation of his nature. This is the point of it. It is God’s tent. Moses cannot therefore enter. He had been permitted to come close to the LORD, and even see his glory from behind (33v22-23). But even he could not endure God’s direct presence (33v20).
            The final picture is an intimate one. When God would have Israel set out, he leads them in the pillar of cloud and fire. And when they make camp he resides at his tent! We should not miss the wonder of this. The book began with Abraham’s descendents enslaved in Egypt and seemingly forgotten by God. It ends with them as a great nation in a covenant relationship with him. Not only have they received his law to set them apart from the nations, but he is actually living with them and personally guiding them to the land he promised. Great is his faithfulness.
Well how much more wonderful that “the word became flesh and made his dwelling (literally “tabernacled”) among us” (John 1v14). More than that, having fully cleansed and made us holy, his body the church, and even our own bodies, are now the dwelling place of God (Eph 2v22, 1 Cor 6v19). We can come closer than Moses ever could. So we are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1v3-14). And we can be sure we will be brought to the new creation, because God travels through life with us, guiding us by his word and Spirit.

Praying it home:
Praise God for dwelling with us and in us by his Holy Spirit. Pray that he would keep us and lead us and those we love to the creation to come.

Thinking further:
[Just to say we are over a month into our plan, and have covered two of the longest and conceptually dense books of the Old Testament. Well done. Tomorrow we begin Leviticus.]

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