Scripture: Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:34-35 ESV
Observation: Having completed all the elements of the tabernacle (also called the tent of meeting) with its worship components, God commands Moses to erect the tabernacle on the first day of the first month. He further instructs Moses regarding anointing the priests (40:12-15) and placing accoutrements associated with the ark of the covenant (in the Holy of Holies) and the rest of the tent of meeting.
Erecting and inaugurating the tabernacle on the first day of the first month served to remind God’s people of new beginnings:
- the creation of their world and heavens as they understood it,
- their exodus from slavery, and
- their new dwelling with Yahweh.
The attention to detail in the making and set-up of the tabernacle also points Israel to God’s creation. As Peter Enns suggests, the details remind them that there is no room for human disorder or chaos to breach his holy dwelling, as at the beginning of creation. Indeed, underscoring this point, Moses oversees the erection of the tabernacle outside Israel’s camp on sacred ground, for the people had broken fellowship with God at Sinai when they worshiped the golden calf. Then, once pitched, the glory of the Lord (not a theophany but his real presence) filled the mishkan (literally “dwelling”), translated tabernacle in our Bible. Thus, our Lord’s very nature of order and harmony filled the temple.
Takeaway: What does this mean for you and me? First, when we draw near God with surrendered hearts, seeking his presence, we will behold his glory. Isaiah comes to mind here. In the year his favored king died (Uzziah), Isaiah, grieving, earnestly sought the Lord and saw his robe (glory) fill the temple (Isaiah 6:1).
Secondly, like Isaiah and Israel, when we discover the joy of our salvation, we start a new journey. Isaiah would begin his prophetic ministry. Israel would press toward the Promised Land as a people set apart for God. And we journey onward and upward as Christ’s ambassadors. Of course, like Isaiah and Israel, we will have setbacks along the way. Yet, as with all God’s children, his mercy and grace will facilitate other new beginnings.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for the gift of your Son, who ensured a new beginning for us as your adopted children. Would you please help us draw near to you and behold your glory as we venture through this new life in Christ, that we would cooperate with your Holy Spirit in embracing new beginnings? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling