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Exodus 40

Read Exodus 40

In verses 1-33, Moses' name is mentioned 12 times.  He is emphatically the one who completes the tabernacle: "Moses finished the work." (v33)  As far as the shadows of the old covenant go - Moses is the man.

Yet as the chapter concludes (v34-38), it's clear that Moses cannot even enter into this model of heaven and earth, this dwelling place of the Divine Glory.  The Cloud is too much for him.  This is the Cloud of God's Presence which accompanies the Angel (also known as the Glory) of the LORD (13:21f; 14:19f, 24; 16:10; 19:9, 16; 24:15f, 18; 33:9f; 34:5; 40:34ff).

Previously, Moses had entered into the Cloud of the Divine Glory on a few select occasions (19:20; 24:18; 33:9; 34:5) but only under certain conditions and only when invited.

Yet here verse 35 is clear - Moses cannot enter the tabernacle because the Cloud of Glory is tabernacling there.  In fact the next book of the bible (Leviticus) has to be written to set out how humanly impossible it is for man to dwell with the everlasting burning (Isaiah 33:14).  Men of dust cannot enter the Divine Glory.  The Divine Glory must enter men of dust.

He will tabernacle with Israel in flesh (John 1:14) - in their flesh even.  The Heavenly Man will take the humanity of the man of dust and transform it from within.  In this way the whole world would see His Glory.  And when He is torn down and rebuilt, He will be both a perfected Temple, inviting all nations in and an ascended High Priest, going into the Holy of Holies to carry us on His heart.

He ascends to fill the universe (Eph 4:11).  Now that He's on high, His word flows out, filling the earth with His glory, the nations streaming to the true Temple (Isaiah 2:1-5; Ezekiel 47).

In Exodus, only the High Priest's breastplate was 'Holy to the LORD.' (39:30)  But as the knowledge of the glory of the LORD fills the earth (Hab 2:14), there will be a time when even the most common articles will be 'Holy to the LORD' (Zech 14:20f).  This is the cosmic filling to which this cloud points.

In the meantime, the Israelites (Moses included) can only follow the tabernacling Glory (v36-38).  And only in the shadows of the Levitical law can they enter in vicariously through their high priest.  The law comes through Moses.  He sets up the shadows, he cannot establish the reality.  Grace and truth - hesed we'emet (34:6), the very Name and nature of the living God - comes through the LORD Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

And so at the end of Exodus we see the designs the LORD has on the whole of creation.  He will fill it in the end.  What a contrast to the book's beginning.

In the beginning we saw an enslaved and oppressed people, helpless and hopeless.  By the end we see these same helpless people laid hold of by a magnificent salvation.  They are freed, enriched, guided, cared for, brought to the Father and established as a kingdom and priests.  All this is through the grace and power of Christ alone and in spite of their own profound wickedness and sin.

So from the slavery and genocide of Egypt the LORD Jesus has created a people headed for the land of milk and honey, carrying with them the blueprint of the Father's own cosmic plans for redemption.  Jude was right in his summary of Exodus:

Jesus saved a people out of Egypt  (Jude 5)


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