Bible Readings for March 29th

Exodus 40 | John 19 | Proverbs 16 | Philippians 3

Now that all the tabernacle’s construction is finished, the final steps are to anoint the priests to prepare them to minister before Yahweh, to set up the tabernacle, and to consecrate the tabernacle to make it a holy place for Yahweh’s glory to dwell. In Exodus 40:1–33, we read about every careful task that Moses completes to ensure that this vitally important work is done correctly.

And when Moses finishes the work, we read that the cloud of the glory of Yahweh fills the tabernacle to such a degree that even Moses himself is not able to enter the tent of meeting. Keep in mind that Moses had no problem approaching Yahweh’s glory in the former tent of meeting (Ex. 33:7–11), so we are seeing a major step forward: Yahweh’s glory has come to dwell in the midst of Israel in a way that human beings have not known since the day that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

This has been the purpose behind everything we have read up to this point. Yahweh’s presence is no longer confined to a pillar of cloud or fire that goes before them, but his presence in the cloud has now filled up the tabernacle itself. Israel will actually pitch their tents to surround the tabernacle with three tribes camping on each side in whatever place Yahweh directs Israel to go on their way to the Promised Land of Canaan.

This is a glorious arrangement, but as we have talked about so often, this arrangement isn’t perfect. The people of Israel will continue to sin, rebelling against the God who dwells in their midst. The problem that will undercut this entire system is that, even though the tabernacle, the Levitical priesthood, and the sacrificial system will each make purification for the people of God to some degree, these cannot ultimately perpetually cleanse us from sin and change hard hearts.

This is why Jesus had to come. Since the blood of bulls and goats could not make permanent peace with Yahweh, Yahweh sent his only, beloved Son to shed his own blood on the cross for our purification. Then, he sent his Holy Spirit to the church to apply everything that Jesus had accomplished for us, giving us freedom to behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled face and being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).

But even this arrangement is preparation for the eternal weight of glory, when there will be no further need for any tabernacle or temple in the New Jerusalem that God has prepared for his people, for in that place, “its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev. 21:22).

And in that place, the story of the Bible will reach its climax: God will again dwell perfectly in the midst of his people.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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