Friday, July 07, 2023

2023.07.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 40:34–38

Read Exodus 40:34–38

Questions from the Scripture text: When the tabernacle was set up, what covered it (Exodus 40:34)? And what filled it? Who couldn’t do what (Exodus 40:35)? Why? What would happen sometimes (Exodus 40:36)? What would the children of Israel do at that point? And what would they do if the cloud wasn’t taken up (Exodus 40:37)? What happened, day and night (Exodus 40:38)? In whose sight? For how long? 

What does the Lord do when the tabernacle is finally set up? Exodus 40:34–38 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that without compromising His glory, the Lord dwells with His people, leads His people, and protects His people.

The Lord dwells with His people, Exodus 40:34-35. This passage reminds us of Israel’s initial experience of the Lord at Sinai. The cloud covers the tabernacle with glory, as it had covered the top of the mountain before (cf. Exodus 24:15–16). And when God’s glory comes in great effulgence, Moses is unable to enter or endure it (cf. Exodus 34:18–23). But the Lord has made a proper way for Him to display His dwelling among His people without compromising His glory.

The Lord leads His peopleExodus 40:36-37. The great question after the incident of the calf was not only whether God would dwell among His people, but especially whether God would go with them (cf. Exodus 33:12–17). Now, we see that it’s not that God would go with them, but rather they will go with God. When He stays, they stay. When He goes, they go. They have not just His presence but His leadership, His guidance. His wisdom, and His plan, leading them is literally visible.

The Lord protects His peopleExodus 40:38. The cloud protects by day, and the fire by night. The Lord’s dwelling with His people and leading them is continual, day and night. Numbers 9:15–23 expands upon this passage, and Isaiah 4:5–6 looks forward to its ultimate fulfillment in Christ. There, the cloud by day and fire by night identify the tabernacle as a shade and a refuge. 

Because Israel end up in the land, which was promised to their fathers, we often think of Exodus as the story of Israel coming out of Egypt to go to Canaan. But from its beginning, Exodus has been a story of Israel coming out of Egypt to come to Yahweh. The nation is about to depart upon its journey, but as Exodus ends they have reached their true destination. 

Even so, believers have a glorious new heavens and new earth promised to us, but we have already come to know the Lord Jesus as God tabernacling with us, and His Spirit with us and in us as Spirit and fire from the Lord. He is already our primary destination, and wherever further we go, He will lead us.

And He has given us the pouring of water to communicate to us the pouring of His Spirit, and the sharing (fellowship/communion) of His life at the table to communicate to us our union with Him. He intends for us to live in constant awareness of His presence, guidance, and protection. 

How/when/where does the Lord most communicate to you His presence with you? His leading/taking you to Your reward? His protecting you from all harm and overruling all things for your good?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for becoming flesh and tabernacling among us in the Person of the Word. Grant unto us to behold Him not with fleshly mind but by faith, so that we may behold His glory as the only-begotten of the Father, full of covenant love and faithfulness. Make us to know You as the One Who is continually with us, Who takes us by the hand, Who guides us by Your counsel, and Who afterward will receive us unto glory. Make us to know You in Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord, with Thee”

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