Carrying Out God's Instructions: Exodus 35-40

Exodus 35‑40  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Once again the Sabbath is mentioned, for God delights to remind His people of His rest. It was always connected with His covenants with them, and although they could never earn it, it will finally be brought to them through God’s faithfulness, founded upon redemption.
How the enemy would like to have hindered the building of the tabernacle, and if God had not intervened in grace when the people fell to worshiping the golden calf, it would never have been built at all. However “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:2929For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Romans 11:29)). The tabernacle was to be a pattern of things in the heavens, and also of the future blessing of Israel, and although the enemy would opposes anything that speaks of the grace of God, God’s grace triumphed and it was built.
Built God’s Way
And so these chapters 35 to 40 show us how everything was finally built according to the pattern which God had shown Moses. We will not go into any detail here, for we have already spoken of the typical meaning of these items, but undoubtedly these chapters have an important lesson for us. We have the Word of God to guide us just “as the Lord commanded Moses” (ch. 12:28). Now God is writing in His book above as to how we are carrying out the “pattern” which He has given us. As He looks down does He see us seeking to walk for His glory in this wilderness scene? Our lives are like “living epistles” which others can see, too, and how watchful we should be. Sadly we must all confess how we have failed, but there is a day coming when every believer will be just like the “Pattern” — just like Christ. Yes, God’s grace will someday triumph in all the redeemed!
God Dwells With His People
The tabernacle was finished and set up properly and then the glory of God came down upon it. God could dwell in midst of His people, but still there could not be nearness, nor could God be fully revealed, until Christ had accomplished redemption. Now the veil has been torn open so that God can come out in the fullness of His grace, and we can go into His presence “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:66To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)). We can now look up by faith and “see Jesus ... crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:99But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)).
As the children of Israel went on their journey they awaited guidance from above. They did not move until the cloud moved, and when it did move they moved too. If they had remained, it would have been to remain without the Lord’s presence. What a lesson for us. Let us not run from place to place just for our own advantage, but let us be ready to pull up and go when the Lord gives us “marching orders.” We cannot do anything without Him (John 15:55I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)), but we can do and endure all things in His strength (Philippians 4:1313I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)). May we always be found leaning upon Him!
We have gleaned a little from this deeply interesting book of Exodus. It began with the children of Israel as slaves in Egypt, and then told of how God provided a way of shelter from the judgment that fell by the blood of the Passover lamb. Then there was the passage through the Red Sea where Pharaoh’s hosts were overthrown. What patience God displayed with His people through the wilderness journey which followed, and even when they had asked for, and broken, His holy law, in grace He found a way whereby He could bless them — all in view of Christ’s perfect work on Calvary, the ground of all blessing.
Further Meditation
1. How did the Lord tell His people to move forward?
2. How did the Lord Jesus teach us how to follow instructions?
3. Obedience and Submission: Healing Principles by J. H. Smith provides an excellent complement to this chapter.