AN EXPOSITION OF EXODUS 39
42 According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work.
The phrase, “according to all that the LORD commanded”, provides an opportunity to say something about the Mosaic Law in general. Simply stated, every facet of the Law was given to Moses by God. There is nothing in the Moral, Civil, or Ceremonial portions of the Law that was subjectively introduced by Moses.
It was not because Moses was a moral man that he wrote the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20, and restated in Deuteronomy 5. After all, Moses himself had violated the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”
It was not because Moses was a clever man that he envisioned the construction of the Tabernacle in minute detail, and then instituted the various feasts. The Tabernacle was built based on a divine fiat. “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8)
It was not because Moses was a controlling personality that Jewish society was arranged the way it was. Every facet of the Law, all 613 codexs, originated in the mind of God. This included God’s provision for stoning, for military service, for restitution, for marriage, and for divorce. It was all by divine design.
While Moses was the human instrument to transcribe the known will of God, ultimately, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16)
When Paul spoke to Timothy about “all Scripture” being given by inspiration of God, he had in mind the thirty nine canonical books of the Old Testament. The New Testament was still a work in progress.
The Doctrine of the Inspiration of the Bible means that the Bible, in the original documents, is God-breathed. It is a divine product. The Bible is not something of human origin.
This is significant, because it means the Bible is not a collection of man’s good ideas. It is the Word of God. The Bible comes from the lips of God, which is what being “God-breathed” means. Men were moved by the Holy Spirit to write what they did. (2 Peter 1:21)
When they wrote, their free will was not violated.
The writers of Holy Scripture were not mechanical robots simply taking dictation. They were dynamic personalities to whom God conveyed His thoughts, and over whom the Holy Spirit supervised the precise words they used, so that the end product was a book that was inerrant, and infallible in every part.
The Protestant Reformers affirmed the idea of the inerrant, verbal, and plenary inspiration of Scripture, because of its precise wording.
In Matthew 22, Jesus Himself appealed to the tense of a verb in order to settle a theological question about the resurrection. Jesus said, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matt. 22:32)
In Galatians 3, Paul appeals to the singular ending of a word to make a point about the promise of God. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Gal. 3:16).
So it is not just the thoughts of Scripture which were, and are, inspired by God, but the words as well.
This is important because “all that the LORD commanded Moses” he wrote down so that the Law was binding on Israel. The Law was binding, not because it was filled with commandments given by Moses, but because it was filled with instruction, given by God to Moses.
It is true that the Bible says, “the law was given by Moses.”
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
As the servant of God, Moses was the human instrument to introduce the divine legislation that would regulate Jewish life. However, while the Law was given by Moses, it did not originate with Moses. The Law was God-breathed. Moses simply wrote down “all that the LORD commanded.”
Again, the Bible says the Law was given by angels. Several verses teach this truth.
Acts 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
The details of how it happened are not revealed, but the biblical testimony is that the Law of God, in its final form, was presented to Moses by angels.
Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century, and an expert in Jewish beliefs at the time, said: “We have learned the noblest of our doctrines and the holiest of our laws from the ANGELS sent by God.” (Antiquities of the Jews, XV: 136, or XV, 5:3)
While there is a great mystery in all of this, there should be no concern for the Law of Moses is the Law of the Lord, or, God’s Law. They are one and the same. Notice the language of Luke 2:22-24.
“And when the days of her purification according to the Law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord 😉
24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the Law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
So, be assured, when you read in the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments, you are reading the Moral Law of God. When you read about the Tabernacle and its construction, you are reading the Ceremonial Law of God. When you read what the Law had to say about marriage, divorce, war, family, or restitution, you are reading the Social Law of God.
43 And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.
Having received Divine instruction about the building of the Tabernacle, “the children of Israel made all the work.” They were obedient. The people trusted in God, and obeyed Him. Trust and obey, for there is no other way.
Sometime in 1887, Dwight L. Moody held an evangelistic crusade in Brockton, Massachusetts.
A young man stood to testify about what God had done in his life. He knew very little Christian doctrine, but his heart was sincere. He ended his testimony by saying, “I’m not quite sure—but I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey.”
Daniel B. Towner, who was in the meeting, jotted down the words, and gave them to John H. Sammis, who developed the following lyrics from them.
“When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Once more, attention is drawn to the fact that every word of Scripture is God-breathed, so that the precepts, and commands are of divine origin. They are not based on the concept of a social contract, or an arbitrary lawgiver.
2 On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
Once the Tabernacle was completed, it was to be set up in a specific way, beginning on the first day of the first month, which is a reference to Nisan (March/April). The first of the month suggests a fresh start and the beginning of something new. “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23)
3 And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the veil.
First, inside the Tabernacle was to be placed the Ark of the Covenant behind an inner curtain in the Holy of Holies. And inside the Ark itself, the tables of the testimony, or the covenant, were to be stored.
“And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” (Ex. 31:18)
The author of Hebrews writes about that, “Which had the golden censer, and the Ark of the Covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.” (Heb. 9:4)
It was a lovely box, or chest, which the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments were placed, along with a golden pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.
The Ark of the Covenant was oblong, and was made of shittim (acacia) wood. It was overlaid with gold.
The mercy seat was placed on the upper lid, and on top of the mercy seat were two cherubims of gold, whose wings stretched out to touch, and overshadow the mercy seat.
One day a year, the Day of Atonement, the high priest would appear before the Ark, to make atonement for the sins of the people, in the place of the presence of God.
4 And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof.
Once the Ark of the Covenant was in place, then the priests were to bring in the table of showbread, and then the golden candlestick. This divine arrangement suggests several spiritual truths.
First, while meeting with the LORD is the central theme of the Tabernacle, fellowship with God is based upon redemption, illustrated by the Ark of the Covenant, which is the central piece of furnishing in the Tabernacle, and the first item to be set in place.
Once the Ark of the Covenant was in place, then the table of showbread was to be set, indicating fellowship restored, and then the candlestick, reminding the worshipping believer to walk in the light, meaning to walk in truth.
Second, the divine arrangement of the articles in the Tabernacle suggests that worship is not to be haphazard, but according to Divine design. It would be a worthwhile study for a local Church to study how the LORD would have His Church be organized.
More often than not, a local Church will imitate what other churches are doing, follow a denominational handbook, or just wing it. Whatever anybody suggests will be done. Pressure is put upon the leadership to come up with activities. Then more pressure is put upon the people to support what is being proposed.
Some Churches arrange the life of the Church around a liturgical calendar. Holy days, seasons, and saints are honored with Scripture reading, stories, and sermons. Liturgical rituals are important.
Some congregations follow a secular calendar. The special days of the world are incorporated into the preaching, teaching, and events of the assembly. Special attention is paid to holidays.
Some congregations seek out contemporary programs, activities, books, and topics to speak on, that are popular in the cultural. They look for sensitive seekers and appeal to self-help issues. Entertainment becomes very important.
Some congregation build their body life around a particular theme of missions, music, Bible doctrine, a Christian school, evangelism, or some outreach program.
Some congregations hold to a simple, body life structure based on Acts 2:42. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” The life of the church is structured around doctrine, fellowship, communion, and prayer.
There is great flexibility in the way the local Church is structured, but every congregation would be wise to have this foundation principle to guide it: “worship is not to be haphazard, but according to Divine design.” Help in determining exactly what that Divine design is can be found in the Bible.
34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
Once the Tabernacle was constructed, and set up, as the LORD had said, the Bible tells us that, “the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle.”
The Hebrew word glory, kabowd, literally, refers to something that is weighty.
The word is used in a figurative sense to speak of praise, honour, and splendor.
It means to boast, to exult. Glory is the condition of highest achievement.
This glory of the LORD is used in three senses in the Bible, with reference to God.
First, the glory of the LORD is used of God’s moral beauty and perfection of character, which is not fully understood by men, because we have fallen short of it. “The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 113:4) “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)
Second, the glory of the LORD is used of the praise which men give to God. “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” (Psalms 115:1)
Third, the glory of the LORD is used of the visible manifestation of God’s presence in the form of wind, fire, cloud, or an angel.
During the wilderness journey, the manifestation of the LORD’S special presence of glory resulted in specific behavior.
For example, when the glory of the LORD was present, Moses was not able to enter into the tent, the outer court, or the Tabernacle of the congregation, and the congregation was not allowed to move from one place to another. Only after the cloud of the glory of the LORD had left were the people free to move again.
35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
36 And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:
37 But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.
38 For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all.
Theologians refer to this glory of the LORD as the Shekinah glory. The word shekinah means, dwelling, and again, is a visible manifestation of the presence of God.
“Although the word is not found in the Bible, it occurs frequently in later Jewish writings. It refers to the instances when God showed Himself visibly, as, for example, on Mount Sinai (Ex 24:9-18), and in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle, and in Solomon’s Temple.
The Shekinah was a luminous cloud, which rested above the altar in the place of worship, and lit up the room.
When the Babylonians destroyed the Temple, the Shekinah glory vanished. There was no Shekinah in the temples rebuilt later under Zerubbabel and Herod. (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
Since the close of the Old Testament era, the glory of God has been revealed primarily in the person of Jesus Christ. The glory of Christ was revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration.
“And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. 30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.” (Luke 9:29-32)
In matchless grace, the Lord shares His glory with His own. During His High Priestly prayer, Jesus spoke to the Father of “the glory which thou gavest me”, saying, “I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:” (John 17:22) If you would see the glory of the LORD today, it is to be found in the Church. Look there, and be blessed.