Exodus 40





All was now ready. Bezaleel and Aholiab had completed their task. The work for the tabernacle

had been given in, and had been approved Moses did not however at once set it up. He waited

for a command from God. After a short interval, the command came. He was ordered to select

the first day of the ensuing year — the first day of the first year of freedom — for the operation.

Directions were given him, which fixed the order in which the various parts were to be set up,

and assigned to the various articles of furniture their proper places (vs. 1-8).  When he had

arranged the whole as directed, he was to anoint the various parts (vs. 9-11). He was then

to wash and dress Aaron, and his sons; to invest them with their robes of office (vs. 12-14),

and to anoint them to be priests (v.15). The orders given were executed, except (as it would

seem) those concerning the investiture of the priests and the anointing, which were deferred.

(See Leviticus 8:6-30.)  In one day the sanctuary was completely set up (vs.18-33).



                        The Directions to Set Up the Tabernacle (vs. 1-8)


1 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  2 On the first day of the first

month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.”

On the first day of the first month. The first of Abib, or Nisan, the “New Year’s Day”

of Israel, coinciding nearly with the opening of the vernal equinox, a very suitable

day for the inauguration of a place of worship. The tabernacle was to be set up

first of all; then the tent was to be placed over it. See vs.18-19.


 3 “And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the

ark with the vail.”  And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony

The first thing to be placed within the tabernacle wasthe ark of the testimony”,

as containing the foundation of the covenant between God and Israel, and being

the special token of God’s presence with His people.  See the comment on

ch. 25:10. The “two tables” were placed within the ark before it was brought

into the tabernacle (vs. 20-21) -  and cover the ark with the veil.  i.e., “hang up

the veil in front of the ark, so as to cover or conceal it.”


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.”   Thou shalt bring in the tablei.e., “the table of shewbread”

(see ch. 25:23-30; 37:10-16). And set in order the things, etc. It has been observed

with reason that the directions of Leviticus 24:5-7 must have been already given,

though not recorded till so much later. Bread and frankincense were to be “set in

order” on the table in a particular way. The candlestick. The seven branched

candelabrum (ch. 25:31-39; 37:17-24). And thou shalt light the lamps.

The lamps would have to be lighted on the first day at even (ch.   27:21; 30:8).


5 “And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the

testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle.”   The altar of gold.

See ch. 30:1-10; ch. 37:25-28. Before the ark of the testimony i.e., “before the veil,

opposite the ark of the testimony,” not within the veil. See the comment on ch. 30:6.

The hanging of the door i.e., “the curtain which closed the front or eastern end

of the tabernacle.” (See ch. 26:36; 36:37.)


6 “And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the

tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.”  The altar of burnt-offering.

See ch. 27:1-8; ch. 38:1-7. Before the door of the tabernacle. In the court,

directly in front of the entrance, but not close to it, since the place of the

laver was between the entrance and the altar. See the next verse.


7 “And  thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the

altar, and  shalt put water therein.”   The laver. See ch. 30:18; ch. 38:8. This

verse tells us that it was made from “the looking glasses of the women

assembling......at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Put water therein.

The water was required:


  • For the ablution of the priests (ch. 30:19-21; here vs.12, 31; Leviticus 8:6), and
  • For washing the victims (ibid. v. 21).


8 “And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging

at the court gate.”  The court. See ch. 27:9-18; ch. 38:9-20. The hanging at

the court gate i.e., the curtain at the entrance of the court (ch. 27:16; ch. 38:18).




The Directions to Anoint the Tabernacle, the Vessels therein; the Altar of the

    Burnt Offering, the Laver and its Foot, Aaron and His Sons (vs. 9-16)


It does not appear that these directions were carried out at this time. Probably, there

would not have been time to go through all the ceremonies enjoined (ch. 29:1-34) on

the same day with the erection of the sanctuary. They were consequently deferred,

either till the next day, or possibly to a later date. (See Leviticus 8.) The anointing of

the tabernacle is recorded in (ibid. v.10); of the vessels in v. 11; of the altar and

laver in the same. The washing of Aaron and his sons in v. 6; their investiture in

vs. 7-9; the anointing of Aaron in v. 12; and a further anointing of Aaron together

with his sons in v. 30.


9 “And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle,

and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it

shall be holy.  10  And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and

all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy.” Not really

more holy than the rest of the tabernacle and its contents, which are all pronounced

“most holy” in ch. 30:29; but requiring more to have its holiness continually borne

in mind, since “it was more exposed to contact with the people” than the tabernacle

and its vessels.  



The Altar Most Holy (v. 10)


There is a difference at once perceptible between the words of sanctifying

in v. 9, and the words of sanctifying in v. 10. Whereas the tabernacle

and all therein are declared as holy, a special sanctity is somehow attached

to the altar of burnt offering. “It shall be an altar most holy.” The

reasonable explanation of this is, not that there was any special sanctity in

the altar of burnt offering itself, but that from its exterior position it was in

great danger of being treated thoughtlessly, and therefore needed special

attention to be called to it. Hence we are led to note the existence of a

similar distinction among such things as we are bound to treat in a reverent

and careful manner. Certain persons, things, and places are of such a kind

as to be their own protection. Perhaps it is still true to some extent, though

doubtless it was much more felt in former times, that there is a divinity

which doth hedge a king. Men of coarse and scandalous tongues manage

to put a check on them selves in the presence of women and children.

Some are still alive who remember the horror and indignation excited by

the resurrection-men of fifty or sixty years ago, and how little watchhouses

were built in some churchyards, and men took it in turns to guard

by night the resting-places of their beloved dead. But those who would

shrink with loathing from the bare possibility that they could be guilty of

such desecration are nevertheless found treating great realities of holiness

with indifference, if not with contempt. Remember with what profaning

hands the Holy One of God was abused; He who spake concerning the

temple of His body; He who was holy, not by any mere association, not for

the purposes of some temporary economy, but essentially holy. Are there

not those who, thoughtless enough of all the evil they are doing, crucify the

Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame? (Hebrews 6:6.)

What a fearful outlook is indicated for those who tread underfoot the Son

of God, and count the blood of the covenant, wherewith they are

sanctified, an unholy thing, and do despite unto the spirit of grace!

(Hebrews 10:29.) The very same thing may in one way be hallowed,

and in another be desecrated. There is a great semblance of hallowing in

the huge family Bibles so often seen in English houses, rich, and not

unfrequently tawdry, in their binding and gilding; but after all they may

only be there as part of a reputation for respectability. The true hallowing

is in the dog’s-eared, well-worn book, poorly printed it may be, and on

common paper, and with that indefinable appearance about it which tells of

constant use. It is only too easy a thing to put superstition in the place of

an intelligent, diligent, profound, and practical reverence. Even Christians

are strangely negligent concerning the holiness inherent in them if they are

really born again. Very unobservant are they of the persistent references in

the New Testament to the holiness of a Christian’s personality. How much

is done, as a matter of course, that is inconsistent, yea, scarcely compatible

with being, indeed, a living sacrifice!  (Romans 12:1)


11 “And thou shalt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it.  12 And thou

shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the

congregation, and wash them with water.”  Unto the door of the tabernacle

i.e., to the place where the laver was situated (v. 7).


13 “And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and

sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. 14 And thou

shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats:”  Coats. Rather, “tunics.” They

were to be “of fine linen, woven work” (ch.39:27).



 15 “And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that

they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing

shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.” 

And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father” - The mode of

anointing does not seem to have been identical in the two cases. The oil was first

poured upon Aaron’s head (Leviticus 8:12; Psalm 133:2), and afterwards sprinkled

upon him (Leviticus 8:30).  It was, apparently, only sprinkled upon the priests (ibid.).

This was a lower form of anointing; and hence the high priest was sometimes called

the anointed priest” (Leviticus 4:5,16; 6:22; 16:32)  Their anointing shall surely be

an everlasting priesthood - as the anointing continued, the priesthood should continue.


16 Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him,

so did he.”





17 “And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first

day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.”  On the first day the

tabernacle was reared up. Being constructed after the fashion of a tent, it was

quite possible to rear up and also to take down, the tabernacle in less than a day.


18  “And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up

the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars.”

Fastened his sockets. Rather, “placed its sockets.” The “sockets” or “bases” appear

to have been simply laid on the flat sand of the desert, not “fastened” to it in any

way. They were heavy masses of metal and would remain where they were placed.

His pillars. The pillars that supported the “veil,” and also those at the east end,

where the entrance was.


19 “And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering

of the tent above upon it; as the LORD commanded Moses.”  He spread

abroad the tent over the tabernacle. The entire distinctness of the tent (‘ohel)

from the tabernacle (mishkan) is here very strongly marked. The “tent” was

the goats’ hair covering, with the framework of wood that supported it.

The covering. The outer covering of rams’ skins and seals’ skins. (See ch. 26:14.)


20 “And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on

the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:”  The testimony i.e.,

the two tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments (ch. 25:16; 31:18).

Set the staves on the ark. “Put the staves,” that is, “into the rings, and left them

there” (ch. 25:14). Put the mercy seat above upon the ark. See ibid. v. 21.


21 “And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the veil of the

covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded

Moses.”  Set up the veil of the coveringi.e., hung the veil on the

four pillars between the holy place and the holy of holies, and thus covered

i.e., concealed from sight, the ark of the testimony. (See the comment

on v. 3)


22 “And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the

tabernacle northward, without the veil.”  Upon the side of the tabernacle

northward. Upon the right hand, as one faced the veil. No direction had been

given upon this point, but Moses probably knew the right position from the

pattern which he had seen upon the mount.


23 “And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD

had commanded Moses.”  He set the bread in order upon it. Upon the subject

of this “order,” see Leviticus 24:6-8, and compare the comment on v. 4.


24 “And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against

the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward.”  Over against the table

i.e., exactly opposite to the table, on the left as one faced the veil.


25 And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded

Moses.”  When evening came, he lighted the lamps. (See the comment on v. 4)

Whatever the priests ordinarily had to do was on this occasion done by Moses.


26 And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the veil:  

27 And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the LORD commanded Moses.”

The golden altar, or “altar of incense,” was placed before the veil i.e., outside it,

in the holy place, midway between the table of shewbread and the golden candlestick.


28 “And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle.” 

He set up the hanging at the door. He hung on the five pillars at the entrance

to the tabernacle the “hanging” or curtain, which had been made for the purpose

(ch. 36:37).


 29And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of

the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the

meat offering; as the LORD commanded Moses.”  He put the altar of burnt

offering by the door of the tabernacle. See the comment on v. 6. And offered

upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering i.e., in his priestly character

inaugurated the altar by offering upon it the first evening sacrifice. (See ch.29:38-41.)


30 “And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar,

and put water there, to wash withal.”  He set the laver. As directed in v. 7.

For the position of the laver, see ch. 30:18.


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          (Left to right – altar – laver – tabernacle – source Wikipedia)


31 “And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet

thereat:  32 When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when

they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses.”

Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands.  This is not a part of the

narrative of what was done at this time, but a parenthetic statement of the purpose

to which the laver was subsequently applied. On the importance attached to these

ablutions, see ch. 30:20-21.



33 “And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar,

and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.”

He reared up the court, etc., as directed in v. 8. So Moses finished the work.

With the hanging of the curtain at the entrance to the court, the erection of the

tabernacle was complete. It was probably not till after this that Moses performed

the acts of worship mentioned in the course of the narrative:


  • put water in the laver (v. 30),
  • offered sacrifice (v. 29),
  • lighted the lamps (v. 25), and
  • burnt incense on the golden altar (v. 26).




                                    The Erection of the Tabernacle (vs. 1-33)


At last the work of preparation was over. The work for which God had begun to give

instructions more than nine months previously (ch. 25:1) was completed. All the parts

of the structure, pillars, curtains, boards, sockets, bars, taches, hooks, pins; and all the

furniture, ark, altars, table, candlestick, laver, vessels, censers, tongs, ash-pans — were

finished and ready. All had been inspected by Moses, and approved (ch. 39:43); they

answered to the pattern which had been shown him in the mount (ch. 25:40). Still,

however, Moses waited until he received from God:


Ø      The order for erection.

Ø      Instructions as to details.


·         THE ORDER FOR ERECTION. “On the first day of the first month

            shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation” (v. 2).

            The order included:


Ø      The act. “Set up the tabernacle.”

Ø      The agent. “Thou” i.e., Moses.

Ø      The time. “The first day of the first month.”


            Concerning the act there is nothing to be said. It was implied in the first

            order given, and lay at the root of every subsequent direction. The tabernacle        

            could only have been devised in order to be set up. But concerning the agent

            and the time there was room for doubt. As to the agent: Bezaleel, the master         

            craftsman, might have been chosen to erect what he had constructed; or

            Aaron might have been deputed to arrange the temple of which he was to be

            chief minister; or Moses and Aaron and Bezaleel might have been constituted

            a commission to carry out the work conjointly. But it pleased God to appoint        

            Moses alone. For every enterprise it is best to have one directing mind, one

            ultimate authority. Otherwise there will be conflicting views, waste of time

            and energy, and commonly an inharmonious result. And Moses, who had

            alone seen “the pattern on the mount,” was beyond all doubt the fittest

            director that could have been selected. As to the time: any day that was not

            a Sabbath would have been fairly suitable; but there seems an especial

            appropriateness in the selection of the first day of a new year. “To

            everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the

            heaven” - (Ecclesiastes 4:1). A new year should begin with a good work.

            What better work for such a day than the opening of a Bethel — a house of

            God — a “tent of meeting,” where God Himself was to be met?  God, who

            is the first, should have the first. First fruits of all things should be given to

            Him. Thus, New Year’s day is a natural holy day. It opens the year. It is

            thus the most appropriate for openings.


  • INSTRUCTIONS AS TO DETAILS. A certain order had to be

            observed. God determined the order. First, the tabernacle itself was to be

            erected (v. 2); then the ark was to be brought in and placed in the holy of

            holies (v. 3); then the veil was to be hung up (ibid.). After this the furniture

            of the holy place was to be brought in — the table of shewbread (v. 4),

            the candlestick (ibid.), and the altar of incense (v. 5). Next, the hanging at

            the entrance to the tabernacle was to be put up (ibid.)  Lastly, the outer court

            and its furniture were to be taken in hand. The laver and altar of burnt

            offering were to be set in their places (vs. 6, 7); the pillars and hangings

            which enclosed the court were to be arranged, and the curtain hung at the

            entrance to it (v. 8). The general law which pervades the whole is the

            precedence of the more important over the less important. We do not

            know what time intervened between the delivery of these instructions to

            Moses and “the first day of the second year”; but probably the interval was

            not long. Moses would employ it in selecting a site, and in preparing the

            artificers and others for the day’s proceedings. When the appointed day

            arrived, he applied himself to the work (v. 17). First, he stretched, by

            means of cords and tent-pins, probably on a light wooden framework, the

            tabernacle cloth of blue and purple and scarlet and fine twined linen

            (Exodus 26:1-6). Then he laid down the “sockets” of silver in their

            places, fitted the boards into them by means of their “tenons,” put in the

            bars which kept the boards together, and reared up the pillars for the veil

            (v. 18). After this he stretched the goats’-hair covering, which

            constituted the tent, outside and above the tabernacle cloth, and placed

            over the goats’-hair covering the rams’ skins and the seals’ skins (v. 19).

            So much constituted the erection of the tabernacle proper. Next he

            proceeded to the furniture; he brought in the ark and mercy seat, and,

            having placed them in the holy of holies (v. 21), set up the vail; thus

            completing it, and isolating it from the holy place. After this, he brought in

            the furniture of the holy place — the table, the candlestick, and the golden

            altar — and arranged it (vs. 22-26). He then, and not till then, according

            to the direction given to him (v. 5), put up the hanging which separated

            the tabernacle from the court (v. 28). Finally, he proceeded to set in

            order the court. He put the altar of burnt offering and the laver into their

            places (vs. 29-30), carried the hangings alongside the court’s four sides,

            and arranged the curtain at the entrance (v. 33). So, with a minute

            observance of the directions given, “Moses finished the work.” Note the

            exactitude with which Moses followed all the directions given him,

            together with the liberty which he claimed and exercised:


ü      To determine the time of their execution.

ü      To fill up particulars with respect to which no directions had

                        been given.


v     Of the first, the deferring of the consecration by anointment of

      the tabernacle and its furniture, and of the consecration of

      Aaron and his sons (vs. 9-15), is the crucial instance. It has been     

      said that these may have taken place on the same day as the            

      erection of the tabernacle; but the mode in which the narrative

      of the consecration is introduced in Leviticus 8:1-5, no less than     

      the separation of the narrative from that of the present chapter,       

      implies an interval between the two events. Probably, by the

      time of the completion of the court, the day was far advanced,

      and it would have been impossible to perform all the ceremonies    

      commanded (ch. 29:1-36) in the remaining space.


v     Of the second, the emplacement of the table and the candlestick

      (vs. 22, 24), the burning of incense (v. 27), and the offering

upon the altar of burnt offering (v. 29) are specimens.



The Erection of the Tabernacle (vs. 1-33)




Ø      It reminded them of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage; “this

month shall be unto you the beginning of months” (ch. 12:2). God’s

dwelling-place is ever erected amid the adoring remembrance of His

redemption. “The love of Christ constraineth us.” (II Corinthians 5:14)


Ø      It was a consecration of the year upon which they were entering. It

struck the key-note of the after time. The joy of the new year was to rise

into the greater joy of the new life. The joy which hallows all time is:


o        that of reconciliation to,

o        and union with, GOD!




Ø      The tabernacle was first erected in which God was to be served. The

duty to serve God is confessed before the power is attained or the way



o        The emblem of the law in its strength and weakness.

o        The story of all the saved.


Ø      The tabernacle is next furnished, and the altar and laver and outer court

set up. The means are given of reconciliation and service. It is not enough

to be convinced of duty. God must be waited upon for power. His way must

be taken. “..... other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid,

which is JESUS CHRIST!”  (I Corinthians 3:11)


Ø      All things are anointed with the holy oil. The spirit hallows and energizes

all the means of grace which God has given.


Ø      The priests also are anointed; we, too, must be so in order to serve, and

we shall be if we come, as they did, into the midst of what God has

provided and sanctified for man’s redemption.



ITS IMMEDIATE USE. So soon as the shewbread table was placed, the

bread was set in order upon it. The lamps were immediately lighted. He

burnt sweet incense upon the altar before the veil. On the altar of sacrifice

he offered burnt offering and meat offering. At the laver “Moses and Aaron

and his sons washed their feet.” Belief should follow fast upon the heels of

knowledge. God has sent forth His salvation, not to be the subject of

intellectual interest and theological speculation, but to touch and change

the heart. The bread of life has been given to feed the perishing, not merely

to be examined, weighed, or analyzed.




The Tabernacle Set Up (vs. 1-33)


The sanctuary did not take long in making. When hearts are willing, gifts

liberal, and hands active, work is soon accomplished. Everything was ready

by the first day of the new year after leaving Egypt. The new year was

inaugurated by the setting up of the finished dwelling. How suitable an

employment for the new year, to consecrate our hearts anew as dwelling

places for Jehovah! The section conveys lessons as to:


  • ORDER IN THE SANCTUARY. Every thing was done with order and

deliberation. “Set the bread in order” (vs. 4, 23). “Let all things be done

decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40).


  • BEAUTY IN THE SANCTUARY. God’s house, when completed,

was a beautiful house. Compare Isaiah 60:13).


  • HOLINESS IN THE SANCTUARY. The place was holy. Moses

consecrated it by anointing (vs. 9-12). Those who served in it were to be

holy. This is signified by the wearing of “holy garments” (v. 13), and by

washing in the laver (v. 31). Holiness becomes God’s house (Psalm 93:5).

His servants are to serve Him in “beauties of holiness” (Psalm 110:3).


  • WORSHIP IN THE SANCTUARY. Moses set the bread in order on

the table, lighted the lamps, burnt incense, etc. He offered burnt offerings

and meat offerings on the altar (v. 39). The tabernacle was a picture Gospel.




                            The Sanctification of Material Things (vs. 18-33)


Objections are raised to the entire idea of a holiness in things. Holiness, it is said, being

a personal quality, cannot reside in things, or be communicated to them, or be rightly

predicated of them. God is holy; angels are holy; some men are holy; but nothing else.

To imagine a holiness in things is superstition. This is to effect a complete severance

of matter from spirit — to dig an abyss between them — to regard them as asymptotes,

which cannot ever touch one the other. But if God became incarnate, if “the Word was

made flesh” (John 1:14), then that matter which constituted the body of Christ, most

certainly became holy. And if that matter, why not other matter? Why not the food

which He “blessed and brake, and gave to His disciples”? Why not the drink which

He called “His blood”? If there is a contact between matter and spirit, and some

spirits are holy, then it is readily intelligible that the matter which comes into contact

with them may be, in a certain sense, holy also. And this is, beyond all doubt, the

language of the Scriptures. We hear of “holy ground” (ch. 3:5), “holy places”

(ch. 26:33), “holy garments” (ch. 28:2), “holy oil” (ch. 30:31), “a holy perfume”

(ibid. v. 35).  Things material may become holy in various ways:


  • BY BEING TAKEN INTO GOD. Christ took our nature upon Him,

            joined for ever the Manhood to the Eternal Godhead, and so gave to His

            own body an eternal sanctification of the highest possible kind, which

            renders it most holy.




            Christ, the crown of thorns, the nails, the soldier’s spear, the raiment, the

            vesture, the napkin which was about His head when in the grave, became

            hallowed by association with Him, and must ever be regarded by all

            Christians as holy. If the garment shown at Turin (Shroud of) were indeed

            what it professes to be a garment once worn by Christ — it would well

            deserve the name, by which it is commonly called, of the “holy shroud.”

            As it is, we have no indisputable evidence of any existing piece of matter,

            that it ever came into contact with our Lord’s blessed body; but, if we had,

            any such piece of matter would be “holy.”



            especially that buildings, garments, vessels, cloths, and the like, are “holy.”

            They are intended for and serve a holy purpose — are employed in the

            worship or service of Almighty God. It is felt on all hands that such things

            ought to be set apart from secular uses, reserved for the sacred end to

            which they have been designated, and applied to that only. Now, in cases

            of this kind, it does not appear to be inappropriate that the designation

            should be by a material act; and certainly no more significant act than

            anointing with oil is possible. For oil is symbolical of the Holy Spirit; and

            as it is by the Holy Spirit that individuals are sanctified, not only personally

            but officially, so as to be media of grace to others, so it may well be

            conceived that even inanimate things may become channels of grace and

            blessing to men, through an effluence from the same Spirit. The Holy Spirit

            does not disdain all contact with matter. At the beginning of creation he

            “moved,” or rather brooded, “upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2).

            At the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit was seen “descending like a dove,

            and lighting on Him” (Matthew 4:16). At Pentecost He showed Himself

            in the form of “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3). In every consecration it is

            quite possible that He may bear a part, though in general He shrouds

            Himself, and does not let His presence be perceived.



The Two Finishings (v. 33)


“So Moses finished the work.” Compare ch. 39:32 — “Thus was all the

work of the tabernacle finished.” View the tabernacle as a type of the

spiritual house — the Church. This tabernacle is being made. A time is

coming when, in a more special sense, it will be reared, — the “day of

Christ” — the day of “the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans

8:19. Compare Revelation 21:2-3).






Ø      The tabernacle was made with a view to its being reared. This was the

end. So the calling, saving, and perfecting of individuals for the kingdom of

God has always reference to their ultimate manifestation with Christ in

glory (Romans 8:17-26; II Corinthians 4:15-18; 5:1-11; Ephesians 5:25-28;

Philippians 1:6, 10; Colossians 3:1-4, etc.).


Ø      The labors of making were entirely finished, before the rearing was begun.

The rearing was but the bringing into visibility of an already finished work.


o        All the parts of the tabernacle were made.

o        All the furniture of the tabernacle was made.

o        The dress of the servants of the tabernacle was made.


Not till all this was done was the command given to rear. So the day of the

manifestation of believers will not arrive till all labors preparatory to the

setting up of the kingdom of God in glory have been concluded. The

Gospel preached through all the world (Matthew 24:14), the “elect”

(v. 31) gathered in, the last soul saved, believer’s; sanctified, every

“living stone” (I Peter 2:4) shaped and fashioned for the place it is

ultimately to occupy In the heavenly building, etc.


Ø      These labors having been concluded, the rearing was proceeded with

without delay. The rearing included


o        the putting of the parts of the tabernacle together.

o        The arrangement of its furniture.

o        The ordering of its service.


So, when once the preparatory labors in connection with the kingdom of

God have been finished, no time will be lost in setting it up in its final

glory. Christ will appear, and His people will appear with Him

(Colossians 3:4). He and they will be glorified together (Romans 8:17).


Ø      The rearing of the tabernacle was the setting of it in visible glory before

the eyes of the Israelites. So will Christ come to be “glorified in His saints,

and admired in all them that believe” (II Thessalonians 1:10).


Ø      The rearing of the tabernacle completed the preparation of it as a

sanctuary for Jehovah. The same will be true of the glorification of the

Church (Revelation 21:3-4).





o        Christ admits us to be fellow-workers with Himself in the labors of His

Church. These are carried on by human agency (II Corinthians 6:1).


o        He alone has to do with the glorification of His Church.




SANCTUARY. So will the glorification of the Church make manifest the

beauty, symmetry, completeness, and perfection of the spiritual structure.

It will be found to be “a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or

any such thing” (Ephesians 5:27); complete as a place of habitation for

Jehovah; a unity, and a perfect one.




                                                            (vs. 34-38)


The work was finished - the first incense burnt (v.27) — the first sacrifice offered

(v. 29). Those who had watched the proceedings, and those who had been engaged

in them, were probably about to retire to rest. Even Moses had withdrawn, and left the

tabernacle to itself — when suddenly, there was a manifestation of Divine Power.

The cloud, which had gone before the Israelites from Succoth onward (ch.13:20-22),

and which had recently settled upon the extemporized “Tent of Meeting” (ch. 33:9),

left its place, and “covered” the newly-erected structure externally (v. 34), while an

intensely brilliant light — here called “the glory of God” — filled the whole

interior of the tabernacle (ibid). Moses, it appears, would fain have reentered

the tabernacle — “to see the great sight” as in (ch. 3:3); but he could not — the

 “glory” was too dazzling (v. 35). Thus a distinct approval was given to all that

had been done. God accepted His house, and entered it. The people saw that He

had foregone His wrath, and would be content henceforth to dwell among them and

journey with them.  Henceforth, throughout the wanderings, the cloud and tabernacle

were inseparable. If the cloud was lifted a little off it and moved in front, the

tabernacle had to follow (v. 36) — if it settled down on the roof, the people stopped

and remained until it moved again (v. 37). The appearance was as of a cloud by day,

and as of fire by night, so that all could always see where the tabernacle was, and

whether it was stationary or in motion (v. 38). After the first descent, it would seem

that “the glory” withdrew into the Holy of Holies, so that both Moses and the

priests could enter the holy place, and minister there (Leviticus 8:10; 10:13).



34 “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of

the LORD filled the tabernacle.”  Then a cloud. In the original “the cloud,” i.e.

the cloud so often spoken of (ch. 13:21-22; 14:19-20, 24; 19:9; 24:15-18; 33:9-10).

Covered the tent. Descended on the outer covering and rested there. Filled the

tabernacle. Entered inside, and filled both holy place and Holy of Holies.


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.”  Moses was not able to enter. It is implied that he wished —

nay, tried — to enter — but the “glory” prevented him. (Compare I Kings 8:11;

II Chronicles 5:14; 7:2.) Because the cloud abode thereon. It was not the external

“cloud” which prevented Moses from entering, but the internal “glory.” But the

two are regarded as inseparable.


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 the house of Israel, throughout all their

journeys.” And  when - i.e. “whensoever.” The last three verses describe the

manner in which the cloud  henceforth served the Israelites as guide — not only

directing their course, but determining when they were to move, and how long t

hey were to rest at each encampment. For a further account of the same, see

Numbers 9:15-23The cloud… was upon the tabernacle by day and fire was

on it by night. The cloud had two aspects — one obscure, the other radiant.

It was a dark column by day — a pillar of fire by night. Thus it was always visible.

Compare ch. 13:21-22; and ch.14:20, 24.  Numbers 9:15-16 says  And on the day

that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely,

the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it

were the appearance of fire, until the morning.  So it was alway: the cloud

covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.”




                           The Symbols of God’s  Presence (vs. 34-38)



            PURE LIGHT. “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5). “In Him

            was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). “In Him is no

            darkness at all” (I John 1:5). With clear unclouded radiance He shines

            on those who tread His heavenly courts, which need no other light besides

            Him. “The city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in

            it; for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof”

            (Revelation 21:23). With a radiance not much less bright, He looks

            upon His saints on earth, cheering them, illumining their paths, making

            them glad with the light of His countenance. He may veil Himself in

            condescension to their infirmity; but the veil is translucent; it covers

            without concealing; it tempers the brightness, but only as a thin haze

            tempers the splendors of the glory of day.



            MINGLED LIGHT AND CLOUD. To Abraham He appeared as “a

            smoking furnace and a burning lamp” (Genesis 15:17); to the Israelites

            at Sinai as combined smoke and fire (ch.19:18); to Solomon, dazzled by

            His glory, He was still one who “dwelt in the thick darkness”

            (I Kings 8:12). When Isaiah beheld Him sitting in His temple “the house

            was filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6:1-4); when Ezekiel “saw visions of

            God,” he “looked and behold, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself.”

            (Ezekiel 1:4 ) - Wherever the glory of the Lord is seen, wherever He looks

            upon men with mercy and compassion, there His proper symbolism is light,           

            though it may be a light partially obscured and mingled with darkness. For            

            darkness symbolizes His anger; and in the case of His wayward children, He         

            cannot but be at once compassionate and angry; displeased, yet anxious to            

            forgive.  Or the darkness may be the dense cloud of human ignorance which

            the Divine light can only partially pierce through. Any way, the bulk of men

            see God as a light amid smoke. “Clouds and darkness are round about

            him” (Psalm 97:2) — “He makes darkness His secret place, His pavilion

            round about Him with dark waters, and thick clouds to cover Him”

            (Psalm 18:11). Fire flashes out of the clouds occasionally; gleams of

            light stream forth; “at the brightness of His presence, His clouds remove”

            (ibid. v.12), and He is seen to be man’s “TRUE LIGHT.”



      This He is:


ü      To agnosticsto them who know Him not, and refuse to believe

      that He can be known;


ü      To them who have never heard of Him, but have a dim unconscious

                        feeling that some infinite unknown being exists;


ü      To them that have been taught to view Him as a remorseless,

      revengeful being, without pity or mercy;


ü      To them that, having known Him aright, have cast His words

      behind their back, thrown off His authority, and placed themselves

      in determined antagonism to His will and commandments. All is

dark in the future to such persons; and in the thought of God is “the

blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 1:13)  Because they have not

chosen “to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to

a reprobate mind” – (Romans 1:28). They “put bitter for sweet,

and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20) - He, in whom is no darkness

at all, is to them mere darkness. The God of this world has

“blinded their eyes” that they cannot see; and, like a blind man,

looking at the sun, the darkness which is in their own vision they

ascribe to the object which their dim sight, fails to distinguish.,

      God is “the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh

into the world (John 1:9). But if “the light that is within thee be

 darkness HOW GREAT IS THAT DARKNESS!”  (Matthew 6:23.)




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Vers. 34-38.

Indwelling and guidance.


HIS COMMANDMENTS. “Then the cloud,” etc. “And Moses was not

able to enter in,” etc.; it was claimed as his own and taken possession of by

the Lord.

1. The soul which comes by God’s way will be filled with God’s glory.

2. The Church which honours God he will glorify.

3. The full glory of the perfected Church, the bride of Christ.


taken up they went onward; when it rested they rested.

1. He is our guide in our onward journey.

(1) In providence. We must make sure that we follow him. It will not avail

to choose our own way and then ask God to be with us. We are to follow

his leading, not he ours.

(2) In grace. We may be mourning departed joy. There may be no longer

the freshness and power we once felt in the ministration of the word, or in

prayer. We have been slumbering and loitering. We have not striven to

press through our sins and into fuller light. The cloud has lifted and gone

onward, and we must follow after. “This one thing I do.”

2. He is our guide into patience.

(1) He teaches us to bear and so to overcome.

(2) By the resting of faith to possess and to grow. — U.


Vers. 34-38.

The house filled with glory.

The close of the book of Exodus is worthy of the greatness of its subject. It

ends where the history of the world will end, with the descent of Jehovah’s

glory to dwell with men (<662103>Revelation 21:3). We have seen Israel in

bondage; have beheld its redemption; have followed it through the

wilderness; have heard the thunders of the law at Sinai; have been

witnesses of the nation’s covenant with God; have seen its shameful

apostasy; have traced the steps of its reconciliation; have heard the

instructions given for the building of this tabernacle; have viewed the

tabernacle itself. We see now the symbol of Jehovah’s glorious presence in

the midst of the people whom he has thus in so many ways made his own.

What a wondrous succession of subjects we have thus had before us in the

course of our review. The intolerable anguish of oppressed Israel; the birth

of the deliverer; the singular providence of his early life; his great choice;

the call in Midian; the revelation of the name; the return to Egypt; first

failures; the long and tragic contest with Pharaoh; the hardening of

Pharaoh’s heart; the exodus; the Red Sea; the miracles of the desert; the

law; the covenant; the “patterns” shown to Moses in the mount; the sin of

the calf; the great intercession; the name of mercy; the preparation of the

sanctuary. There remains to complete the series only this final scene of the

entrance of Jehovah’s glory into the house prepared for his habitation. This

was the true consecration of the sanctuary, and the true consecration of the

nation. “A cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the

Lord filled the tabernacle” (ver. 14). In what is related in these verses we

have: —


1. Indwelling. The filling of the tabernacle with the glory was the symbol of

Jehovah’s taking up his abode in it, and so in Israel (cf. <022508>Exodus 25:8).

It testified

(1) to the completeness of his reconciliation with the people. Cf. <231201>Isaiah

12:1 — “O Lord, 1 will praise thee, though thou wast angry with me, thine

anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.”

(2) To his complacency in the beautiful house they had reared for him. Cf.

<19D214>Psalm 132:14 — “This is my rest for ever, here will I dwell; for I have

desired it.”

(3) To his desire to dwell among them. Note —

1. The true glory of the Church is God’s residence in her midst. This was

Israel’s highest distinction (<023316>Exodus 33:16).

2. We should pray that the time may come when the Church shall be, not

only dwelt in by her Lord, but “filled” with the “glory” of his presence

(Isaiah 60.).

2. Protection. The glory filled the tabernacle within, while the cloud spread

itself above the tent as a protective covering without. So is Jehovah the

protection of his Church (<230405>Isaiah 4:5, 6; <380205>Zechariah 2:5).

3. Guidance (vers. 36-38). See Homily on <021321>Exodus 13:21, 22.

II. A HINT OF IMPERFECTION. “Moses was not able to enter into the

tent of the congregation,” etc. (ver. 35). Thus are we reminded that, amidst

all these glorious circumstances, that which is perfect is not yet come.

1. Law, not gospel.

2. A material building, not a spiritual house.

3. Earth, not heaven. It was a glory

(1) too great for man to see. Even Moses, who had seen so much of the

Divine glory, was not able to look upon it.

(2) Too great for such a building — a mere material structure — to

contain. Man longs for nearer communion. So great a glory needs a better

house to contain it — a spiritual (<600205>1 Peter 2:5).

III. A FORECAST OF WHAT SHALL BE. That which is perfect is not

yet come, but it will come by-and-by.

1. The tabernacle of God will be with men, and he will dwell among them

(<662103>Revelation 21:3, 4). His glory will fill it. “The glory of God did lighten

it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (<662123>Revelation 21:23).

2. This glory will be no longer unapproachable. We shall be able to endure

the sight. “His servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face”

(<662203>Revelation 22:3, 4). We shall receive the Vision.

3. This, however, will only be when earthly conditions have been

exchanged for heavenly. “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and

this mortal must put on immortality” (<461553>1 Corinthians 15:53). Till that

hour arrives, we must be content to “walk by faith, not by sight” (<470507>2

Corinthians 5:7), seeing only “as through a glass darkly” (<461312>1 Corinthians

13:12). — J.O.