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Read Exodus 40

Setting Up the Tabernacle

1 Then the Lord said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.

“Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.

“Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. 10 Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. 11 Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them.

12 “Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 13 Then dress Aaron in the sacred garments, anoint him and consecrate him so he may serve me as priest. 14 Bring his sons and dress them in tunics. 15 Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.” 16 Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him.

17 So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year. 18 When Moses set up the tabernacle, he put the bases in place, erected the frames, inserted the crossbars and set up the posts.19 Then he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering over the tent, as the Lord commanded him.

20 He took the tablets of the covenant law and placed them in the ark, attached the poles to the ark and put the atonement cover over it. 21 Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle and hung the shielding curtain and shielded the ark of the covenant law, as the Lord commanded him.

22 Moses placed the table in the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle outside the curtain 23 and set out the bread on it before the Lord, as the Lord commanded him.

24 He placed the lampstand in the tent of meeting opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle 25 and set up the lamps before the Lord, as the Lord commanded him.

26 Moses placed the gold altar in the tent of meeting in front of the curtain27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the Lord commanded him.

28 Then he put up the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle. 29 He set the altar of burnt offering near the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, and offered on it burnt offerings and grain offerings, as the Lord commanded him.

30 He placed the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing, 31 and Moses and Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet. 32 They washed whenever they entered the tent of meeting or approached the altar, as the Lord commanded Moses.

33 Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.

The Glory of the Lord

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.

Editor's note

You did it–you made it all the way to Exodus 40! Come back tomorrow for a recap of the book and for a few reflective questions for you to think about as you look back at all you’ve read over the last seven weeks. On Monday we’re going back to the New Testament and reading through Hebrews, a book that builds on a lot of what we’ve read in Genesis and Exodus. Invite your Life Group or a friend to read alongside you. We’re so excited to continue this journey through scripture with you. 

– The BRP Team

Go Deeper

What an ending to Exodus! Almost exactly a year from their freedom from Egypt, the tabernacle is ready. But, before we jump to the end, let’s sit with anticipation for a few moments. 

Remember where we started? A group of slaves without a way out. A people with no leader. Darkness, misery, and oppression. Enter, a reluctant leader who asks for another to be sent in his place. Then, a story ensues of supernatural deliverance, disobedience, forgiveness, provision, instructions, obedience, faithfulness, and ultimately the preparation of the tabernacle for God’s presence. 

God commanded every detail about the tabernacle’s construction and purpose. Moses had delivered every word to the Israelites. All instructions had been given and carried out and now… the anticipation of glory. Not any glory, no. Shekinah glory. The glory of the One and only God, His divine presence.

Imagine the emotions of the Hebrews. Awe and wonder. Accomplishment and purpose. They worked diligently to finish the work God commanded them to do. The Israelites had moments of failure and disobedience over the course of their year of freedom, but God is faithful to His Word, not ours. And since He deemed the tabernacle as acceptable and holy, He did what He promised. He filled the dwelling place with His glory. 

Exodus doesn’t end with a description of how beautiful the tabernacle is or the materials in it. We couldn’t comprehend it if it did. Exodus ends with a description of how its purpose was fulfilled. The tabernacle was built so that God could dwell among the Israelites. God in their midst. The only God of His kind. The only religion where God comes down to the people. 

Because God can’t stay away from His people. He is with us. He loves us with an everlasting love—a never stopping, unbreaking, never giving up, always and forever love. Let’s be people who are beautiful dwelling places of the Holy Spirit. People who fulfill the purpose for which we were made—to love God and love others. 

Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 

John 14:23

  1. What do you think the first year of freedom was like for the Israelites? For Moses? 
  2. What do you learn from the Israelites? From Moses?
  3. How do others know you are set apart for God?
Did You Know?

Exodus 40:35 tells us that Moses couldn’t enter the tabernacle because the glory cloud had settled on it. More provisions needed to be made, which is where the book of Leviticus (the next book in the Pentateuch) comes into play. 

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4 thoughts on “Exodus 40”

  1. As I read this final chapter of Exodus, I am overcome with emotion. The materials had been gathered & fashioned into specific pieces, now the tabernacle was assembled and consecrated as most holy to the Lord. The work was finally finished. Aaron & his sons were consecrated to serve as priests, the same Aaron in Exodus 32 who had caved to the people and created an idol of a golden calf. It gives me hope that despite all my sins & failures, he still calls out imperfect people to accomplish his work. And then, his glory filled the place just as he promised! This cloud would continue to guide the Israelites until they reached their final destination of the promised land. Let’s remember that our hearts are his tabernacle where his Holy Spirit dwells to guide, teach, & comfort us. Love came down to rescue us from ourselves and invite us into an everlasting relationship with himself. What a Savior!

  2. Amen, Ella! And what a huge “thank you!” To the BRP team for the tremendous effort in putting together our reading plans!

    The thoughtful “go deeper” and audio portions illuminated some chapters in such a fresh way that frankly, on my own, I may not have gotten much out of so again, thank you. Excited for Hebrews!

  3. 1 – utterly absurd, magnificent and glorious; yet so understandable, relatable and real. I think it must have been a heavy year for both Moses and israel. Israel had to cope with a lot, something they said they wanted but could not be or do (on their own). They had a year of discovering the hand that fed them, a year of discovering how to work as one nation, a year discovering the bad and good. And while they were still trying to be as free as possible, Moses was buzzy together with God to lead them not just to the Promised Land but also to God. Moses had a year of figuring out how to step out of the old and/or bad into the new and God’s presence.

    2 – be more patient and sometimes just wait. Do not always try to act, but if there is time for action, give it your all and do it with excellence; All while listening to God’s will and instructions and doing it for him. That is what stood out even though it is not something I have learned to apply in my life yet, it is something I now aspire and persu. From Moses I learn how strong and powerful a relationship with God can be and how that relationship has an effect on everything. I have learned from him a bit of boldness and a lot of awe for and to God. And He has let me see how important, even in this day and age, to have spiritual human leaders that stand between God, Jesus, and us for knowledge.

    3 – don’t know. I do try to put out love but I don’t know if that is for others an indicator that I’m ‘set apart’. I know I can still grow and I know I’m not clothed with God fully, yet. But most important thing is that I am ‘set apart’ and invite any how wants, to know and learn and grow in his love and power.

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