Scripture: Exodus 40:16-38
16 Thus did Moses; according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did. 17 And in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18 Moses erected the tabernacle; he laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars; 19 and he spread the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent over it, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 20 And he took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark, and set the mercy seat above on the ark; 21 and he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony; as the LORD had commanded Moses. 22 And he put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil, 23 and set the bread in order on it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses.Meditation: The people spent eighteen months at Sinai. Upon the completion of the tabernacle, the tables of stone, upon which the ten commandments were written, and some of the manna was put into the ark. When all the work was finished, the pillar of cloud which signified the Lord's continual presence with his people throughout their wilderness sojourn now rested over the tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The Lord's presence and glory in the tabernacle was so visibly experienced by the people that even Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting. God at last had made him home with them. He was no longer the devouring fire of Sinai, but the God of mercy and grace who had pitched his tent with sinners.
24 And he put 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 had commanded Moses. 26 And he put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil, 27 and burnt fragrant incense upon it; as the LORD had commanded Moses. 28 And he put in place the screen for the door of the tabernacle. 29 And he set the altar of burnt offering at the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the cereal offering; as the LORD had commanded Moses. 30 And he set the laver between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, 31 with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet; 32 when they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses. 33 And he erected the court round the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; 37 but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. 38 For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.
Now that the Lord had revealed the attributes of his character needed for dealing with sinners, and had taught them his commandments, and given them the tabernacle and a system of worship that would keep them in a relationship with him, they could continue their journey to the promised land. They had learned the cost of going ahead of the Lord and doing things their way. They did not want to provoke the Lord's wrath nor lose his presence. Now they would wait until the Lord made clear through the cloud of presence that it was time to move forward. The cloud of presence never left them until they reached the promised land; and they never went ahead of it, for fear of losing the God who dwelt in their midst.
The Lord fills he new covenant temple and he dwells with his people today through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22). The Lord Jesus is our Way and our Light to the Father and to the promised land of heaven (John 7:12; 14:6).
"Lord Jesus, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You sustain us
on our journey with the bread of heaven and your life-giving word. Help
me to faithfully follow the path you have chosen for me that I may I never
depart from your presence."