Saturday 05 May 2012

Bible Book:

"He set up the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and put up the screen at the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work." (v. 33)

Exodus 40:17-38 Saturday 5 May 2012


We reach the end of the book of Exodus with the completion ofthe tabernacle of God. The story of Exodus began with theIsraelites in slavery in Egypt, oppressed and crying out to a Godwho did not seem to answer their prayers. This book reaches aclimax, not with the point where they gain their own land, but withthe point where God's tabernacle - which symbolises God's presencewith them - is complete. They are still a nomadic people, so God'sdwelling place is a tent, but still it is clear that the creationof this dwelling place, is important.

Some commentators find several references in the text to theoriginal act of creation. For example, the tabernacle is created onthe "first day" (v. 17). Verse 16 introduces this passage with thestatement that Moses did everything that Yahweh had commanded himand that statement is echoed seven times as the story continues(verses 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32). The fact that it is repeatedseven times may indicated total and complete obedience (becauseseven was seen as the perfect number), but it does remind us thatcreation was completed in seven acts (with twoacts happening on the third day, thus allowing God to rest on theseventh day). The reading ends with the claim that Moses "finished"the work in just the same way that Genesis2:1-2 ends the creation story by saying that God "finished" thework. Perhaps there is here a story of new creation - thecompletion of the tabernacle gives Israel a new start and says thatthey have been made a 'new people' - God's people.

And then the journey continues, the same but different; verse 34onwards describes a new sense of God's presence leading the peopleof Israel as they set out once more.

To Ponder

  • What significance do you see in the creation of the tabernaclebefore the Israelites reach the land they have been dreamingabout?
  • Do you have any tabernacles, ie places where God seemsespecially close? What are they? And how do you feel the nearnessof God there?

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