Thursday 30 July 2009

Bible Book:

"Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on each stage of their journey." (v.34-36)

Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38 Thursday 30 July 2009


Today's passage lies at the end of the book of Exodus. Althoughit would be many years before the people came to the Promised Land,these events mark an important moment in the people's preparationby God. It is the beginning of the end of their time wandering inthe wilderness after coming out of Egypt.

Significantly, their journey is not over, but now the glory of theLord fills the tent (the tabernacle) in which they keep the stonetablets on which are written God's Law. Moses has prepared the tentof meeting carefully, as instructed by God. It was a temporarystructure made of poles and a covering which the people would needto disassemble to move forward.

Although the people now felt relatively safe with the glory of theLord among them, it continued in the story as a physical, dangerouspresence. They are reminded to be humble; that the holiness of theark of the covenant and its stone tablets comes not from humanity,but from God.

Here, there is a pastoral caution to the people not to be lost oncontemporary readers. The people had murmured against Moses andbetrayed the Lord over the course of their journey, going as far asmaking and worshipping the golden calf in Exodus chapter 32.God renewed the Covenant with them, though vastly destructiveresults came from their betrayal. Now the Israelites would alwayshave a present reminder in the presence of the glory of God withthem that holiness did not come from them, but from God.

This glory would be their strength, but also a watchguard to helpthem remember humility. Not in their own strength, but in God'swould they go forward on their journey. This was absolutely not tohumiliate the people, but to protect them. Their own strength (likeany other idol) would not do the job of protection and nurture thatGod's Covenant would. This pastoral lesson at the end of Exodusstill has resonance today, as God's people journey forward.

To Ponder

Do you feel protected by God? Why, or whynot?

When people say 'Walk in God's strength, not yourown,' it can be a way to avoid responsibility for action. How doyou respond to this statement?

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