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All the preparations for the tabernacle were not an end in themselves, they were all for this moment. God’s glorious presence filled the Tabernacle. What would it be like to experience that today?

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Bible passage Exodus 40:1–16,34–38

Exodus 40

Setting Up the Tabernacle
 1 Then the LORD said to Moses: 2 "Set up the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the first month. 3 Place the ark of the Testimony in it and shield the ark with the curtain. 4 Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5 Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the Testimony and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.

 6 "Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting; 7 place the basin between the Tent of Meeting and the altar and put water in it. 8 Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.

 9 "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 for all generations to come." 16 Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded him.

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 upon 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 house of Israel during all their travels.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Finished Tabernacle
The instructions for preparing the Tabernacle and then the implementation of those instructions has filled the later pages of Exodus. Now, at the end of the book, we see the fulfilment of God’s plans: Tabernacle complete, furniture laid out according to plan, anointed and set apart for holy use, and God’s glorious presence dwelling with his people.

There is now a whole priestly system to allow the people to be represented before the holy God. The people are now living in response to God’s presence and care for them. This is an exciting moment in our Bible reading. But would we want that today?

Connected to God
Actually, our situation is even better. Our High Priest is not a sinner who has to make offerings for himself, but a perfect High Priest who has made a once and for all perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 9:11–14; 10:11–25).

God’s glorious presence is still in the midst of his people, but not separated from us by the Tabernacle ritual processes. Today God dwells by his Spirit within each of his people: we are a new temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21). We get to live in response to God’s presence and care for us.


All that we have is ours because of Jesus. Bold I approach the eternal throne! God’s presence with us, and direct access to God’s throne. Hallelujah, what a Saviour!

Peter Mead

Deeper Bible study

‘Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns.’ (Psalm 96:9,10)

As our Exodus readings conclude, everything is set up for God’s dwelling, including Aaron and his sons as priests. The drumbeat of ‘as the Lord commanded’ comes to a quickening climax. Just as God ‘finished the work’ of creation (Genesis 2:2), ‘so Moses finished the work’ God had given him (v 33), preparing God’s dwelling ‘exactly like the pattern I will show you’ (25:8,9). God approves, as ‘the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle’ (vs 34,35). The warning after the golden-calf incident ‘if I were to go with you even for a moment’ (33:5) is replaced by his presence ‘during all their travels’ (40:38). The tabernacle marks the renewal of the ‘walking’ in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8; compare Leviticus 26:12; 2 Samuel 7:6,7). ‘That the Lord desires to dwell among his people in the tabernacle suggests a restoration of the purposes for which he created humanity … [but] there is a mechanism whereby he could simultaneously be present and yet protect the people from his holiness’1. Entry to the inner sanctuary is restricted (even ‘Moses could not enter’; v 35) and the altar has been set up.

Centuries later, we rejoice as ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory’ (John 1:14). The veil has been torn in two (Matthew 27:51) and ‘we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus’ (Hebrews 10:19). The narrative we have been reading over the past two weeks helps us to reflect on the depth of human rebellion that so easily turns from the one Lord and the grace of God who forgives and who himself makes the way to dwell with us. It is his glory, now given to be with and in us, that is to be made known in all the world (John 17:22,23).

John Olley


1 W Ross Blackburn, The God who makes himself known, IVP, 2012, p147

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Visual worship

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The tabernacle was made up of so many different visual aids to help people worship God. What visual aids do you find helpful to inspire your prayer and praise? Watch the slideshow here, or find something you could look at now, as you spend time in worship of the Creator.


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To be in your presence (This is my desire)
Noel Richards.
Copyright © 1991 Thankyou Music

  • Song: There's a sound (Restoration Song)
  • Composer: Lou Fellingham, Nathan Fellingham and busbee
  • Artist: Lou Fellingham
  • Album: Promised Land
  • Publisher: Kingsway Music
  • Copyright: Copyright © 2008 Thankyou Music & The Livingstone Collective/kingswaysongs.com
  • Buy this album here

  • Frank Collins | Saturday, 02 December 2017

    ROGER I don’t think that it was a years wage that Mary used it was the value of something that was sitting on the shelf waiting to be used. What she did was use it at the right time. The bit for us as demonstrated by Moses and Mary is do we have talents assets and gifts that are just sitting on the shelf gathering dust and not being used. Why? There are lots of reasons. If we just had our spiritual ears open we might not be so stressed in our daily lives. Looking forward to this season of advent.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 02 December 2017

    Good summing up today by WL team. I am completely in awe of life today. My visual aid lately is the words written in 1 John. The more I am empty of self the more I am filled with the glory of God. I am so rich with so much to thank God for yet I don't even own a brick of the house I live in but I have words in me like 'He sent His Son into the world that we might live through Him. Through means into and out of. How rich is that? Whoever has the Son has life. How rich is that? If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. How rich is that? I could go on all day!

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 02 December 2017

    AMEN! Absolutely wonderful GILVIN. How rich we are as we share in the presence of God in us......."And He walks with me and He talks with me and tells me I am His own; and the joy we share......" God has chosen to be with us. God is among His people; we are content.

  • Carol Stockman | Saturday, 02 December 2017

    Thank you heavenly father that you have promised to be with us on our journey on earth. Thank you Jesus makes it possible to approach our father. Thank you the news about my breast cancer yesterday was good, they got it all. I am now waiting for the news about the lymph nodes as that will dictate whether I have to have chemotherapy. I really feel held by his mighty hand through these difficult days. Praise Him.

  • Eileen Smith | Saturday, 02 December 2017

    Rejoicing with you CAROL & giving thanks & praise to Almighty God

  • Rebecca Huie | Saturday, 02 December 2017

    The Lord is so good! We thank Him for your good report, Carol! What a blessing!!

  • Ruth Lewis | Saturday, 02 December 2017

    Praising God for your good report CAROL!!!

  • Barbara Sabin | Saturday, 02 December 2017

    When I gaze into the night sky and see the work of your fingers, the moon and stars suspended in space,Oh, what is man that you are mindful of him? You have given man a crown of glory and honour, And have made him a little lower than the angels. You have put him in charge of all creation: beasts of the field, The birds of the air, The fish of the sea. Oh, what is man? Oh, what is man that you are mindful of him? O Lord, our God the majesty and glory of your name Transcends the earth and fills the heavens. O Lord, our God; little children praise You perfectly, And so would we. And so would we. Alleluia! Alleluia! The majesty and glory of Your name. Alleluia https://youtu.be/NfaQ8qoCUaA

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