Day 24

Tuesday, March 16
Exodus 39-40

As you read this passage in Exodus, it might seem tempting to skip over the details. Don’t do it. I’d encourage you to take time to pay attention to all that is being described.

These aren’t complex features designed to annoy the reader. Instead, there are holy reasons written into each twist and turn of gold and colorful yarn, divine depths singing from every piece of twisted linen and onyx stone.  Master craftsmen are at work in these chapters, carefully arranging each and every part of what a priest of the Lord would wear in the tabernacle. The items being described here, precious jewels, metals, and fabric in all of their minutiae, were parts of garments that the priest put on before entering into the glory of God.

There are a thousand details captured here, and yet Moses and God’s people, Israel, attended to each and every one of them, obeying God’s commands down to the tiniest subtlety. The holy tabernacle of God, a movable temple where God dwells in power in the midst of God’s people, was being created, and the details of it are shared here in order to make us aware of its exquisite glory.

Still, why share all of these specifics, recounting each gem, piece of gold, and exotic span of clothing? Why share Moses’ impressions of each furnishing, lamp stand, utensil, and curtain inside that tabernacle, as well as the utter specificity of the directions regarding where each of them must be placed?

The answer can be found in chapter 40, verses 34-35. This happened because God desired to come and live with the people of Israel, and God does just that, the glory of the Lord settling over that highly-detailed tent like a mighty thundercloud of power and glory. God plans to be present with those God loves, and so prepares God’s people for this, equipping them with the details that reflect glory in order that they might be ready for God’s own.
All of this would be awe-inspiring, the God of the universe coming to be present with people like you and me, and it would likely feel new to us as it did to the people of Israel! Yet there something else that makes this newness even more poignant. In Exodus 19-24, promises are made between the people and God, followed by instructions for how to prepare the tabernacle. After this, however (in Exodus 32-34), the people break these promises. They fall short of God’s glory, just as we have done.

And God forgives them, welcoming them back. It is only after this forgiveness that the people prepare with all of the glorious details above, creating the newness that God has offered to them. It is after God’s people have broken promises that God offers more to them than they have ever experienced before.

This God of grace and newness shapes our lives for glory too.
May we be also willing to pay attention.

Reflection by Rev. Adam Baker

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