June 8, 2010 David Balzer

Exodus 35-40: Glorious Climax:

Have you had a chance to talk to Michael and Amy about their journey? Their trip of a lifetime? They were in Europe and Asia for a year. And they’ve got some GREAT stories. And lots of great photos, too. And they’re very aware of how God GUIDED them and PROTECTED them as they travelled.

But like all journeys, it had to come to an end. And they arrived home. Back to Sydney. Back to family and friends. To comfortable beds, and home-cooked meals.

But also back to jobs, uni, dirty washing, and debts.

I haven’t asked them this, but I reckon they’d feel a bit FLAT for a while. Like things were an anti-climax. All this action for so long. And then just back into the normal everyday life. Life would feel like a bit of a let-down.

(pause) Well, today WE reach the end of a journey. A journey with Israel through the book of Exodus. And we’ve come to the last chapters. And at first glance they seem like a bit of a let-down too. An anti-climax.

It’s a journey that started with God’s people in slavery. Hard labour. Harsh treatment. Difficult conditions. Impossible work demands.

But God rescued them. He showed his power over the whole creation by sending plagues. And he rescued EVERY ONE of his people. They left Egypt, and they crossed the Red Sea. And all Pharaoh’s army was destroyed. And Israel worship God. And that’s all by Ch 15.

But there’s 25 more chapters. And by comparison, they seem like a bit of an anticlimax. A let-down. They’re short on action, but long on detail. A bit thin in terms of plot, or movement. But full of information and lists.

First there’s lots of LAWS at Mt Sinai. “Do this. Don’t do that”. That’s chapters 19 to 24. Then lots of information about how to build the tabernacle. That’s chapters 25 to31. Then a few chapters about how close Moses was to God. And then finally, some MORE chapters about how the tabernacle was actually BUILT. That’s the chapters we’re looking at today.

And Israel doesn’t MOVE from the foot of Mt Sinai from Ch 19 to the end of Ch 40.

15 chapters of action. Then 25 chapters of information. Chapter after chapter of how to please God. How to live. How to worship. How to build the tabernacle for God to dwell in.

Surely the writer’s got it the wrong way round. Because that’s not how to write a best-seller!

UNLESS… Unless these last 25 chapters are really the IMPORTANT ones. The climax of the whole story. The high point of the journey.     And that’s EXACTLY what’s going on.

Because the whole point – the whole purpose – of the SLAVERY and the RESCUE/ was so that God could DWELL WITH HIS PEOPLE, and they could WORSHIP him. Listen to what God says in Ex 29: 45-46. He’s talking about the Tabernacle.

(Exo 29:42-46 NIV)  “For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the LORD. THERE I WILL MEET YOU AND SPEAK TO YOU; {43} there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. {44} “So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. {45} THEN I WILL DWELL AMONG THE ISRAELITES AND BE THEIR GOD. {46} They will know that I am the LORD their God, WHO BROUGHT THEM OUT OF EGYPT SO THAT I MIGHT DWELL AMONG THEM. I am the LORD their God.

God rescued his people so that he could dwell with them, and so that they could worship him.

And so what we see as we journey through Exodus is a pattern of SLAVERY, RESCUE, and WORSHIP. SLAVERY, RESCUE, and WORSHIP.

And that’s really the pattern for each one of us. Slavery, rescue and worship. The journey for each of US started with slavery. Slavery to sin and . Helpless. Hopeless. On the road to nowhere.

But then God rescued us. Like turning a light on in a dark room. Someone told us the good news of the gospel/ that in Jesus, we can have our sin forgiven. And we realised that’s what we needed. So we put our trust in Jesus.

And God forgave our sin. He filled us with his Holy Spirit. And he made us into new people. Sin and were defeated. Drowned in the Red Sea.

For some of us it was a SPECTACULAR rescue. There were DRAMATIC CHANGES in our lives. For others it didn’t seem too spectacular. God gradually brought us along the road to faith. Perhaps our parents told us about Jesus from the time we were babies.

But each rescue was a miracle that only God could do.

Slavery and rescue.

And now our journey involves worship. Meeting with God, and living for him. A life of submission to what HE wants. A life of walking closely with him. It’s what life is all about.

The Shorter Catechism puts it this way. Question 1. “What is the chief and highest purpose of mankind?” “The chief and highest purpose of mankind is to glorify God, and to fully enjoy him forever.”

Worship is what we were MADE for. It’s our GOAL. Just like it was for Israel in Exodus.

So as we look at these final climactic chapters of Exodus, let’s remember that Israel’s goal is OUR goal too. And as they worship and wonder at God dwelling among them, let’s do that too.

Getting Ready for Royalty (35:1-40:33)

Chapter 35. You might remember what we got up to last week. Moses has got all the instructions for the Tabernacle. He’s got all the laws that the people are to obey. God’s promised that he WILL go with them as long as they’re obedient.

Perhaps the people finally come to their senses. Perhaps the thought of travelling through the desert WITHOUT God has shocked them. Because in Ch 35, when Moses tells them to bring all the materials to build the Tabernacle, the people jump to it!

They can’t wait to bring everything that’s needed. The theme that keeps appearing here/ is that the people were WILLING. Look at ch 35 v 20.

(Exo 35:20-29 NIV)  Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, {21} and EVERYONE WHO WAS WILLING AND WHOSE HEART MOVED HIM came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. {22} ALL WHO WERE WILLING, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD. {23} Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. {24} Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. {25} Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun–blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. {26} AND ALL THE WOMEN WHO WERE WILLING and had the skill spun the goat hair. {27} The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. {28} They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. {29} ALL THE ISRAELITE MEN AND WOMEN WHO WERE WILLING brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do.

And in fact, they’re SO WILLING, that the craftsmen have to tell Moses to stop the people from bringing anything more! Over in Ch 36, v4

(Exo 36:4-6 NIV)  So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work {5} and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done.” {6} Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more,

The point is/ God’s coming to visit, and the people are keen to make sure they’re ready. Because they’re getting ready for royalty.

But they’re not doing it alone. Notice that God gives his Spirit to help them. He gives them the skill and ability to do the job. Look at Ch 35 v 30.

(Exo 35:30-35 NIV)  Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, {31} and he has FILLED HIM WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD, WITH SKILL, ABILITY AND KNOWLEDGE in all kinds of crafts– {32} to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, {33} to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. {34} And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, THE ABILITY TO TEACH OTHERS. {35} HE HAS FILLED THEM WITH SKILL to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers–all of them master craftsmen and designers.

(Exo 36:1-2 NIV)  So Bezalel, Oholiab and EVERY SKILLED PERSON TO WHOM THE LORD HAS GIVEN SKILL AND ABILITY to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded.” {2} Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and EVERY SKILLED PERSON TO WHOM THE LORD HAD GIVEN ABILITY and who was willing to come and do the work.

Do you get the message? This is no working bee – slap it up – she’ll be right, mate – job. This is precision craftsmanship. Fine work. Fit for a king. And that’s the point. They’re getting ready for royalty.

Then finally, in Ch 39 v 32, everything’s finished. And the people bring the tabernacle to Moses. And in v43, Moses inspects the work. And he gives it the “thumbs up”. The first “quality assured” product.

Ch 40 describes how Moses sets up the Tabernacle.

Now when a CIRCUS comes to town, it takes dozens of men a long time to put up the main tent. But in Ch 40 it comes across like Moses himself does everything. He puts up the whole Tabernacle himself. If that’s the case/ imagine all the people standing around in awe as each part of their work comes together for the first time? This is a slow, majestic, reverent process.

“See that? I made that curtain”

“Look there’s my hide”

“Hey, didn’t I do a great job on those posts?”

It would have taken a long time. Remember Moses was more than eighty years old. And the suspense would build. Piece by piece the whole thing would come together. And as each piece was finished, Moses would anoint it, and set it apart for its special task.

Slowly, before their eyes, the Tabernacle started to take shape. The place where God would come and dwell with his people. Something that had never happened before in the history of the world!

And God is waiting too. He’s been waiting a long time. Because remember, he WANTS to dwell with his people. His re is to love and to forgive. He’s waiting for his palace to be finished.

The king is in the house. (40:34-38)

And then finally, everything’s ready. Moses finishes the work. He performed all the sacrifices. The tables and the altar are just so. The curtains and the coverings are all sitting straight.

Everything’s ready for the arrival of the king.

And he stands back to see what will happen. It’s time for God to visit. Verse 34. The king is in the house.

(Exo 40:34-38 NIV)  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.

God was true to his word. He HADN’T left his people. He WOULD travel with them. He arrives in his glory.

The Glory:

Glory’s an interesting word. It can mean something like “honour”, or “fame” or “renown”. God says he gained glory for himself through Pharaoh being drowned in the Red Sea.

But here it seems to be talking about something different. It’s almost like God’s glory is something concrete – physical – something you can see and feel. Like a cloud.

Remember it’s the cloud that’s been the sign of God’s presence right through Exodus. Back in ch 16 v 10.

(Exo 16:10 NIV)  While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.

And a bit later in Ch 24 v 15, the glory comes down on Mt Sinai.

(Exo 24:15-18 NIV)  When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, {16} and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. {17} To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. {18} Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

And then, as if Moses hasn’t seen enough, in Ch 33 v 18, he asks to SEE God’s glory.

(Exo 33:18-23 NIV)  Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” {19} And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. {20} But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” {21} Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. {22} When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. {23} Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

And we get a hint of what the glory might be like/ when God actually DOES it. He shows Moses his glory.

The glory, or renown, of God, is his CHARACTER and ACTIONS. THAT’S what he reveals to Moses. Ch 34 v5

(Exo 34:5-7 NIV)  Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his NAME, the LORD. {6} And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, {7} maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

And now, here in Ch 40, God’s presence has come down into the middle of the camp. For everyone to see.

Notice the progression? The cloud in the sky. The cloud on Mt Sinai. The cloud appearing just to Moses. Then finally, the cloud coming down in the middle of everyone. Each step, God is getting closer.

(pause) And we could continue. The Tabernacle’s only the TEMPORARY palace. A while later, Solomon builds God a permanent temple. And God’s glory fills the temple in 1 Ki 8 and 2 Chron 5. Just like it did the Tabernacle.

After a while, Israel strays from God, and worships OTHER gods. And so God punishes them by sending them into exile. And it’s in exile that the prophet Ezekiel receives a vision. It’s a vision of God’s glory departing from the temple because of Israel’s idolatry. That’s in Ez 10-11.

Eventually, Israel returns from Israel to rebuild Jerusalem. And seventy years later, a new temple is built under the direction of Ezra and Nehemiah. Zerub l is the governor who oversees all the work.

But when it’s finished, it’s a pretty poor substitute. Ezra tells us that the older priests WEPT when they saw this new temple because they couldn’t help comparing it to how great the first one was.

But one of the other prophets around at the time was Haggai. And God gave him a prophecy. God promises that one day he WILL return to the temple, and fill it with his glory. Hag 2 v2

(Hag 2:2-9 NIV)  “Speak to Zerub l, governor of Judah, to Joshua, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, {3} ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? {4} But now be strong, O Zerub l,’ declares the LORD. ‘Be strong, O Joshua. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty. {5} ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ {6} “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. {7} I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I WILL FILL THIS HOUSE WITH GLORY,’ says the LORD Almighty. {8} ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. {9} ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”

And so they waited. Waited for the glory of God to come to the temple. For that momentous event when God would shake the heavens and the earth. 400 years went by. And still nothing.

Eventually, the Romans conquered Israel. And in 66 BC they carried off everything they could find in the temple. So much for God coming in glory to the temple!

So what sort of glory was God talking about? When would it come? Perhaps God COULDN’T be trusted.

It was only 60 years later that God finally came good on his promises. His glory finally descended. He finally visited his people again. The prophecy of Hag ch 2 was fulfilled.

Turn to John ch 1 v 14. Describing Jesus.

(John 1:14 NIV)  The Word became flesh and MADE HIS DWELLING among us. We have seen his GLORY, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Moses saw God’s glory when he saw God’s CHARACTER. Compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet justly punishing the wicked.

And it’s the same with Jesus. It’s in Jesus that we see glory. We see grace and truth. The way he dealt with people. The way he spoke. His compassion for the lost. His anger at false shepherds. His patience. His faithfulness and obedience to his Father’s will.

And as much as we see his glory in LIFE, it’s in that God’s monumental, earth-shattering glory is revealed. It’s the cross that the Haggai 2 prophecy was talking about. When the heavens and the earth will be shaken. And when the whole world will to see God’s glory.

Because it’s in the CROSS that we see God’s love and justice. That’s his glory. We see the wisdom of God’s plan for dealing with sin and .

The glory of Jesus is seen in his and resurrection. Because it was in that event that God conquered sin and . It was that event that was the centre of God’s rescue plan for his people. The cross is God’s glory.

Moses prayed to see God’s glory. God told him that no man may see his face and live. And yet God showed Moses his glory by hiding him in a in the rock. And Moses’ face shone.

Do you ever wish you’d been Moses on that day? Perhaps not for the REST of the time in the desert. But at least on THAT day! What a privilege to see God’s glory!

But in a sense, we’re much more privileged than Moses EVER was. Because we’ve seen Jesus. We experience him in the pages of the Gospels. We experience him in our lives as we submit to his authority.

In a few moments we’re going to sing a song about that. It’s a Charles Wesley hymn based on when Moses saw God’s glory. And Wesley compares that experience to what we can experience. Let me read you a of verses. (put on o’h)

4. Moses, your backward parts might view,

but not a perfect sight obtain;

The gospel does your fulness show

To us, by the commandment slain.

The to sin shall find the grace,

The pure in heart shall see your face.

5. More favoured than the saints of old,

Who now through faith approach to Thee

Shall all with open face behold

In Christ, the glorious deity,

Shall see, and put the Godhead on,

The re of your glorious son.

And then do you see where Wesley starts to go? An experience of God’s glory changes us. Moses’ face glowed after he met with God. Yet, for us who know Jesus, who have his Spirit living IN us, HOW MUCH MORE should we ALSO be changed. How much more should we have attitudes of gratitude, repentance, love, humility, and thankfulness to God. And how much more should our lives reflect that goodness in actions and words and thoughts which honour him. As we allow God’s Spirit to change us, and make us like Jesus.

Listen to what 2 Cor 3 says. Once again it compares Moses experience with ours. BEFORE Jesus compared to AFTER. 2 Cor 3 v 7.

(2 Cor 3:7-18 NIV)  Now if the ministry that brought , which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, {8} will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? {9} If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! {10} For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. {11} And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

{12} Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. {13} We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. {14} But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. {15} Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. {16} But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. {17} Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. {18} AND WE, WHO WITH UNVEILED FACES ALL REFLECT THE LORD’S GLORY, ARE BEING TRANSFORMED INTO HIS LIKENESS WITH EVER-INCREASING GLORY, WHICH COMES FROM THE LORD, WHO IS THE SPIRIT.

What we have in Jesus is much more glorious than Moses ever experienced. And it’s glory that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Let me finish by reading the last verse of that Wesley hymn. It talks about God transforming us NOW, but it finishes with the image of heaven. When we’ll experience God’s glory in Jesus in a way we can hardly imagine. When we’ll understand completely. When we’ll know absolutely.

6. This, this is our high calling’s prize;

Your image in your son I claim,

And still to higher glories rise,

Till all transformed I know your name,

And glide to all my heaven above

My highest heaven of Jesus’ love.

Let’s pray

Eph 3:14-21?

Last verse of hymn.?

But perhaps you’re thinking your life is a bit like Exodus? Perhaps it feels like the first part of our life was the spectacular bit. When all the really INTERESTING stuff happened. When you really knew how to have fun.

But now you’re in the LONG bit. The worshipping bit. And it just seems to be dragging on. 15 chapters of good stuff. But then 25 chapters of rules and regulations.

If you’re sometimes tempted to think like that, then Exodus is talking to YOU. Because to worship the God who dwells with us is the CLIMAX of life. The goal. It’s what we were made for.

Don’t look back to Egypt, but keep your eyes on God. Seek his face. Just like Moses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *