ODJ: Dwelling with Us

February 7, 2018 

READ: Exodus 40:1-38 

At last Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle (vv.33-34).

Those who’ve read through the Bible in a year know how challenging it can be to make it through certain stretches of Scripture. The second half of Exodus is one of them. After a compelling account of Israel’s dramatic rescue from Egypt, Moses devotes nearly a third of the book to describing in great detail the plans for building the tabernacle. Within all the details, however, lies a great story that’s just as true for us today as it was then.

The tabernacle was a portable sanctuary designed by God to be the place where He would dwell with His people as they journeyed to take possession of the Promised Land (Exodus 40:34-38). But the Israelites nearly ruined everything before a single piece of wood was measured or cut. While Moses was up on Mount Sinai getting the construction plans from God (25:8-9), the people grew restless. They convinced Aaron, Moses’ brother, to “make us some gods who can lead us” (32:1). So Aaron collected gold from the people and fashioned it into the shape of a cow (vv.2-4).

The people, stirred up by the sight of the idol, shouted, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (32:4). God was so angered by this He threatened to destroy them, but mercifully relented (vv.9-14).

The book of Exodus closes with a scene of pure grace. The Israelites finish the construction of the tabernacle, and God’s glory comes to fill it. He came to live among His forgiven people as they prepared to journey on (40:33-34).

The greater story within the story of the tabernacle’s construction is this: when we make it difficult for God to dwell with us, grace keeps showing up to rescue us from the brink of disaster—allowing us to start over once more.

—Jeff Olson

365-day plan: Exodus 7:15–9:7

Read Exodus 20:2-4 to see why God took such offence at the golden calf. 
How has the tabernacle story been replayed in your life? What does God’s grace compel you to do?