Exodus 40 and What Remains

September 10, 2018

As Exodus draws to a close, we see the tabernacle of God finally pitched in the wilderness and indwelt by the presence of God. So much of his glory enters into the tabernacle Moses himself cannot bear to remain inside. All of the build up of instruction and assignment of labor culminates here in its accomplishment. God Almighty proves himself almighty indeed. Prior to Moses, God never did relate to anyone in quite the way he did with Moses. Even so, when God’s glory enters the tabernacle, it reveals all in God’s creation as unequal to him in power and might. Moses’s uniquely intimate relationship does not change the nature of God. He remained and remains above all else, even those whom he loves.


Reaching the book’s final chapter, how would you summarize Exodus?


I think the book broadly follows the flow below:


-God hears his people


-God raises up Moses to save his people


-God defeats his people’s enemy


-God overcomes his people’s sin


-God reveals himself specially


-God makes a way for his people to know him


God proves the subject of Exodus and no one else. We might refer to Exodus as one of the “Books of Moses,” but God drives the narrative. He drives the narrative because he drives history. Moses mediates, but God alone moves the events to happen as he sees fit. Even the captivity of the children of Israel happened according to his guidance (Genesis 15:12-16). God did not provide Abraham with specifics, but he did reveal his plan. 


As the playwright, producer, and director of the drama of Exodus, not one thing at any time ever prevented God from receiving worship. Neither the false god pharaoh, nor the golden statue wrought by Aaron could diminish his glory. Neither of these external or internal threats prevented his promise from coming to fruition. 


Yet, if we reflect and express ourselves honestly, we might find at the end of the book, we have a problem or two. 


First, who does Moses dress as high priest at the end of the book? Aaron still receives the vestments after he cows to the pressure to forge and idol and then leads the people in the breaking of the covenant. Imagine finding your pastor teaching the Qu’ran to his Sunday school class or leading a small group in following the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path of Buddhism. I suspect you demand he find a new place of employment! Yet, Aaron will represent the people in the Most Holy Place. For all the work of the skilled craftsmen (enabled by the Spirit of God), once the people set up the tabernacle, they never saw their handiwork ever again. Aaron, the immediate failure of a high priest, however, would. So we leave Exodus with our toes curled somewhat. How would we react were we among the tribes of Jacob?


Second, God clearly represents himself as completely holy and above all else. His standards prove impossibly high. What will these people do? How can they measure up? Given Exodus 15 contains both the victory song celebrating the defeat of Egypt and the first instance of wilderness complaint against Moses, it would seem they cannot. 


The failure of Aaron and the impossibility of the people’s faithfulness to the covenant indicate the remaining need which God meets only in the person of Christ. Christ as high priest never failed nor does he fail. He maintained perfect obedience to the stipulations of the covenant. As high priest he made the perfect offering for his people and flawlessly mediates between them and their God. As the impeccably obedient one, he lived a life vicariously for his people—he did so to gift all the repentant believing with his own righteousness. 


Christ meets the needs remaining at the end of Exodus


Next week, we will embark on a journey through Hebrews. Hebrews will explain these things in detail. Hebrews will point us to the glories of the new covenant and the superiority of Christ Jesus to all other things, whether old covenant realities and heroes or even other supernatural entities. Hebrews will show the glory of God in Christ brought out of heaven on behalf of God’s people in order for them to continue to cling to him for salvation come what may. 


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