Exodus 38-40: Glory!
February 15, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Exodus 38-40; Psalm 37:23-40; Matthew 16:13-28; Acts 23:1-11
At first glance these chapters seem yet more instructions, of a rather arcane kind, about how to construct the tabernacle and make priestly garments, instructions that, while perhaps of antiquarian interest, have no real pertinence spiritually today. However, there is a repeated refrain throughout these chapters, and a described result as a consequence at the end of these chapters, that brings out the intended meaning and lesson of these words.
The repeated refrain, often in these precise words, if not mild variations of the kind, is frequent enough—multiple times—to be sure that the narrator is intending to draw our attention. “As the LORD had commanded Moses,” so they did. Each activity, precise detail: “as the LORD had commanded Moses.” Here is a people who are obeying, to the letter, with precision and faithfulness, exactly what God had told Moses for them to do.
And at the end of these descriptions, what is the result of such obedience? Glory. “The glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (40:34). This does not mean that we are saved by our works, not at all. Remember the overarching motif of Exodus: this is a rescued people, freed from slavery in Egypt by the sovereign hand of God. They have been rescued by grace, and now as rescued people they are given instructions to obey. So this part of Exodus is not teaching works righteousness at all.
What it is teaching is that real faith results in works, and such obedience, an obedience that is grounded in faith alone and comes out of faith alone as its necessary fruit, is the path towards glory and joy and peace with God. There is no one so unhappy as a backsliding Christian. They feel miserable because they are not living up to who they are meant to be. But for the person who has been redeemed, who is then, as Paul put it, enabled to begin to fulfill the works of the law (Romans 8:4), who obeys Christ, who does not give in to the lie of “lawlessness,” that person is in the “sweet spot” of communion with God. And there, whatever else may befall, is glory through our gracious relationship with God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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