The closing chapter of Exodus falls into three sections. First,
verses 1-15 which give the instructions delivered to Moses by the Lord,
as to the erection of the tabernacle and its contents and the
installing of the priests. Second, verses 16-33, the record of the
careful obedience of Moses, so that everything was carried out in
accordance with the divine instructions.
Verse 33 ends with
the words, "So Moses finished the work." This carries our minds on to
Hebrews 3: 5 where we are reminded that "Moses verily was faithful in
all His [God's] house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things
which were to be spoken after." The whole tabernacle system was a
testimony in type and picture of the realities which have been
established in Christ and in His sacrificial work; hence the
faithfulness of Moses in carrying out everything according to God's
word, while the work was in progress, and then finishing the work
without any omissions, was of prime importance.
But we must
again remind our readers that we now have the great realities, which
were typified, fully revealed in the New Testament, and they control
our understanding of the types. We must not fall into the mistake of
attempting to conform New Testament realities to Old Testament shadows.
If this be attempted we easily travel out of the realm of Divine truth
into the region of human imagination.
The third section,
verses 34-38, records how the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle,
when all was finished, and what the results of that filling were. The
first result of that filling was that man was wholly excluded. Even the
faithful Moses was unable to enter where the glory of Jehovah abode.
Let us contrast this scene with what the Apostle Paul could record as
to himself in 2 Corinthians 12: 1-5. In that passage he speaks of
himself as, "a man in Christ." A more true servant of God than Moses
never lived, yet his service was carried out some fifteen centuries
before Christ appeared, and accomplished the work which made it
possible for anyone to be spoken of as a man in Christ. What we see, as
we close the book of Exodus, is that no man of Adam's race, even the
finest specimen thereof, has any standing in the presence of the glory
of God. That great verse, Romans 3: 23, is illustrated here.
But we also see that, though man cannot stand before the glory, he may
yet have from it all the guidance that he needs. Israel was in the
trackless wilderness, and left to themselves they would have aimlessly
wandered about. As it was, their wanderings were controlled. They moved
or rested as the cloud of glory indicated, and so all was ordered for
their instruction and discipline.