Read: Exodus 33-40
Reflect: 7 Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. 8 And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. 9 As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
This passage in Exodus 33 is really interesting to me for several reasons. First, Moses and God spoke face to face as one speaks to a friend. God created us for relationship and Moses clearly had a great one with God. Second, Joshua was a witness to all that was being said. He was able to sit in the tent. No wonder he had such a deep faith! Third, Moses would go communicate to everyone else what God had said. I’m so thankful that I can have a relationship with God like Moses did instead of having to wait for someone to communicate with God me! Lastly, I think this is interesting because this is the second writing of the tablets and Moses and God have adjusted in order to engage the Israelites. This process has now started where they can see it, and the ritual of worship at the presence of the cloud (God’s glory) engages them in the new laws to be written. They receive things in bit size pieces.
15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” 17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” 18 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.”
Moses asked God to stay present with the people and God said “because I am pleased with you and know you by name I will what you ask” Moses was known by name because he was a follower of God. Still, even in the answer to this request from Moses God did things in a way that protected him.
Exodus 40:33-38 33 Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work. 34 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 on 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 Israelites during all their travels.
A few things stick out here. The Israelites have completed the work commanded, but Moses was the one who finished things. There was still separation. When the cloud was in the tent there was no space for Moses.
Record: The second writing of the laws. How do you view the setting up of the tent? Was it grace?
Why did God have the Israelites go through all the building and specifications?
What do you think of Moses completing the work?
Review: This time in the wilderness was set aside for the Israelites to prepare for their new home. They weren’t fully aware of what would happen when they moved forward, but preparations and rituals created in this time re-established the Lord for all he is. His Glory was present and would draw closer. A temple worthy of the Glory of God resting was created.
In present days, the temple the Holy Spirit enters is our heart. I think this symbolism is interesting when we consider that we need to prepare a place worthy of God’s presence to stay close.
The Lord was always with the Israelites, just as he is always with us. But when we draw near to him, he draws near to us. I think that we are offered a visual of all that can encompass here in Exodus.