A year after the exodus from Egypt, “all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished… Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them.” Doesn’t that remind you of God? How He is always assessing His creation? Remember in the beginning of the story, after God created, He would assess His creation and say “it was good.” And after God created man, He “saw everything that He has made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). But ten generations after Adam, the first man created, God looked upon His creation again and had a completely different assessment – “So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:12). Then the Lord sent a flood to destroy everything except Noah and his wife, his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives, two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal who entered the ark. The Lord provided a way for salvation. However, only eight people were saved by grace through their faith in God. The flood wiped out unrepentant sinners, but it did not wipe out sin. And since the Lord still desires to be with His people, He has to provide a way for a Holy God to dwell amongst sinful people.
At this point in the story, priests will shed animal blood to atone for the sins of the people, as the Lord demonstrated with Adam and Eve in the garden after the fall, and the Lord will dwell among His people in the portable tabernacle. Today the glory of the Lord fills the tabernacle – “For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” The Lord guides His people through the raising and lowering of a cloud over the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud is taken up, the children of Israel journey. “Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey. At the command of the Lord they remained encamped, and at the command of the Lord they journeyed; they kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by the hand of Moses.”
The Lord is teaching His people to trust and obey Him while He is working His plan of providing the Ultimate Way through Jesus Christ. The tabernacle is an earthly model of heaven and a foreshadowing of Christ to come to fulfill the plan of salvation. Later in the story, the author of Hebrews is going to explain that after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven – “We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:1-6).
Tomorrow the tribes of Israel make offerings to the Lord. Keep reading. (Exodus 39:32-40:38, Numbers 9:15-23)