Exodus 40 Lesson

Exodus 40 // Lesson 13: The Completed Sanctuary

This lesson was originally delivered to Knox Reformed Presbyterian Church on 8/8/21.


 

Grace and peace to you all. And I think it probably goes without saying but I’ll say it anyways-thank you all for letting me teach this lesson!


Let’s take moment and look at our memory verses for this week: Exodus 40:34-35, “34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”


As well as our Catechism question for the week (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 26) which reads,

“Q.26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

A: Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself[a], in ruling[b] and defending us[c], and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies [d].

a: Acts 15:14-16

b: Isaiah 32:22

c: Isaiah 32:1-2

d: 1 Corinthians 15:25, Psalm 110


 

Now, on to the lesson. As a personal rule, I don’t like opening a lesson with an application however I think it’s prudent for us to do so before we really dive into the text. And I realize this particular application/discussion question sort of puts us at a razor’s edge so I don’t mean to be irreverent when I say this; but rather merely recognizing the reality of our own sinful nature.


So to further explain, you all will recall last week when Pastor said something to the effect of “we should never be bored with the things of God” and now I realize that I’m mostly speaking to a group of Christians who have mostly been believers for more than I’ve been alive so maybe for some of you super-sanctified saints this will go over your heads but our affections do not always match up with what God’s word is and what God’s word says. The word is not always sweeter than honey to us and we do not love God or neighbor as fully as we ought.


So here’s our first discussion question what do we do with “boring”, or difficult, texts? What counsel would you give to a brother/sister really struggling to grasp God’s word?


In brief, first, we should remind ourselves of the benefits of God’s word-sweeter than honey and satisfying to the soul. Next, we should remind ourselves what God’s word is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for teaching in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And, moreover, that the OT was written “for our instruction that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4). [It is interesting to note that Paul continues in prayer in 15:5 “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another in accord with Christ Jesus…” Perhaps one of the reasons why the American church seems to be having the problems/issues/divisions that it does is because we do not know our OT, and our Bibles more generally, to have such harmony].

And the OT was also written as an example (not merely an example. For the OT is not one big illustration but real events/people/etc. But an example no less) for Paul writes, “Now these things [Numbers 14:2] happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction…” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Thus, the Bible is from God for us and our sanctification and delight.


Next, we should ask ourselves if we are actually reading the text or merely glazing over it with our eyes (or to put it another way: are we reading and mediating or just skimming the text. God has given us hard and boring texts to draw us closer to Him in the mediation of those texts.


And do be sure to remember that hard, and boring, texts should also be humbling texts. That is, they should remind us that we are not God but finite, fallen human beings. And in our humility, we should be led to pray and ask for understanding (wisdom from above). Perhaps ask a brother or sister in Christ to help with your understanding and application of said text; for our salvation/sanctification is a community project.


Hard texts are given to us to show us God’s holiness, wisdom, and goodness/love and our own unholiness, foolishness, and sin. Though it is indeed easy to think about worldly things remember that soft minds make for hard hearts. God gave us difficult texts to create in us hard minds and soft hearts towards His commands and in reading, understanding, meditating on these texts we come to see them as what they are-sweeter than honey and delightful to the soul.

Making sense so far?


 

Do you guys know what else is delightful to the soul? God’s glory and goodness towards us. Please turn to Exodus 33:12 where we’ll briefly look at verses 12-23 before continuing on to Exodus 40.

[Read Exodus 33:12-23]


God knew Moses by name and He knows us by name as well. Like Moses in 32:18 God’s knowing of us should also lead us to prayer, pleading, and politeness (reverence/respect) toward God to know Him all the more.


And what major event in Israel’s history happened in the prior chapter?


The Golden Calf. This is right after the Golden Calf incident and God, in His justice, is angry with His people for their sin/idolatry/adultery and was ready to let them go (as it were) if not for the intercession of Moses.


Indeed, God used Israel’s sin to display His own goodness and withhold His wrath/justice because of the intercession of His mediator.


Who, or what, does that remind you of?


The Mediator Christ Jesus who intercedes for His people to The Father even now. This perfect Intercessor, the Greater Moses, gave us the passage to show us a shadow of what He does for us and in this, we see His eternal goodness towards us, His unfailing love towards us, and His sovereign grace/power towards us and, in one way or another, to all men.


For, we do not know who is to be saved but we know that God will save sinners for Himself. Meaning, that our sin and even the sins of unbelievers that we know and love (with the expectation of blasphemy of the Spirit) will not override, or overpower God’s sovereign love and His perfect, supreme Mediator- Christ Jesus. He does not save us because of our own goodness or works but because of Christ’s goodness and works for us and this is indeed very good and full of glory; just like our short passage here tells us.


Now let’s move to our bigger passage and focus on chapter 40. And I’ll go ahead and read the whole chapter and then look more closely at 40:1-15.

[Read Exodus 40]

40:1-2

The passing of time in scripture is always something that catches me off guard. For us, Exodus only takes a few hours, but for them, it spans their entire lives. Notice here in verses 1 and 2 the “first day of the first month” is about a year after Israel left Egypt.


And what do the Israelites do to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt?


The Israelites celebrate Passover. So now this Tabernacle, this mobile temple/mobile Eden, is set up just in time for the first Passover celebration. So Exodus ends with a new year celebration, a new beginning celebration.


Paul Washer did some sort of interview, or Q and A, where someone asked him a question that I’ve long since forgotten but his answer has stuck with me when he said something like, “you know I thought I’d be a lot farther in my sanctification than I actually am right now” and I’ll bet y’all my next paycheck that we all feel basically the same way as Washer did. And that makes me wonder did the Israelites feel similarly? Did they think “man I thought we’d be in the promised land by now”?


And this is the application I want to draw from this thought: being frustrated/disappointed/downcast over your own sin and seeing how far you still have to go is, in its own right, one of the marks of a true believer because in that is the conviction of sin and knowledge of God’s holiness.


And the second application I want to make from the Israelites directly look at how (to use the words of Proverbs) foolish they were and how blatant they were in the rebellion/sin against God AND look at how gracious God was toward them.

And their God is our God; He is still gracious to His people today and not because we are so good, upright, moral, good looking, etc but because He is God worthy of praise and worship and is honored in our being sanctified for the Psalmist writes, “Help us, O God, our savior, on account of the glory of your name. O Lord, rescue us, and pardon our sins, on account of your name.” (Psalm 78:9 LXX).


And even before the Israelites, God was merciful to Adam and Eve after the Fall; disciplining them but not forsaking them or His purposes for the human race. Likewise, God will not forsake you or forget His purposes/plan for you. (I know false teachers use the “God has a plan for your life” language a lot. Here we use the same words but not at all the same thing. God has a purpose/plan for you (Romans 8, Ephesians 1, 2, Colossians 1) and will not give up on it. For you are not more powerful than God. Or as one Puritan put it, there is more grace in God than there is sin in you”).


Since we’re on the topic of purpose, what is the purpose of your life?


Indeed, “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. What does this look like in our day-to-day lives?


I would say it is to live in light of who God is - how great, awesome, and powerful He is- and all that He has done and is doing in your life and those around you. I mean, He saved you which is just awesome all by itself but is also saving others through your good works/ministry. I would go so far as to say the Christian life is about continual amazement at all that God is and all Christ has done for us. The Christian life is a restful life. We are saved to savor God and serve man. And the rest of our lives we wrestle our hearts, mind, and bodies into believing that God is enough for us.

Any questions so far?

Let’s move on to Exodus 40:9-17

[Read Exodus 40:9-17]


40:12-13

Let’s pause here and review what the Tabernacle is and draw out some practical application from that. Last Sunday we said the Tabernacle is the “place of meeting with God and His people where their sin is dealt with so that both parties can dwell together.” (Slight paraphrase of John).


What does the Tabernacle typify, or represent, for us?


The Tabernacle typifies at least 3 things for us 1) Heaven itself; the dwelling place of God Almighty 2) The Christ for, “the Word became flesh and dwelt (or tabernacled) among us…” (John 1:14 ESV) and 3) The Tabernacle also represents the body of Christ- The Church. All of these are the dwellings of God. For the purposes of our study today we’re just going to focus on Christ and the Church for this lesson.


Let’s first discuss the lessons we can learn from the Tabernacle for the Church.


Why did Aaron and his sons need to be washed with water therein 40:12?


Aaron and his sons were to be the high priests before God as had been ordered of them in Exodus 29:1-28 and fleshed out more fully in Leviticus 8:1-36. He was set apart for God’s service/worship and to obey all that God commanded him to do; disobedience would be met with death. We’ll discuss worship and its seriousness more when we get to 40:16 but for now let’s recognize this: it is through God that he is made clean and redeemed. As we covered last week Aaron led these people into sin and he is to still be forgiven and used by God.


One of the worst (and in its own right the best [for the more sinful we know we are the more we know just how gracious God really is to us]) things about being a Christian is realizing how sinful you really are. And, really, it’s the sins that I’ve committed post-conversation that really get to me; and that really makes me see how gracious God really is to sinners like me and how absolutely decided to His own plan/glory He really is and just how much He must love His own people. If Aaron could commit such horrible idolatry just how great is God’s grace.


We, like Aaron here, are saved by His mercy, through His mediator, for His ministry. Just as Aaron was set aside for God, he had purpose and meaning to his life, so we too are set aside for God. And though our lives may not be as awesome/exciting as Aaron’s was our purpose and importance are still the same. Like Aaron, we were made for ministry (worship of God).


Next, let’s consider the implications of the Tabernacle in its’ relation to Christ. Just as the Tabernacle was a sign, or reminder, of God’s presence so Christ is indeed with His people now. Just as the Tabernacle was carried with God’s people where ever they went (at least till the Temple was built by Soloman) so God in Christ is with us wherever we may go.

Just as the High priests were cleansed before going into the Tabernacle so too are we cleaned/purified when we join in union with Christ. The Israelites had purity through the ritualic cleaning, the possession of God, and the presence of God with His people in and through the Tabernacle. And to the fullest extent, we have these things as well.


{If time allows ask: We know Christ is in the OT but how do we properly find Christ in the OT?

[One more note in regards to this section here in 40:13, “and put on Aaron the holy garments…” here I believe we see, at least in part, a hint of one of the sweeter doctrines of the Christian faith - the Imputed Righteous of Christ. (This particular application I’m not 100% certain on; I may be reading too much into the text; as has been my struggle in teaching the OT in times past. Imputed - meaning “given” and righteousness meaning “right with God”. God is the one who saves and accredits us with the righteousness, or work, of Christ. When we make it to Heaven we will not say “it is because of my works, my faith, or my piety” but rather we will say “it is because of Him that I am here”.}


Now let’s consider 40:16, “This Moses did; according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did.” Moses obeyed God. In one sense Exodus chapter, 40 is the B-side (if you will) to Exodus 32. In chapter 32 the Israelites did whatever their sinful hearts desired; in chapter 40 they do only what God desires. They did as they wanted in chapter 32 with disastrous results. Mark that, sin always gives limited, (if any) pleasure and much pain and misery.


In the OT, God was very concerned that His people worship Him exactly how He told them to. Is the same true in the NT? And can you think of any scriptures to support your argument?


Romans 12 is perhaps the most obvious. The bottom line to me asking this question is this: we are to do bible things bible ways. We do godly things in godly ways. This is generally referred to as the regulative principle of worship IE we are regulated/governed by God’s word. He is the object of our worship and affections and thus He is the one to govern His own worship for which He is rightly jealous. The circumstances of our worship may change (meeting outside rather than inside, or using a projector rather than a hymnal, the order or time of worship, etc) but the elements shouldn’t be added to, nor taken away.


While not directly related to our text today I do want to give a quick word of encouragement on worship, and singing in particular, as an apologetic and as edification for The Church.


On worship as an apologetic: other religions will chant and hum but Christianity is the only one that sings, and moreover sings joyfully. Singing is the overflow of our affections toward God and in singing, we proclaim to the world that God is 1) worthy of worship 2) delightful to worship and live towards.


On worship as edification for The Church: In singing, we are first and foremost singing to God as well as each other. For it is easy to forget the Gospel and slip into works-righteousness so not only do we give honor to God in singing we are also preaching/presenting the Gospel, or reminding each other of the goodness of God, to each other in worship.


And lastly, sing to build yourself up in the faith as well; our affections do not always line up with the reality of redemption; singing is often one of the best solutions to a sad, or snared soul. Sing in spite of your own deceitful heart until it is in line with the reality of your glorious redemption. Sing for God, each other, and yourself.

Any questions before I move on?


And finally, we come to our last section of the text in 40:34-38. Perhaps one of the main struggles a lot of Christians have is that they may think/feel that the OT simply isn’t relevant to their life. But let’s zoom out a bit and gain a greater appreciation of the big picture so that we would love the “little” details in God’s story of redemptive.


“God was present in Eden yet withdrew His presence when mankind fell. Ever since then, He has been working to restore His presence (an impossible task if left to us sinners). But God Himself proved a tabernacle, and later a temple, and then His own Son. In each case, He was working toward the restoration and expansion of Eden, bringing the light (and comfort) of His presence into this dark world. And now we, Christians, all are the very temple of God, in which He dwells (by His Spirit, through His Son). We have God and He is with us. He is, by virtue of [our] union with Christ and indwelling Spirit in you [and thus] we are never alone [nor forsaken]. We have an ever-present Friend.” (ESV Devotional Psalmter Ps. 132). But there is a problem, Moses is a sinner and is unable to enter into the Tabernacle proper (IE the Most Holy Place) after the glory cloud descended in 40:35.


No mere man could enter into God’s presence; we are wicked and sinful and God is holy (wholly) good. The answer to our cosmic treason against God is the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus The King of Kings. Much in the same way that the glory cloud descended as God’s approval of Moses’ obedience so the resurrection and ascension of Christ are God’s seal of approval of the work of Christ. And, as our Catechism question taught us, Christ now rules as King subduing and defending us while restraining and conquering all of His and our enemies.


Not only do our passages here point us to Christ and show us what He accomplished on our behalf but I also believe that there is a taste, a foreshadow of the kingdom to come as well. You’ll notice in this week’s chapters (33-40) that there is a repeated pattern of “the Lord said...Moses did as the Lord commanded”.


Meaning that all had to be just right in order for God to return to His people. In this, I believe we can have confidence and assurance that all will be just right at the end of days, all wrongs are made right, and sin has (either through just judgment or free grace) been dealt with and the will of God is done on Earth as it is in Heaven.


So, to close, I’ll say this: the end of Exodus shows us God actively seeking and saving His people for Himself and His abiding presence with Him as seen in the Tabernacle story arc which foreshadows Christ’s active seeking and saving His people through His perfect work in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Let us continue in our Lord’s day worship knowing and remembering that our exodus/our earthly pilgrimage is with God and towards God.

Question, comments, or concerns.

[Prayer].



 

BBT Stuff:

Now, to address my BBT crew, first and foremost thank you for your continued patience with me in regards to our study. I apologize that our break took way longer than originally expected. The good news is that I now have a full-time job; the bad news is for the next 2-3 weeks I will have to continue to put in anywhere from 45-60 hours a week for it. But we should be going back to just 40 hours a week once this rather crazy time period is over. Thus, Phase 3 has begun and our next study, Lord willing, will be in Psalm 3 and will be posted on August 27th. From there we should be able to continue with our bi-weekly schedule as normal. A full schedule for the rest of the year will be posted below.

Now let’s consider how I think we can improve a bit on our study/community. We have, in the past, lamented that there is not a lot of chatter in the group chat. There are a couple of reasons for this 1) most of us are introverts and are quite busy and I have not been good about starting conversations and posting prayer requests and such in the chat and 2) Groupme sucks. It’s ugly and barely functions. Thus, I am requesting that we all download Telegram Messenger because 1) it functions beautifully 2) it’s far more user-friendly than Groupme 3) I’ve found that it is much more conducive for conversation than any other platform I’ve come across, and 4) it is an encrypted messenger service [not that I think the Feds have an eye on our little group or anything. But it is just nice to know that it’s secure]. So please download that as soon as you are able and we will begin to converse on there from now on.

Now that life has (somewhat) calmed down I do think I should have more time to write for us. And I hope to start writing a lot more on the blog and not just BBT studies. So feel free to read through any future posts and interact with them at your leisure (I plan the first “micro-blog” will be a revisit on 2 Peter 3:17 entitled Growing in Grace).

One more thing before I write out our schedule and brief discussion questions: I love you all and am quite grateful for this group and our studies; they’re a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed it very much. Please do send me a couple of times where I could potentially meet you (ideally we’d all be able to hang out but I know that may not be realistic so just meeting you all individually for a little dinner or something will do the trick just fine for now). I love you all. Now without further ado here are our questions and schedule for Phase 3:

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever studied the Tabernacle before? What other application for the Christian life can you draw from Exodus 40?

  2. I mentioned that the Christian life is a restful life. Do you find yourself resting in your own works/righteousness rather than God’s? If so, how do we get our hearts to rest in God and not our own good deeds?

Schedule:

Exodus 40 8/8

Psalm 3 8/27

Creation 9/10

Obadiah 9/24

Psalm 4 10/8

Colossians 1 10/22 (I’ll explain why we’re going to study Colossians more fully another time)

Colossians 2 11/5

Colossians 3 11/19

Colossians 4 12/3

Psalm 5 12/17

At the conclusion of Psalm 5, we’ll do some more planning for 2022/Phase 4 but for now, I think this will suffice. I look forward to our continued studies in the word. God bless you all!


 

Resources:

2 Timothy 3:16-17. Romans 15:4. 1 Cor. 10:11.

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/table-showbread/

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/god-enters-tabernacle/

https://www.gty.org/library/bible-introductions/MSB02/exodus

https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Exd/Exd_40.cfm

https://reformedstandards.com/westminster/wsc.html


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