Here at the penultimate chapter of Exodus we have what is basically the completion of the construction of the tabernacle and its primary components, especially the priestly garments. Exodus 40 finishes up some details, but with this chapter, all of the heavy lifting is completed.
Themes that we can learn from this chapter do not differ greatly from themes of the previous chapters:
- The dedication of God’s people to exactly follow His instructions
- The temple represents God’s presence among the people in the Old Testament
- Christ represents God’s presence among the people in the New Testament
The importance of the priestly garments is obvious in this chapter. The first thirty-one verses detail out the making of the ephod, the breastplate, and the other garments with all of their detail of colored threads, stones, and chains. There was so much woven work for Aaron and his sons, and the importance of the details of incorporating the tribes, sanctification, and representation each play their part to assemble the clothes of this high holy priest.
Putting together the tabernacle and assembling all of its various parts, each with their own element of meaning, must have been very rewarding for everyone involved. In previous chapters, we have discussed how the tabernacle can be interpreted for today in New Testament times to signify the modern church or Christ. In this chapter, though, as we witness the tabernacle being assembled with all its different parts and pieces, each playing a different role, it is hard not to be reminded of the modern church. The modern kingdom of God, the final dispensation here on earth is His church, the bride of Christ. As we endeavor to serve and worship God following New Testament examples and commandments, our assemblage is not unlike that of the temple. Indeed, God did purpose each one of us to have a job in the kingdom:
“for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:12-16
For Moses and the people, this was all about pleasing the Almighty God. God, who saved them from slavery and guided them to safety. God, who killed or blessed in the blink of an eye and did so with finality. The people of Israel still have a very long way to go towards knowing their God. They will cling to and deny Him over and over again as the years come.
But we are blessed in the full knowledge of God. We have the revelation of Jesus Christ and the blessing of the knowledge of salvation through Him. The children of Israel worshipped God, who seemed out of reach yet there were signs of Him all around. For us, we miss the visible signs of God, but we live blessed with the full knowledge of the plan of our God to save us.