Finally, at long last, the Tabernacle is fully complete and the people can assemble its various parts and pieces in working order. God speaks to Moses and commands that all of the pieces of the tabernacle be put together. Here are the steps that are taken to finally establish the tabernacle:
- Put up the tent walls
- Put in the ark of the covenant and partition it with the veil
- Bring in and set up the table
- Bring in the lamp and light it
- Set up the altar for incense
- Set up the altar for burnt offerings
- Set up the laver and fill it with water
- Set up the court and the court gate
- Anoint the tabernacle and its utensils
- Consecrate the altar and the laver
- Anoint Aaron and his sons, as high priest and priests
Moses competed all of these activities and once He did, God made good on His promise to continue to guide the people and also showed His approval of the tabernacle as it says in verse 34: “Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
The cloud of the Lord covered the tabernacle by day and the fire of the Lord was over it by night. This was God’s message and assurance to the people that He would ever be with them. His protection was not just theoretical; it was real, practiced, and visible. While the cloud was over top of the tabernacle, Moses could not enter and the people would not travel. Such was the guidance from God.
In this closing chapter of Exodus, we have not an ending but a beginning. It is the beginning of God’s people’s journey to the promised land. They have failed Him already and their lack of faith will cause them to fail God many times over as they travel. But let this be a humble reminder to each of us. If we feel the desire to criticize them for their weaknesses and proclivity towards fickle faith, may we all be reminded of the times we turned our back on the Lord in favor for the hollow and worthless things of this world.