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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 40

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-38

Chapter 40

And so the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, On the first day of the first month shall thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. And thou shall put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with a veil. And you are to bring in the table, and set it in its place with the candlesticks, and the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, put the hanging on the door of the tabernacle. Thou shall set on the altar the burnt offering before the door [and so forth]. Thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water therein. And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate. And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and thou shalt hallow it and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy ( Exodus 40:1-9 ).

Now the opening was to be toward the east. So that would be back behind us by which you would have entered into the tabernacle, the opening towards the east. You would first of all enter this outer courtyard, which had these curtains hanging all the way around, seventy-five by one hundred and fifty feet courtyard, with these curtains seven and a half feet high. You would enter through this gate area of curtains on the east end.

As you came into the courtyard, the first thing that would be in front of you would be the altar of sacrifice, seven and a half feet square on the top and four and a half feet high. And the fire would be there upon the altar for the roasting of the meat and the offering. Beyond the altar there would be this brass laver, in which the priests would bathe before they entered into this little fifteen-foot high tent enclosure. Now all the way around this fifteen-foot high tent enclosure were these acacia boards that were about twenty-seven inches wide overlaid with gold, fifteen inches high, sort of set in sockets of silver and tongue and groove into each other.

Over the top of these golden covered boards that were held upright by these golden rings and these gold overlaid sticks that went through the rings holding them upright position. The first covering over it as you would go inside, of course, you see the gold walls, and you would see then in the ceiling, the linen, colored embroidered, work of linen, the first covering over the top, the linen covering.

Over the top of that there would be a goats' hair covering. Over the top of that there would be these rams' skins that were dyed red. Over the top of that, the badgers' skins that were sort of waterproof to keep the thing waterproof inside. As you would enter this gold staved little building that was actually forty-five feet long and fifteen feet wide, you would be entering it, also pulling back the curtain entering it from the east.

Over on your left-hand side as you would enter, over on this side, there would be this candleholder with seven candles of which this is sort of a model up here. With the lights flickering in the top of it, the wick in the oil kept burning constantly. Over on your right-hand side there would be this little low table of about three feet by eighteen inches or so on the top, and it was overlaid with gold.

And you would see twelve loaves of bread sitting on this little table to the right. The loaves would be changed every week. Directly in front of you there would be another beautifully embroidered curtain. This curtain having the cherubim embroidered on it and in front of it there would be a little golden altar with four horns on it, the altar of incense, where the priests would come and wave the little incense burners before this altar of incense and behind this curtain.

Then you would enter into a room that was a fifteen-foot cube. Again on the walls, on the sides, and on the back you would see just the gold of the overlaid acacia boards. Above your head again you would see the fancy embroidered work of the fine linen, gold, purple, blue and red with the cherubim and all embroidered in it. You would see in this room a golden box with a golden lid. And upon the golden lid there were these two golden cherubim that were carved there on the lid. Of course you wouldn't see it because only the high priests could see that and only once a year.

And thus, you have an idea of the tabernacle where God met the people, and thus the thing was made according to the plan that God had given. And now the time has come, really, for the anointing of the thing.

And in verse nine,

thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is in it, thou shall hallow it, and the vessels thereof: shall be holy. You shall anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all of those vessels, sanctify the altar: there will be an altar most holy. Thou shalt anoint the laver, that brass laver with its foot, and sanctify it. Thou shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them. [There in that laver, that bathtub that was there.] And thou shall put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And thou shall bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: And thou shall anoint them, as you did anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generation. And thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did. And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up ( Exodus 40:9-17 ).

So the second year they came out of Egypt on the first month, which was the celebration of when they came out because they came out on Passover. They then raised up this tabernacle there in the wilderness.

And Moses reared up the tabernacle, fastened the sockets, set up the boards, and put the bars in it, and reared up the pillars ( Exodus 40:18 ).

Now there were four pillars that were across the front of the golden pillars and also on the inside before the Holy of Holies.

He spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, put the covering of the tent upon it; as the LORD commanded him. He took and put the testimony in the ark ( Exodus 40:19-20 ),

So the testimony would be these two little tables of stone upon which had been etched the Ten Commandments. They were put in this ark.

and he put the mercy seat above it. He brought the ark into the tabernacle, set the veil of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD had commanded him. He put the table in the tent of the congregation, on the side of the tabernacle northward ( Exodus 40:20-22 ),

As I say it was on the east end, it would be over here on the right side, the northward side opposite the veil.

He set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD commanded him. He put the candlestick over against the table, [on the left side,] the south side of the tabernacle. He lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded him. He put the golden altar in the tent before the veil: and there he began to burn the sweet incense on it; as the LORD commanded. He set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle [that is the curtain that covered the front]. And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the LORD had commanded Moses. And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and he put water in it, to wash everything. And Moses and Aaron and his son, washed their hands and their feet at it: and then they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near to the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle [That is that seven and a half-foot curtain hanging in the court gates]. So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud was abiding on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud was not taken up, then they journeyed not until the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, the fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys ( Exodus 40:23-38 ).

So can you imagine what that would be like as you are constantly reminded of the presence of God because the tabernacle was in the midst of the camp and the Israelites were encamped all around about the tabernacle. And any night you could get up and look towards the tabernacle, and you would see this fire of God hovering over that tabernacle. That must have been awesome. You know if you had insomnia, you get up at night and you go to take a walk looking towards the tabernacle you'd see this fire of God's presence.

During the day looking towards the tabernacle you would see this cloud resting there. When the cloud would lift and move, then the people would go and fold the whole thing up and carry it off. And they would follow the cloud until it would stand still. They would set the tabernacle, the cloud would come down and set upon the tabernacle; and thus, they were led through the forty years in the wilderness constantly reminded of the presence of God as they looked at the tabernacle, the place of meeting. But I love that verse that declared "the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle".

Oh you know, the heavens of heavens cannot contain God, but when you experience the presence of God, the glory of God filling the house. My heart longs to experience more of the glory of God in my life. I would like to see us all just take off some day and just spend the day here, just waiting upon God, opening our hearts to Him through worship and praise throughout the day. Just that we might see the glory of the Lord fill His house, tabernacle, the place of meeting. This is the place where we come to meet God. Of course, we meet God everywhere we are, but where as the body collectively; we come to meet God. How glorious it would be to see the glory of the Lord just filling this place. Whew.

Father, with Moses we pray that we might see thy glory. God, we pray that you will captivate our hearts with thyself, that we will become less interested in the glory of the world and more interested in the glory of God. Oh Father, demonstrate thy glory to thy people. Let them experience, Lord, the glory of your presence during this week. Oh, God, draw us away from the world and draw us unto Thyself and bring us unto Thyself, Lord, in a special way. In Jesus' name, we ask it. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 40". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-40.html. 2014.
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