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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 40

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-38

REFLECTIONS. On the first day of the first month of Abib, the tabernacle was reared. How time steals away! One year is gone; and what an eventful year to Israel, but now crowned with glory and with joy. Fifty days had elapsed before the promulgation of the law. Forty days expired while Moses was on the mount. Thirty four were spent in chastising and reforming Israel concerning the revolt of the golden calf. Forty days more were spent in receiving the second tables of the law, for the time of our backsliding is worse than lost in the sight of God. And perhaps a third forty were spent on the same mount. Be that as it may, with the intervening space of time, they had arrived at the seventh day of the tenth month. Now on the first day of the new year of Israel’s emancipation, when the spring displayed the beauties of nature, they erected the tabernacle to display the glory of religion.

With what reverence and joy would Israel survey the majestic, beautiful, and mysterious pavilion of the Lord. Here was the mercy-seat, or throne of the Shechinah, surrounded with cherubims: and the ark of his strength before him, to show that he is ever mindful of his promises. Here was the veil of blue, separating the holy of holies, from the holy place in the sanctuary, adumbrating that a future state, and the invisible glory are veiled from the eyes of men. Here was the table with twelve loaves, importing that Israel might every morning find food in the house of God. Near it stood the golden altar of incense, to show how the devotion of the good ever ascends as a cloud before God, and grateful in his sight. The candlestick, with its seven lamps, was always burning, to signify that the light and glory of God are ever shining by his word and Spirit upon his worshippers. In the approach to this most sacred mansion stood the great brazen altar of burnt-offering. Here the offender might leave his victim, confess his sin, and be sprinkled with the atoning blood: then purged in his conscience, he might wash in the laver, and enter the courts of the Lord. And oh, is this the road, the awful road to God. Is there no way of approaching the Just and Holy One but by death, and by blood. How awful then is the nature, and how dreadful are the consequences of sin. But how insufficient must the death of a sheep be for the atonement of my great and manifold sins. Surely all this grandeur is but a shadow of the real atonement, and of the great Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Oh it is on Calvary, and only on Calvary, that the true atonement is made. It is the second Adam, the spotless Lamb dying in union with the Godhead, so close as to constitute the divine and human nature of Christ but one person, which makes atonement for the sin of the soul. It is from the cross, as from the high altar, the blood flows which washes away the guilt of the nations. There, oh God, let me purge my conscience: there let me wash my hands, my heart in innocency, and so compass thine altar. There let me commence my death unto sin, till iniquity all expire; there let me begin to live unto righteousness, and henceforth serve thee in newness of life.

No sooner had Israel, with this great labour and freewill-offering prepared the sanctuary of the Lord, and invited his descent with the fervent devotion of their hearts, than the Lord filled the tabernacle with glory and a cloud, and made it the place of his rest and joy. And delighting to dwell among them, he became their guide and defence in the desert land. So if the temple of my soul be prepared by repentance, and by the expectation of his presence, he will delight to dwell in my heart for ever.

This sacred book began with the affliction of Israel, and with the birth of Moses, and now it closes with a full view of their emancipation, with the glory of their sanctuary, with a sight of the God of Abraham dwelling with his people for ever. May all the wonders of providence and grace, exhibited for our redemption, come in like manner to this happy close.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Exodus 40". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/exodus-40.html. 1835.
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