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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 40

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 1-38

Exodus 40:1-38

Set up the Tabernacle.

The primary and universal obligation to the worship of Jehovah; the proper means to its right performance, with their evidences and fruits

. What is implied in the injunction in the text?

1. The worship of Jehovah, at whose command the Tabernacle was erected.

2. The setting up of the Tabernacle, at God’s command, implied that He required a specific worship; and the doing this at the seasons expressed in the text, that He called for especial homage at particular times, and in an express manner; and a compliance with the direction was an evidence of obedience to the will of Jehovah.

3. But further, this setting up of the Tabernacle at God’s command implied His sovereign rule and authority among the Jews.

4. Again, as the setting up of the Tabernacle at God’s command implied His sovereignty, so a compliance with the injunction or direction implied a disposition to serve Him.

How it may be carried into effect by us.

1. It may be done by our punctual and devout attendance on Divine worship.

2. If we would carry the injunction in the text into effect suitably, we must duly observe and keep all the ordinances of God’s house.

3. I observe that the spirit of the commandment before us will be carried into effect in a more especial manner by us if we make Christ the Alpha and Omega--the beginning and the ending of all our religious worship--the great object of faith and adoration in all our ceremonial observances.

4. Lastly, that your services may be suitable, acceptable, and efficient, seek the teaching and direction of the Holy Spirit.

The evidences which will prove that it has been done.

1. In the first place, if you have set up your Tabernacle; if you are resolved that, whatever others do, as for you and your household ye will serve the Lord; and if you are enabled to approach Him in a suitable disposition, and by a right faith; then you will enjoy in your own souls all the blessings of His house, and the blessedness of those whom He causes to come near unto Him.

2. If you have set up your Tabernacle, and are led by the Spirit to serve God with your spirit, then you will bring forth the fruits of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:9; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 4:11).

3. If we have set up our Tabernacle, and serve God in His Son, are led by His Spirit, and bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, then we shall be prepared for the rewards of the righteous, and to stand before the Son of man “at His appearing and His kingdom.”


1. As the command for the erection of the Tabernacle is given us by God, and every direction respecting it comes from Him, what presumption is it in any man to go about the formation of a different Tabernacle after his own fancy!

2. As the setting up of the Tabernacle was to be done forthwith at God’s commandment, and for the whole congregation, what madness for any to think of postponing the duty to a more convenient season!

3. As the Tabernacle is erected for God’s service, was to be resorted to at stated times, and attendance upon it is designed for our greatest good--as a Bethel, a house of mercy, a Bethesda, from which we may derive healing, how should we prize seasons, and means, and opportunities, of attending it! (J. Allport.)

The setting up of the Tabernacle on New Year’s Day

Out of materials specially provided by Him who holds in His hands the springs of action in men, and by artizans inspired by an extraordinary skill, and according to the pattern given to Moses, the Tabernacle was prepared, every part made ready and stored up for the day of erection. But God named that day Himself, and Moses waited for it.

And now I would have you notice the special day which God selected. It was the first day of the first month--that is, New Year’s Day; and the reason of this choice is of course to be looked for in a benevolent regard to the religious good of the Jewish people. It would fix a suitable season for a commemorative festival of the great blessing vouchsafed to Israel by a Tabernacle for the Divine presence among them--a festival, be it remarked, that was not forgotten by them in after times, for we read that, in the revival of religion under Hezekiah, it was on the first day of the first month that the House of God was sanctified for the pious and pure worship of the Lord. Moreover, this selection would, I suppose, make New Year’s Day, in the Jewish calendar, a day of religious observance. Consider, first, that the Christian’s body and the Christian’s spirit are together the Tabernacle of God. He is “an habitation of God through the Spirit.” “Know ye not,” saith the apostle to the Corinthian Christians, “that ye are the temples of the Holy Ghost?” “He that dwelleth in love,” writes John, “dwelleth in God, and God in him.” And wherever this indwelling of God is, there and there only is there a Christian man or a Christian woman; wherever there is this indwelling of God, there and there only is the true antitype of the beautiful Tabernacle which was set up on the first day of the first month in the Jewish calendar. This is the true Tabernacle, too, in which God rests for ever, because He delights therein. Now mark: such a wonderful Tabernacle like that which was put up by Moses on the first day of the first month can only be made of materials which God has selected, and which God has gathered together for that work; for the light and the elements and the features and graces of the Christian character are His gift, such as holy trust, humble desire, love, meekness, gratefulness, praise, prayer, and joy in Christ. And again, those materials must be wrought up and combined according to the pattern which has been shown to us in the mount. Marvellous pattern! the living model of the character of Jesus, the true Tabernacle of the Father.

Israel’s obedience is exemplary to those who are already Christian men. There is some new work now for God to be done, or some old work for God to be done in a new spirit. For instance, responsibility of time to be more felt, and its management and use arranged with an increased Christian conscientiousness. The dedication of self to the Saviour has to be renewed, and everywhere and always remembered. Does not our work for Him who died for us want to be done secretly in the heart, openly in the family, and in the church, and in the world, with a new love, a new spirit, a new resoluteness, and a new will? Ah! a new year summons a Christian in a new manner of spirit unto obedience to his Divine Master. Let us, on such an occasion, listen to our Father’s voice, and on the first day of the first month set up our Tabernacle; and then be assured that through all the journeyings of the year, as upon the Tabernacle of Israel, shall the tokens of the Divine presence rest upon us.

For notice, in the next place, that on the first day of the first month, immediately the Tabernacle was set, the cloud of the Lord was upon it by day, and the fire of the Lord was upon it by night, and both continued to rest there through the journeyings of the people. Oh! it must have been a marvellous phenomenon, that under which the Almighty God thus certified His protection and guidance to the people. And it was a necessary phenomenon, too, under their novel circumstances. The desert was pathless, and they had no guide, and so by this they were conducted in their journeyings. It was adapted, too, to meet their wants: it was “the pillar of cloud by day” to screen them from the fierce sun, and it was “the pillar of fire by night“ to light up the encampment and warm the chill air. And is not Christian life a pilgrimage? Are we not strangers upon earth, seeking a better, a heavenly Temple? Could we reach it without a Divine Guide? And though we have not the same sensible proofs of God’s presence which were granted to Israel, is it not most assuredly with us just as it was with them? (C. P. Eyre, M. A.)

Tabernacle foreshadowings

The Tabernacle, as a whole, is a finger-post directing me to that mystic Person in whom “God in very deed dwelt with man upon the earth.” Its white-robed priest is the shadow of Him who was “holy, harmless, undefiled,” and whom I recognize as my true High Priest. Its bleeding lamb laid upon the altar is the likeness of that Lamb of God by whose precious blood I have been redeemed from all iniquity; its innermost sanctuary is the type of that heaven into which He has entered to make atonement for my sin; and its outer apartment is the analogue of the present world, in which we are to serve Him with the incense of our devotions, the light of our characters, and the fruit of our lives. The incarnation in the person of Christ, the mediation and expiation of His priestly work, and the consequent obligation under which His redeemed people lie to honour Him with unceasing service and shining holiness--or, putting it all into four words, incarnation, mediation, expiation, consecration--these are the things of which the Tabernacle, with its furniture, services, and attendants, were the special types; and as thus we condense its teachings into their essence, we come to a larger and more comprehensive view of the doctrines of the gospel itself, and discover that we have been studying the same truths, only under a different form. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Exodus 40". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/exodus-40.html. 1905-1909. New York.
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