“Thus did Moses: according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he.” (Exodus 40:16)
As we read through the final five chapters of Exodus, we notice something very familiar about all of the details recorded. The reason being is that we have just read the instructions for the building of the Tabernacle back in Chapters 25-30. Now we are reading the actual fulfillment of those instructions.
For the purposes of this website, it seems unnecessary to go back through the minutiae of the specifications for the Tabernacle again since I wrote at great length back in the earlier chapters regarding the significance contained within the details. And even the most meticulous of commentaries often do little more at this point in the narrative than refresh the readers’ memory with a virtual repetition of earlier observations. Nevertheless, perhaps a few factors should be considered in these closing chapters.
One frequently repeated phrase, in one form or another, that we see sprinkled throughout the end of Exodus is the statement that Moses and the Hebrews were doing “Just as the Lord had commanded.” Although the modern reader can easily become bogged down in the very specific particulars of the properties related to the Tabernacle, this simple little phrase reminds us again and again of why all of these details were given and why the people were carrying them out so attentively.
First, we are reminded of James’ admonition:
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22 KJV)
What if the Hebrews had completely disregarded the instructions of the Lord by never constructing the Tabernacle at all? Would they have not been mere hearers of the Word and not doers? Would simply listening to God’s Word and even agreeing with it have been enough? What if they had received the instructions for the Tabernacle and had immediately set out to form a committee and schedule meetings and conferences and started planning how they were going to add this to their agenda? Their intentions would have never made a suitable substitution for action. So often our own response to God’s Word is to plan, strategize, discuss, debate, meet, and organize to the point where we never get our “plans” off the ground. Yet if we were asked we would insist that we were obeying God even though we had nothing to actually show for all of our efforts.
Or suppose that the Book of Exodus concluded with the 35th chapter? If we were given no information about the actual construction of the Tabernacle we could, of course, assume that the Hebrews fulfilled the commands of the Lord exactly. After all, we know from subsequent books of the Bible that the Tabernacle did, in fact, come to exist. But such assumptions are never prudent when it comes to obeying the Word of God. When we ourselves begin to assume that we are in the will of God and are obeying Him faithfully, is it not easy to begin to overlook those seemingly minor details and, before long, discover that our footsteps have been slowly leading us away from the Lord rather than toward Him?
It is not enough to obey God in most of the areas of our lives, we are to obey Him in all the areas of our lives. Consider the incident in Moses’ own walk where he was met with anger by the Lord as he was travelling because he had failed to circumcise his own son (Exodus 4:24-26). Immediately before this we see that Moses was seemingly in the will of God in every way, we never would have guessed that he had been living in disobedience to the commandment given to every Israelite through Abraham. We assumed that he was in complete obedience to God from the Burning Bush up to this point. Yet he had overlooked one simple but crucial detail in God’s commandments.
Finally, there is the importance of the fact that the Hebrews were following the instructions that the Lord had given. The Egyptians had constructed wondrous pyramids for the glory of their Pharaohs according to blueprints composed by the prideful mind of man. The Canaanites fashioned idols of wood, stone, and precious metals in their own image for the gratification of their own sinful desires. But the Hebrews built the Tabernacle according to God’s design and for the purposes of His glory. As we read again about the materials, the properties, the measurements, and the handiwork that went into the Tabernacle’s construction, we are reminded that not one single detail originated in the vanity or conceit of man, but every single aspect was completed: “Just as the Lord had commanded…”
I want to close this post by saying thank you to everyone who joined me on this journey through the Book of Exodus. Thanks to all of you who remember me and this website in your prayers, I am truly grateful. Next time, Lord willing, I intend to return to the New Testament with a study in the Gospel of Mark.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?”]