Jan. 31 Reading: Exodus 39-40 Commentary

Below is our Exodus 39-40 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.

Key Verse(s):

“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Ex. 40:34)

Exodus 39 – Final Tabernacle Preparations

In addition to the construction of the artifacts and physical building, Bezalel (the project manager – see Ex. 31:1-5) and the artisans made Aaron’s priestly garments. As instructed in Exodus 28, these garments included an ephod, a breastplate, a robe and tunics (see Exodus 28 Commentary for more about Aaron’s priestly garments).

Additionally, they made a gold plate that was attached to the turban of the high priest. On the plate were written the words “Holiness to the Lord” (v. 30).

The workers then brought all the items to Moses when they were finished. The wording of Ex. 39:42 suggests that Moses conducted one final inspection to ensure it met the Lord’s specifications. When he was confident that it had done so, he blessed the people for the work they had accomplished (v. 43).

Exodus 40 – God Inhabits the Tabernacle

It’s now time to take all the furnishings and construct the tabernacle. God directed Moses to do so on the “first day of the first month” (v. 1). This first month was the month of Abib (also called Nisan) which God had instituted as such when the Hebrews left Egypt after the Passover (see Exodus 12). The tabernacle was completed 9 months after the people arrived at Mt. Sinai and two weeks before the second celebration of Passover (which occurred on the 14th of the month – Ex. 12:6).

Tabernacle Schematic

Once Moses placed all the tabernacle items in their proper location, God instructed Moses to consecrate the entire facility. The structure and the items located therein were to be hallowed (holy) and separated unto the Lord (v. 9).

Finally, came the anointing of Aaron and and his sons who would serve as priests (v. 12-15).

Verses 17-33 show Moses methodically following all the Lord’s instructions. The passage is filled with action verbs that help the reader visualize Moses proceeding deliberately step-by-step. In all, the New King James Version of the Bible describes that Moses raised, fastened, set, put, spread, took, inserted, brought, hung, partitioned, lit, burned, and offered items in exactly the place and way “…the Lord had commanded” (v. 32).

Tabernacle Image

God’s Glory

The book of Exodus ends in dramatic fashion with God’s glory – in the form of a cloud – filling the completed tabernacle (v. 34). What a site that must have been! Through all their journey to the Promised Land, God would lead his people in the form of the cloud by day and fire by night. They would take their direction from his presence (40:37-38). When and where He said “Go”, they went.

What a comfort to know that our Heavenly Father is a personal God. He doesn’t leave us abandoned at the point of salvation. Instead, he moves in and takes up residence in the hearts of those who believe in His name. And one day, we will be able to see Him face to face in glory. 

Questions to Consider:

Is God’s presence with you? Have you accepted Him into your heart? 

Once completed, God’s glory filled the Tabernacle and His presence led the people. Are you sensitive to God’s leading in your life? Are your steps aligned with His or are you doing your own thing?

What other points would you want to know about in our Exodus 39-40 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.

Tabernacle Image and Tabernacle Schematic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons