34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
Exodus 40:34-38 (New International Version)
Revealing His Glory
In Exodus 40, the Lord’s glory envelops the tabernacle. With this amazing miracle, the story of Israel’s liberation from both physical and spiritual bondage comes to a close. The journey to freedom was a long and challenging one. Israel experienced many false starts and persecutions. Yet despite this, God revealed Himself to be faithful by displaying His power and grace in every leg of their journey.
Throughout the Exodus, the Lord made Himself known to Israel. He gave them His Law so that they would live righteously before Him. He even gave them a place where they can worship Him every day. Why did the Lord do such things for Israel? He did these things because He chose Israel to be His special people, and through them would His glory be revealed to the entire world.
Who would even imagine that the Lord God, who made all things, would make His glory known to a small nation of people? Israel itself was not unique among the nations, so why did God choose them? To find the answer, we should not look at the character of Israel, but set our eyes on the character of God.
Grace Shows Who He Is
Throughout Scripture, God shows His favor upon different people. He does so not because they earned it or because they were special. Instead, He showed grace to them in order to show that He was the one true God, and if they would submit to His will, they would find peace in Him. By making Israel His special people, God was letting them know that they had found favor with Him and nothing that they do will ever take away His grace towards them.
Being Filled With Glory
As Christians, the reason why Israel was chosen by God sounds very familiar. When Jesus came to earth, He did so to save us from the bondage of sin through His death and resurrection. Not because we deserved salvation, but because God chose to show favor to us and save us. As a result of this salvation we have in Him, Jesus now dwells within us, and just as the tabernacle was filled with God’s glory, we too have been filled with Christ’s glory in us. A glory that is so wonderful that all who see it will desire to know where the glory comes from.
Living According to His Grace
While being under God’s grace has its perks, it also calls us to live our lives according to His grace. Israel was free from bondage, but their journey was not over yet. They had to get to the land which the Lord had promised them. Between them and the promise was a vast desolate wilderness. Israel understood that in order to get to the Promise Land, it was important that they trust and follow the Lord always, whether it be in the coolness of night, or in the heat of the day.
In the same way, as we Christians move through life, if we want a life that is fruitful, we must go forth according to the way which He has set before us. That way is found through thoughtful study of His Bible and with prayer. We have been freed from the bondage of sin. It is now time for us to live like we are free in Christ.