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Scripture reading – Exodus 39-40

We conclude our study of the Book of Exodus with today’s Scripture reading (Exodus 39-40). I applaud your discipline if you have followed this “Heart of A Shepherd” from the first of this year, and I trust my daily devotional commentaries have proved to be edifying. Together, we have completed a study of three books of the Bible: Genesis, Job, and Exodus! With the LORD’s blessing, we will fulfill Paul’s challenge to Timothy when he exhorted that young pastor: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).


Several recent chapters (Exodus 25-40) were devoted to preparing Israel to bind to God’s Covenant and worship the LORD. God gave Moses directions and detailed descriptions of what He required for His sanctuary. They included the construction of His Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant and Mercy Seat, the Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, the Table for the bread, and various implements needed within and without the Tabernacle. The LORD also provided Moses with specific details about the Courtyard, its Brazen Altar, and the fount that served the priests as a washing station for their hands and feet.

Exodus 39 

The “Holy Garments” of the High Priest

An earlier chapter (Exodus 28) recorded the design of the “holy garments” to be worn by Aaron, the brother of Moses, whom God chose as His high priest. Finally, exodus 39 recorded the fabrication of the high priests’ garments: “And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the Lord commanded Moses” (39:1).

The stunning colors of the high priest’s “holy garments” were given (39:1-2), as well as the breastplate embedded with twelve precious stones, each engraved with the names of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel covering his chest (39:8-14).  Also, a description of the bindings of the breastplate was given, as well as other articles of clothing worn by the high priest (39:15-31). Finally, fastened to his turban was a plate of gold engraved with the words, “Holiness to the LORD” (39:30-31).

The Completion of the Tabernacle (39:32-43)

A blessed testimony for God’s people and their attention to honoring Him was summed up in Exodus 39:32, where we read, “Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did they” (39:32). So the people presented all to Moses for his inspection, including the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and the golden implements the LORD required (39:32-42). Moses then looked “upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them” (39:43).

Exodus 40 – “The End” was Only the Beginning!

Setting Up the Tabernacle (40:1-8)

With all completed as the LORD required, He commanded Moses, saying: “On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation” (40:1). Moses was tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the assembly of the Tabernacle, its implements, dedicating the high priest, his sons, and the garments they were to wear in the priests’ office (40:2-8).

Consecrating All to the LORD (40:9-11)

Moses was commanded to “take the anointing oil” and dedicate as holy the Tabernacle and its vessels (40:9-11). Then, in a public ceremony of dedication, Moses was commanded to have Aaron and his sons come to “the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water” (40:12). Then, he was to “put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto [the LORD] in the priest’s office” (40:13). Aaron’s sons were also to be anointed, and clothed in the robes of the “priest’s office” (40:15). Moses did all as commanded (40:16-43). Then he dedicated the work to the LORD (40:33).

An Outward Manifestation of the LORD’s Approval (40:34-38)

“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (40:34). The outward manifestation of God’s approval was such that Moses could not enter the tabernacle “because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (40:35). Indeed, it was the abiding presence of the cloud that directed the steps and direction for Israel in the wilderness (40:36-37).

A sign of the LORD’s perpetual presence with His people was summed up in this: “For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (40:38).

Closing thoughts –

We have learned that the LORD is interested in the place of worship and the preparation and dedication of those who serve Him as His ministers. Therefore, Moses, Aaron, and his sons were commanded to ceremonially wash their hands and feet “when they came near unto the altar,” for they served as the intercessors for the people (40:30-32).

Thirteen times in Exodus 39 and Exodus 40, we read the phrase, “as the LORD commanded Moses.” That phrase reminds me that half-hearted preparation for worshipping the LORD is unacceptable. Our God is holy, and those who serve Him should reflect His character in their lives, service, and worship.

An Exhortation to Dedication

Are you aware that the LORD requires every believer to be dedicated to Him? As He commanded Moses to dedicate and consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve Him, He requires the same of every believer.

In his letter to believers in Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Take a few minutes, pray, and dedicate yourself to the LORD!

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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