God can’t help himself. He just has to micro-manage and gives some last minute instructions for setting up the tabernacle, and he makes Moses write down every single step he takes in arranging the furniture and the curtains just to make sure that nothing is missed or placed in a way that clashes with the principles of feng shui.

Next, God confirms that Aaron is to be his high priest (and his descendants after him). A questionable choice after the Golden Calf incident (in which Aaron not only built the thing, he also lied about it afterwards). He hardly seems to be the most competent spiritual leader.

Have you ever wondered how much time the Hebrews have spent at Sinai/Horeb? We’ve had talk about 40 days here and 40 days there, but according to my Study Bible, that’s just “a round number for an indefinitely long time” (p.109), so I haven’t bothered trying to get an estimate. In this chapter, however, we’re told specifically that Moses puts the tabernacle together on the first day of the first month of the second year (Exod. 40:17). Many chapters ago, we read that the Hebrews arrived at Sinai/Horeb “on the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone forth out of the land of Egypt” (Exod. 19:1). Ergo, it’s been 9 months. BAM! Question answered.

Do you walk with the Lord?

Exodus 40In this chapter, we also get a description of how God is leading the Hebrews. He is presenting himself over the tabernacle in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exod. 40:38), so the people walk when they see him and stop when they don’t. This is the same system they were using way back in 13:21. I guess God’s had some time to cool off and no longer needs to get an angel to lead them since he “will not go up among you, lest I consume you in the way” (Exod. 33:3).

There is one rather confusing detail here, though. We’re told at several points through the story that God is physically present among the people when there’s a cloud hanging around the tabernacle. But in Exod. 33:9, we’re told that “when Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend.” In other words, God and Moses hang out together in the tabernacle.

But in this chapter, we’re told that “Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it” (Exod. 40:35). Unless God hasn’t forgiven the Hebrews and that’s why he’s refusing to chat with Moses now! Oh my goodness, I think I’ve solved it!