The culmination of the Exodus was the Glorious God dwelling in the midst of His redeemed people. Through a display of both His transcendence and His immanence He paved the way for the ultimate dwelling of God with man-Jesus Christ. Jesus is the perfect Mediator who guides us through the wilderness of this life through both His transcendent glory and His ever-present love.
The tabernacle had to pass a rigorous building inspection before it was worthy to be occupied by God’s holy presence. Our lives, too, must pass inspection if the holy God is to dwell among us and bestow His blessing. The only problem is, left to ourselves we fail every time! Only Christ’s perfect righteousness credited to our account by grace meets God’s holy standard and allows us to live a life that is free from both perfectionism and apathy.
As with the building of the tabernacle, God’s work in our lives often seems slow, repetitive, and painstaking. We wonder why the process is so difficult at times, and whether it will ever end. But God shows us from His Word that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion through Christ Jesus our Lord. The One who finished God’s work perfectly on the cross is both willing and able to refashion us in His likeness as we look to Him for grace.
It is easy to try and serve the Lord in our own power, but we only end up doing the wrong things, in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons, and with no lasting effect. Only service that is enabled by His Holy Spirit will bring true and lasting glory to the One who set us free through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Though it might seem like God’s main goal in Exodus 35 was to build a tabernacle, His greater goal was to build a people who would be united to Him in a spirit of selfless thankfulness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ we, too, are being built into a spiritual building to offer thanks to our God as we proclaim His glory to the nations.
God’s glory is so great that Moses’ face literally glowed after meeting with Him. His entire countenance was transformed and his ministry made effective because it was obvious to everyone that he had been with God. In the same way, the Lord Jesus desires to meet with us each day so that we might reflect His glory to the watching world.
We tend not to give second chances to the people who sin against us. We harbor resentment, foster suspicion, and fear being hurt again. Thankfully, God is not like us. He is the God of second chances who shows mercy to undeserving people whom He knows will sin against Him again. He is able to do this (and yet remain just) through the sacrifice of a Mediator who took the guilt of our sin upon Himself so that we might know the grace of God.
Moses knew that God’s Presence was essential for his own life and leadership, for the welfare of the nation, and for Israel’s witness to the world. Without His immediate presence they would be directionless, defenseless, and hopeless. We, too, are helpless whenever we try to live our lives apart from the abiding Presence of God. The good news is that God sent His Son and His Spirit so that believers might know the grace of His saving Presence every moment of every day.
In Exodus 33 the Israelites were terrified to think that God had left them alone. He had not left them, of course, even though their sin had indeed strained the intimacy of their relationship. Through His mediator He continued to share regular fellowship with his people. Whether due to our circumstances or our sin, we often feel isolated from God in our everyday lives. But we are never alone if we have known the grace of Jesus Christ. He is the Ultimate Mediator who secures our permanent fellowship with God no matter where we are or what we have done.
Hebrews 12 says, ‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ The Israelites no doubt felt that God’s discipline following the golden calf incident was quite harsh, just as we do when facing discipline for our sin. But in His mercy, God always disciplines us for His greater glory, our greater good, and the greater proclamation of His grace through the Savior, Jesus Christ.