Exodus 40:38
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
40:34-38 The cloud covered the tabernacle even in the clearest day; it was not a cloud which the sun scatters. This cloud was a token of God's presence to be seen day and night, by all Israel, that they might never again question, Is the Lord among us, or is he not? It guided the camp of Israel through the wilderness. While the cloud rested on the tabernacle, they rested; when it removed, they followed it. The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In light and fire the Shechinah made itself visible: God is Light; our God is a consuming Fire. Yet so dazzling was the light, and so dreadful the fire, that Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, till the splendour was abated. But what Moses could not do, our Lord Jesus has done, whom God caused to draw near; and who has invited us to come boldly, even to the mercy-seat. Being taught by the Holy Spirit to follow the example of Christ, as well as to depend upon him, to attend his ordinances, and obey his precepts, we shall be kept from losing our way, and be led in the midst of the paths of judgment, till we come to heaven, the habitation of his holiness. BLESSED BE GOD FOR JESUS CHRIST!Compare the entrance of the high priest into the holy of holies on the day of atonement, Leviticus 16:2, Leviticus 16:13. For special appearances of this glory in the tabernacle, see Numbers 14:10; Numbers 16:19, Numbers 16:42.

The tabernacle, after it had accompanied the Israelites in their wanderings in the wilderness, was most probably first set up in the holy land at Gilgal Joshua 4:19; Joshua 5:10; Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:6, Joshua 10:43. But before the death of Joshua, it was erected at Shiloh Joshua 18:1; Joshua 19:51. Here it remained as the national sanctuary throughout the time of the Judges Jos 18:8; Joshua 21:2; Joshua 22:19; Judges 18:31; Judges 21:19; 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 4:3. But its external construction was at this time somewhat changed, and doors, strictly so called, had taken the place of the entrance curtain 1 Samuel 3:15 : hence, it seems to have been sometimes called the temple 1 Samuel 1:9; 1 Samuel 3:3, the name by which the structure of Solomon was afterward commonly known. After the time of Eli it was removed to Nob in the canton of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem 1 Samuel 21:1-9. From thence, in the time of David, it was removed to Gibeon 1 Chronicles 16:39; 1 Chronicles 21:29; 2 Chronicles 1:3; 1 Kings 3:4; 1 Kings 9:2. It was brought from Gibeon to Jerusalem by Solomon 1 Kings 8:4. After this, it disappears from the narrative of Scripture. When the temple of Solomon was built, "the tabernacle of the tent" had entirely performed its work; it had protected the ark of the covenant during the migrations of the people until they were settled in the land, and the promise was fulfilled, that the Lord would choose out a place for Himself in which His name should be preserved and His service should be maintained Deuteronomy 12:14, Deuteronomy 12:21; Deuteronomy 14:24.

In accordance with its dignity as the most sacred object in the sanctuary, the original ark of the covenant constructed by Moses was preserved and transferred from the tabernacle to the temple. The golden altar, the candlestick and the showbread table were renewed by Solomon. They were subsequently renewed by Zerubbabel, and lastly by the Maccabees (see Exodus 25:23.) But the ark was preserved in the temple until Jerusalem was taken by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar 2 Chronicles 35:3; Jeremiah 3:16. It was never replaced in the second temple. According to a rabbinical tradition, its site was marked by a block of stone.

38. the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle, &c.—While it had hitherto appeared sometimes in one place, sometimes in another, it was now found on the tabernacle only; so that from the moment that sanctuary was erected, and the glory of the Lord had filled the sacred edifice, the Israelites had to look to the place which God had chosen to put His name there, in order that they might enjoy the benefit of a heavenly Guide (Nu 9:15-23). In like manner, the church had divine revelation for its guide from the first—long before the Word of God existed in a written form; but ever since the setting up of that sacred canon, it rests on that as its tabernacle and there only is it to be found. It accompanies us wherever we are or go, just as the cloud led the way of the Israelites. It is always accessible and can be carried in our pockets when we walk abroad; it may be engraved on the inner tablets of our memories and our hearts; and so true, faithful, and complete a guide is it, that there is not a scene of duty or of trial through which we may be called to pass in the world, but it furnishes a clear, a safe, and unerring direction (Col 3:16). The same pillar which in the day-time was like a cloud, in the night-time had the appearance of fire. See Exodus 13:21.

For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day,.... Or over it (g), it covered it, when it abode upon it, and rested; and stood on high over it when it moved and the people journeyed:

and fire was on it by night; the same phenomenon which had the appearance of a cloud in the day time shone like fire in the night time: or "fire was in it" (h); that is, in the cloud; so it appeared in the night, and was, as the Targum of Jonathan here calls it, a pillar of fire; the same with the pillar of cloud and fire, which departed not from the people all the while they were in the wilderness, Exodus 13:21 and this was

in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys; whether by night or by day; for in hot countries they travel much by night; and as the cloud was both a shelter from the heat of the sun in the daytime, and a direction of their way; so the fire by night was of the same use for direction, and might be also terrifying to wild beasts in the wilderness, who are afraid of fire, and so be a security to the Israelites from them; all which is an emblem of the guidance and protection, light, joy, and comfort, the church of God has from his gracious presence, while in the wilderness of this world; see Isaiah 4:5.

(g) "supra tabernaculum", Drusius. (h) "in ea"; Fagius, Junius & Tremellius; Drusius.

For {h} 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.

(h) Thus the presence of God preserved and guided them night and day, till they came to the land promised.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
38. and there was fire therein, &c.] i.e. in the cloud. Cf. Numbers 9:15-16 (P).

The book thus closes with the fulfilment of the promise given in Exodus 29:43; Exodus 29:45 (see on Exodus 29:43-46). The Dwelling is complete,—and Jehovah, with His protecting and sanctifying Presence, has taken up His abode in it, in the midst of His people. For the noble and impressive symbolism by which this great idea is expressed, see p. 113.

Verse 38. - The cloud... was upon the tabernacle by day and fire was on. it by night. Compare Exodus 13:21, 22; and Exodus 14:20, 24; Numbers 9:15, 16. The cloud had two aspects - one obscure, the other radiant. It was a dark column by day - a pillar of fire by night. Thus it was always visible.



Exodus 40:38When the sanctuary, that had been built for the Lord for a dwelling in Israel, had been set up with all its apparatus, "the cloud covering the tabernacle, and the glory of Jehovah filled the dwelling," so that Moses was unable to enter. The cloud, in which Jehovah had hitherto been present with His people, and guided and protected them upon their journeying (see at Exodus 13:21-22), now came down upon the tabernacle and filled the dwelling with the gracious presence of the Lord. So long as this cloud rested upon the tabernacle the children of Israel remained encamped; but when it ascended, they broke up the encampment to proceed onwards. This sign was Jehovah's command for encamping or going forward "throughout all their journeys" (Exodus 40:36-38). This statement is repeated still more elaborately in Numbers 9:15-23. The mode in which the glory of Jehovah filled the dwelling, or in which Jehovah manifested His presence within it, is not described; but the glory of Jehovah filling the dwelling is clearly distinguished from the cloud coming down upon the tabernacle. It is obvious, however, from Leviticus 16:2, and 1 Kings 8:10-11, that in the dwelling the glory of God was also manifested in a cloud. At the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:10-11) the expression "the cloud filled the house of Jehovah" is used interchangeably with "the glory of Jehovah filled the house of Jehovah." To consecrate the sanctuary, which had been finished and erected as His dwelling, and to give to the people a visible proof that He had chosen it for His dwelling, Jehovah filled the dwelling in both its parts with the cloud which shadowed forth His presence, so that Moses was unable to enter it. This cloud afterwards drew back into the most holy place, to dwell there, above the outspread wings of the cherubim of the ark of the covenant; so that Moses and (at a later period) the priests were able to enter the holy place and perform the required service there, without seeing the sign of the gracious presence of God, which was hidden by the curtain of the most holy place. So long as the Israelites were on their journey to Canaan, the presence of Jehovah was manifested outwardly and visibly by the cloud, which settled upon the ark, and rose up from it when they were to travel onward.

With the completion of this building and its divine consecration, Israel had now received a real pledge of the permanence of the covenant of grace, which Jehovah had concluded with it; a sanctuary which perfectly corresponded to the existing circumstances of its religious development, and kept constantly before it the end of its calling from God. For although God dwelt in the tabernacle in the midst of His people, and the Israelites might appear before Him, to pray for and receive the covenant blessings that were promised them, they were still forbidden to go directly to God's throne of grace. The barrier, which sin had erected between the holy God and the unholy nation, was not yet taken away. To this end the law was given, which could only increase their consciousness of sin and unworthiness before God. But as this barrier had already been broken through by the promise of the Lord, that He would meet the people in His glory before the door of the tabernacle at the altar of burnt-offering (Exodus 29:42-43); so the entrance of the chosen people into the dwelling of God was effected mediatorially by the service of the sanctified priests in the holy place, which also prefigured their eventual reception into the house of the Lord. And even the curtain, which still hid the glory of God from the chosen priests and sanctified mediators of the nation, was to be lifted at least once a year by the anointed priest, who had been called by God to be the representative of the whole congregation. On the day of atonement the high priest was to sprinkle the blood of atonement in front of the throne of grace, to make expiation for the children of Israel because of all their sin (Leviticus 16), and to prefigure the perfect atonement through the blood of the eternal Mediator, through which the way to the throne of grace is opened to all believers, that they may go into the house of God and abide there for ever, and for ever see God.

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