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“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 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 (NIV)
The last thing we see on this epic journey of Exodus that began with 400 years of slavery is the glory of the Lord on full display and the presence of the Lord physically dwelling with His people! We’re told the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, and the cloud and fire that had guided the Israelites throughout their journey was now covering the entrance to the tabernacle.
According to Matthew Henry, “While the cloud rested on the tabernacle, they rested; when it removed, they followed it. The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
Now, I want you to see these two elements through which the Lord represents Himself here. Light and fire.
1 John 1:5 (PHILLIPS) tells us, “Here, then, is the message which we heard from him, and now proclaim to you: GOD IS LIGHT and no shadow of darkness can exist in him.”
Everything in Him, everything about Him, everything that He pours into us and gives to us is full of light. He isn’t simply the light, or a light, but light itself. God is the source and fountain of light in all worlds. He is that which dispels darkness and shines with beautiful radiance into our lives. In John 8:12 (NLT, emphasis added), Jesus declares to us, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” He provides comfort, peace, clarity, and beauty to all things.
Hebrews 12:29 (ESV) says, “For our God is a consuming fire.” And fire is a magnificent thing! It provides heat and power and can be used to shape, mold, create, and purify, but it’s also destructive. It’s to be treated with the utmost respect. In the same way, our God is to be revered and feared; we must have awe and respect for our Lord, knowing that, as Joseph Barnes stated, “all that we see in the divine dealings with wicked people, that punishment, as inflicted by him, is awful and overwhelming.” His fire consumes us and makes us pure and refined, but His fire will also consume and bring about His righteous, holy, and perfect wrath upon evildoers.
One final note: Moses wasn’t able to enter the tent until the splendor of God lifted. But what Moses couldn’t do, Jesus did. In fact, in Matthew 17, we see Jesus not simply enter into the place of the glory of God, but as God in the flesh He displayed His glory! “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2 NIV). And because “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3 ESV), He has brought us near to God, enabling us to come boldly, even to the mercy-seat of God and live forever in His presence. He has caused His glory to shine on us and in us forever and ever. BLESSED BE GOD FOR JESUS CHRIST!
Pause: What has this journey through Exodus taught you?
Practice: Memorize 1 John 1:5 and Hebrews 12:29.
Pray: Father, thank You for making Your face shine upon me and in me through Christ Jesus. Thank You for the light that gives me peace and allows me to never walk in darkness, and thank You for the consuming fire that purifies and refines my heart and mind through the Holy Spirit and molds me like glass in the hands of a master glass worker into the image of Your Son. Thank You for revealing Your glory to me and using me to reveal Your glory to others. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.