Exodus 40:33 (HCSB)
33 Next Moses set up the surrounding courtyard for the tabernacle and the altar and hung a screen for the gate of the courtyard. So Moses finished the work.
So we have been brought to the point of actually assembling the tabernacle, and its surrounding area, and placing all the items within it, all according to the way God commanded. In addition, this passage contains instructions for the washing of Aaron, as well as his anointing, and that of the other priests. This is the culmination, from the human side, of all the work done in producing the tabernacle.
I think much of this has the same significance as the previous 3+ chapters: it highlights the obedience of the Israelites, here embodied by Moses. We see brief summary descriptions from God for the assembly, and brief summary descriptions of Moses carrying them out. And it is easy to simply skim through here and not really see anything new. But I think there is a small nuance here, and it is embodied in Exodus 40:33b.
“So Moses finished the work.” (Exodus 40:33b) Don’t we know from life experience what happens when we start projects, but do not finish them? Almost certainly the end result is unsatisfactory, it falls short of its full potential, or simply fails altogether. And what does that look like in our spiritual life when we make great beginnings, but never reach the finish? Does it leave the door cracked for sin and evil? Does it harden us, through missing out on the reward of completion, to God’s glory? Does it condition us to accept the world and it’s ways rather than God and His?
No doubt the Israelites have had their struggles. Imagine what impact it would have had on them had the tabernacle been built, all the parts and pieces finished, but then never actually assemble and set it up. It would have been catastrophic! Heck, they couldn’t go 40 days not that long ago, while Moses was up on the mountain, without crafting an idol and worshipping it rather than God. Because remember, the tabernacle was to be where God would dwell among His people. So if it never is assembled, it does not exist, and God does not dwell among His people. If God is absent, how long does it take for man to fill His place with something else, whether it be a golden calf, money, food, porn, demons, or self?
This makes me think of Paul’s writing in 2 Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:7 (HCSB)
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
It’s very easy to get stuck on the starting. We want to see God’s kingdom expand, see new souls be saved, see people come to know Christ. As we should! But we should not forget the end of the race either. Just as Paul “finished the race,” and Moses “finished the work,” we should be mindful to “finish” as well. God is not a god of starts and no finishes, nor should we, His people, be the same.
Lord, thank You for already finishing it. You hung on the cross, died, were buried, and rose again. You defeated death, You’ve already won the battle. I pray that You would empower us to march with You, to finish string all the races that You have designed for us. Amen.