Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was completed; and the sons of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did…. And Moses examined all the work and behold, they had done it; just as the LORD had commanded, this they had done. So Moses blessed them.
Exodus 39:32, 43
After several chapters of describing how the people did the work and in what order and how meticulously they adhered to God’s instructions, it culminates in the statement that the sons of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did.
This is particularly interesting to me, because the command and the work follow on the heels of Moses coming down from the mountain with the second set of stone tablets. When he came down with the first set, he found the Israelites worshiping an idol and doing all sorts of sinful things. Unpleasantness followed and Moses had to slog back up the mountain to intercede for the Israelites and get a second set of tablets. When he comes down with the second set of stone tablets, he finds the Israelites ready and willing to donate resources and time and skills to the creation of the tabernacle. It is quite the contrast.
Three things pop as I read this.
One, the sons of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses. Obedience. It was obedience that invited the presence of God into their midst. A few chapters back, it was noted that the pillar of cloud/fire would settle on Moses’ tent which was pitched outside the camp. God’s presence was not in their midst. In the next chapter, the tabernacle is set up and God’s presence comes to rest on it so strongly that Moses cannot go in to minister. The tabernacle is, according to other passages, the center of the camp. The tabernacle is set up and everyone sets up their campsites accordingly. God’s presence rests on the tabernacle which is in the middle of their camp. Their obedience invited God into their midst and God responded by accepting the invitation.
Two, Moses examined all the work. Our work; the things we do as believers are being examined. God examines my work. Paul writes that every believer’s works will be tested by fire and whatever remains is kept. God is a Consuming Fire and it is He Who tests my work in that way. The world also examines my works. People who know I am a believer are looking at my life, trying to see if my actions match the God I profess to serve. I am certain that there are times when my actions do not, just as I am certain that there are times when they do. God is gracious, He knows I will mess up and He is ready to forgive whenever I am ready to repent. People … not so much. My works; the things I do and say are being examined.
Three, Moses blessed them. When Moses saw that their works were obedient to God’s command, he blessed them. Obedience, as noted in the first thing, invites God’s presence. Obedience also prompts blessing. Too often I think of blessing as some specific thing that I want to happen or to receive. Maybe I think of blessing as a new job when I look for one (not looking, a the moment) or think of it as a new place to live (for which I am looking) or some other tangible thing that I can point to and call it a blessing. But God’s blessing is just as often — if not more often — something intangible, like love for others or joy despite sad circumstances or peace in the midst of difficulties. These blessings not only benefit me, but bring glory to God as others — who are examining my works — see these things and begin to wonder whether or not there might be something to the God I claim to follow. Others might see those intangible blessings and realize that God can give those to them as well.
Obedience invites God’s presence and prompts His blessing and my works, obedient or not, are being examined.
Thank You, Father, for this reminder that obedience is inviting to You. I know that I can get muddled and lose sight of this. Thank You also that obedience prompts blessing. It is pleasant to be reminded that there is more than just the satisfaction of having done right to be found in obedience to You. Please continue Your work in my life to make me obedient and right with You and holy, so that others may see the work You have done in me and glorify Your Name.