On the first day of the new year, the Tabernacle is prepared for the arrival of God’s presence.
Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.
Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.
The Israelites were once Egyptian slaves making bricks without straw. Here they were following the glory of God, the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, and carrying the Tabernacle they had built for God. Exodus begins in gloom and ends in glory. This is the kind of life God calls us into. We begin as slaves to sin, are redeemed by God, and end our pilgrimage living with God forever.
The Tabernacle was God’s home on earth. He filled it with his glory—the overpowering sense of his presence. Almost 500 years later, Solomon built the Temple, which replaced the Tabernacle as the central place of worship. God also filled the Temple with his glory (2 Chronicles 5:13-14). But when Israel turned from God, his glory and presence departed from the Temple, and it was destroyed by invading armies (2 Kings 25). The Temple was rebuilt in 515 b.c. by the returned exiles.
God’s glory returned to the Temple in even greater splendor nearly five centuries later when Jesus Christ, God’s Son, entered it and taught there. When Jesus was crucified, God’s glory again left the Temple. However, after Jesus rose from the dead God no longer used a physical building. God’s temple now is his church, the body of believers.
As you worship in church this weekend, look for evidence of God’s presence and glory—in the music played and sung, the words spoken, and, most of all, in God’s people.