Chapter forty ties up the book of Exodus in a neat package.
Remember that in chapters 25 – 31, God tells Moses how to construct the tabernacle. In chapters 35 – 39, Israel constructs it as God commanded. In chapter forty, the first 16 verses instruct on how to set up the tabernacle. In the final sixteen verses, Israel does as God commanded.
It is only when everything is done as God commanded that the glory of the Lord settles among His people. As Victor Hamilton observes: “Whenever God’s work is done in God’s way for God’s glory, the brilliant presence of His Majesty is almost a given.”
The tabernacle was set up on the “first day of the first month,” a date mentioned only six other times in the Bible. This is the second time. The first time was after the flood when the water had dried up from the earth (Genesis 8:13). Both times mark a new beginning. This time, God’s people would begin with His presence among them.
When we become Christians, God adopts us into His family and takes up his dwelling within us by means of His Holy Spirit. It is truly a new beginning, and auspicious at that, for from that time forward, the journey of our life is conducted in an intimate presence with Goe not available before, and not available to anyone outside His covenant.