Kevin DeYoung / Jun 18, 2017 / Exodus Exodus 40:1-38
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Sermon Summary / Transcript
O Lord our God, we need thee every hour, especially this one. We pray that you would bless us now, our Savior, as we come to thee. We ask that you would speak to us, comfort us, lead us, help us, show us more of Christ and his glory, and fill us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in him. We pray that you would make us humble, for we know that you oppose the proud, but have promised to give grace to the humble. We look forward to receiving grace from your hand. Open our ears, eyes, minds, and hearts to receive your word, that when you speak to us, we would listen. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
One of my sons came to me several days ago, and said, “Dad, how does Harry Potter get to the bottom of a hill?” I said, “I don’t know. How does he?” He said, “Walking. J.K., Rowling.” That has nothing to do with anything in this sermon, but I’ve been thinking of bad dad jokes to try to help myself push back tears all day.
I’ve put a lot of thought into what to do in this sermon. I don’t really watch any TV shows anymore, except for sports and whatever my wife watches on HGTV. Back in the day, though, when the old sitcoms got to the end of a season (or sometimes the end of the show), they’d do one of those retrospective episodes. It’d be the whole family just sitting around on the couch, saying, “Remember when…?” Then the fuzzy lines would come, and they would show a flashback. It was probably a really cheap way to make one more episode. So I thought that if we had the technology (and a big enough couch), we could just relive some of our past moments.
Of course, it’s much better than all that to go to God’s Word—and where should we go to but the next passage? OK, it’s not quite the next passage, but it’s the end of Exodus. Turn to Exodus 40, and follow along as I read.
I’m trying my best not to break down during this message. I’m summoning the strength of all the stoic Dutch ancestors of times gone by…
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. And you shall put in it the ark of the testimony, and you shall screen the ark with the veil. And you shall bring in the table and arrange it, and you shall bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. And you shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the screen for the door of the tabernacle. You shall set the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. And you shall set up the court all around, and hang up the screen for the gate of the court.
“Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy. You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar may become most holy. You shall also anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”
This Moses did; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did. In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. And he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent over it, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark and set the mercy seat above on the ark. And he brought the ark into the tabernacle and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil, and arranged the bread on it before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle, and set up the lamps before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil, and burned fragrant incense on it, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He put in place the screen for the door of the tabernacle. And he set the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. When they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, as the Lord commanded Moses. And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. Exodus 40
We started this series almost two years and 60 sermons ago. We’ve skipped a few chapters—the instructions for building the tabernacle, and the actual building process—so that we could speed our way through to Exodus 40. Some of you have asked, so you’ll perhaps be interested that I plan to preach in the months ahead in Charlotte through Exodus in the evenings. Their previous pastor had stopped at Exodus 15, so I thought, “I’ve been in Exodus. I’ll pick up in Exodus 16, which will give me a chance to go through the chapters that I missed.” If you want to hear the tabernacle chapters, you can get them in the months ahead.
Today is a day of endings. Endings are hard. But the ending of this book is perfect. It does two things: first, it answers one big question; and then, like a good ending that leads us into another chapter of the story, it leaves us with one big cliffhanger.
The Big Question
First, one big question is answered: “Will God really be with us?”
Once or twice in the past few months, you may have wondered: “What’s going to happen here? What will things be like? What’s going to change? What if things are never just like they were?” I can tell you that I’ve asked all of those same questions. As is so often the case, our head theology is ahead of our heart theology. We know what God’s word says. We know it is true and right. We know what to believe. But we’re like the father in Mark 9 who cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
So we can understand what the Israelites must have been feeling: “We know what you’ve done. We’ve seen your work. We know what you’ve said. But we want to know: will you really be with us? We know you’ve said it. We know your promises. But will you really be with us?”
Really, this is a question that the Israelites asked throughout the book of Exodus. Remember how this all started? Exodus 1 picks up, very deliberately, from the end of Genesis 50: “…there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” Joseph had risen to second in command over Egypt, and the Pharaoh had done many favors for him and his family. But now there was a Pharaoh who didn’t know who Joseph was. When he looked out and saw the people multiplying, he was scared, and he began to persecute them.
We read of Shiphrah and Puah, who saved the children. Then we come into Exodus 2, and read of the inauspicious beginning of this deliverer to be: Moses is hidden away in a little boat in the Nile River, rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter, and banished to Midian when he tries to rescue one of his countrymen.
Then you get to the end of Exodus 2. As I said then, it’s one of my favorite texts in all the Bible. God’s people have been crying out for 400 years of slavery, and all of the stage seems barren, blank, and dark. “Is God listening? Is he here? Does he know or care? Will he really be with us?” And what does it say? “God heard…God remembered…God saw…and God knew.”
Specifically, it says that he “remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” What was that covenant? Look at Genesis 17, where God establishes the covenant of circumcision with Abraham and Isaac (who was yet to be born). He makes three promises:
- “You’re going to have a son, and be the father of many nations.”
- “I’m going to give you a land.”
- The third promise undergirds and overrides all of the others: “You will be my people and I will be your God.”
In other words, the promise at the heart of all the covenant promises is, “I will really be with you.” When the people were wondering “What’s going on with four centuries of slavery?”–at that moment, God said nothing to them. And yet we read, because the Spirit narrated this for us, that he saw, heard, remembered, and knew.
Throughout the book, God’s people are asking, “Will God really be with us?” When he raised up a deliverer, Moses, he met him in a burning bush on the far side of Midian, not far from Mt. Sinai. And the Lord told him two things from the bush—two things that he needed to hear, and that his people would always need to remember. Verse 12: “But I will be with you…” Verse 14: “I am who I am.”
I’ve said all along that Exodus is about the God who makes himself known, but the God who makes himself known is the God who was there. “Here’s what you need to know, Moses: I am who I am (that’s my name), and I will be with you.”
God sent him to Pharaoh with one unshakable, unalterable message: “Let my people go!” But the message didn’t end there: “Let my people go, that they may go out into the wilderness and worship and serve me.” It was never just about delivering the people from slavery. The Lord’s endgame was always bringing them to himself. Yes, he had compassion on them. Yes, he acted in the face of injustice—but it was more than just righting a wrong. It was freeing them from that slavery and bringing them to himself, that those covenant promises would be fulfilled. “I will be a God to you. You’ll be my people. And I will be with you.”
Throughout the book, the presence of God is symbolized by the glory cloud. I picture the sights and sounds of last night, around 7 or 8 PM. It was a narrow band, but it came over our house with loud rumbling, an absolute downpour of rain, and some flashes of lightning. Even before the rain came down, you could just see that it wasn’t going to be good. That sort of ominous, mysterious, weighty cloud—a cloud of majesty and glory—had been with the Israelites ever since they were set free from Egypt.
It was there in Exodus 13: “…a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night a pillar of fire…” It was there to protect and guide. Then, in Exodus 14, it was there to keep them safe. They were literally between a rock and a hard spot, with the Egyptians at their back and the Red Sea at their front. But the cloud, the very presence of the Lord, came behind them and protected them, to say, “When it is time, you’ll go through.”
The cloud was there in chapter 16. It appeared to them in the wilderness. Then there was fire and smoke on the mountain, as we read in Exodus 24:
Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Exodus 24:15-17
This cloud has been with them. It settled on Mt. Sinai, where Moses would meet with the Lord. We see that in Exodus 34:5, which says that “The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.”
This cloud is a cloud of glory. As you’ve heard me say before, the Hebrew word for glory (“kabod”) is the same as their word for weight, or heaviness. How do you define the glory of God? It is (fundamentally) a cognizance of the weightiness of divine things, and the heaviness of God. It’s not an oppressive, crushing weight, but a majestic, transcendent, all-consuming fire of God’s glory.
Our world, and even many churches today, suffers from an immeasurable lightness of God. He is fleeting, floating, and ephemeral. Churches chase after all of these trivialities and style instead of substance. This is, at its very root, inimical to the description of God given in the Bible. He is a God of glory, of weight and heaviness.
The presence of God has been unpredictable so far. Since crossing the Red Sea, it has (at times) been distant and off limits—off limits, that is, for everyone except for Moses. You have to put yourselves in the sandals of the Israelites, who have had this cloud protecting them from the Egyptians, leading them through the Red Sea, telling them where to go in the wilderness, and mysteriously and fearfully resting upon Mt. Sinai—all in the past year. Only Moses can approach, while they stand at a distance. “Keep us from this God whom we fear!”
Then we read about the tabernacle. The instructions for the tabernacle, and (repeating almost verbatim at times) the building of the tabernacle seem boring, tedious, and unimportant to contemporary readers. These are the things that we skip. I’m a bad example, because I skipped them as well. However, this is at the very heart of the storyline of the book of Exodus. This is where God will dwell. Look at Exodus 25:
And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exodus 25:8
I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God. Exodus 29:45-46
This is why they were building the tabernacle: that this covenant promise could find fruition in their midst. God would have a place to live.
Why were the instructions given twice? Because the building of the tabernacle, as we’ve seen, was interrupted by the idolatry with the golden calf. You can see that the tabernacle instructions start in Exodus 25, with the sanctuary and the elements in it.
Exodus 31 ends with two guys who are filled with the Spirit and are going to build this thing. Then chapters 32-34 suddenly interrupt it with the sin with the golden calf, before we come back to Exodus 35 with contributions to the tabernacle, and it’s finally built.
The instructions were given twice for a good reason. Think about it. God designed to give a tent for his presence. And what was the sin with the golden calf all about? It was a failure to recognize God’s presence among them. Remember what they said? “’As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ We need to make something that we can see—a god that we can touch, whose presence is right here.” So they put in all of their gold, out came this golden calf, and they worshiped it. As they said, “Behold, the god who delivered us out of Egypt!”
It was a direct violation of what God had intended to do by building the tabernacle: building a home where he could dwell in in the very midst of his people. In their impatience, they say, “Forty days is too long. We can’t wait anymore. We need to make something that we can see, taste, touch, and dance around.”
Then the question becomes, “What now of the presence of God?” Because God says, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you will get.” Be careful asking the Lord for what you want, because he may just give it to you. They said, “We want a calf! That’s the god we want!” God says, “Okay, that’s the god that you’ll get. I’m so angry with this people. They’re so stubborn and stiff-necked. If I go with them and lead them to the Promised Land, I’m going to absolutely destroy them, because their sin is such a violation of my holiness. No, I won’t go with you.”
You see the tragic irony of sin? The very thing that they wanted was the very thing they were in danger of losing: God really being with them. We’re always in danger of losing that presence if we seek God on our own terms and our own timetable. In Exodus 32-34, as we saw, it took valiant intercession from Moses and great grace on the Lord’s part for God to welcome them back.
We see real evidence of the people’s repentance—not just tears, sackcloth, tearing of garments, and regret, but concrete expressions of obedience. First, they stripped themselves of their ornaments of pagan idolatry. That was the first sign.
Then look at Exodus 36, one of the chapters that we didn’t have time to cover:
And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more. Exodus 36:3-7
It was the most successful capital campaign in history. They put one of those giving thermometers out in the camp and it just blew up! Do you see how this is a concrete expression of repentance? How did the Israelites have anything? They were slaves. The only reason they had any money at all was because God gave them the plunder of the Egyptians, and they left with their gold. And what had they used that gold for? A calf! “Let’s forget about that. Do you still have some gold left? Let’s build something that the Lord commands.” So they bring in their offering for the sanctuary.
Let me just say this to you as a parentheses. None of the elders asked me to say this. One measure of your continued devotion to the Lord, his work, this church, and each other is that you continue to give generously to the life and the ministry of this church. Don’t sit back and say, “Well, I’m just going to sit on this and see what happens in six months.” Let it be Spirit-led giving, like this, so that the elders have to say, “Okay, enough, enough! Go to Chick-Fil-A or something. Just relax. We have enough already!”
Most importantly, the whole section on the tabernacle is repeated twice, almost verbatim, to show how meticulously the people obeyed the commandments of God.
Do you want to see something interesting? In Exodus 39, we read seven times (setting aside three summary verses) that the priestly garments were made “as the Lord had commanded Moses.”
Now go to Exodus 40. If you were paying attention as I was reading, you heard that constant refrain—seven times. The tabernacle was built “according to the Lord’s command.”
Leviticus 8 is where we finally read of Aaron and his sons being consecrated as priests. Do you want to know how many times we read that they did everything according to how the Lord had commanded Moses? Seven times. Three sevens: Exodus 39, Exodus 40, and Leviticus 8.
Moses was making a point; more than that, the Spirit of God was making a point about word-for-word obedience. This was a newly chastened, repentant, and obedient people. It might be short-lived, but at least for the time being, they had learned their lesson. Now they’re writing things down: “Tabernacle basin? Yes, sir! Check, check! Just as you commanded Moses.”
As we come to the end of Exodus 40, with the completion of the tabernacle, it’s the climax of the entire book. For us, it’s sort of a “Whew, we are finally done with all the tents, curtains, and utensils” moment. If we read this theologically, though, it’s far from being some mundane afterthought: “And they got the tent up. Congratulations! They’re camping.” No, this is what the whole book has been about.
“How do we know that the Lord is really with us—that the covenant promises haven’t been annulled—that God will still lead us and still loves us?” Here’s how: he made his home among them. The cloud came down. Surely it’s significant that in the last section (beginning in verse 34), the word “cloud” is mentioned in every verse. “…the cloud covered the tent…”, “…the cloud settled on it…”, “…whenever the cloud was taken up…”, “…if the cloud was not taken up…”, and “For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day…” Every single verse mentions this glory cloud.
Think about it. What the people couldn’t approach on the mountain, they now have living in their midst, and verse 38 says that they could all see it: “…in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all of their journeys.”
Remember, they feared even to hear the voice of this God speak to them from the mountain. They were prohibited from going near it, lest they be struck down and killed. Now this God—this fearful, wonderful, transcendent God—has made his home in their midst. The cloud has come down. The completion of the tabernacle represents the coming down of God’s glory from unapproachable Sinai into a tent in the midst of the camp. “You thought Sinai was amazing? Sinai’s coming to live in your neighborhood, and you’ll all see it.”
Would you be excited if Tom Izzo moved into your neighborhood? If you were in Hyde Park and the Obamas bought a house? If just a CostCo was coming to town? This is God! And not just any God! How much more amazing it is to have the imminence, nearness, and closeness of God.
It’s no great thing to have the closeness of God if God is chummy and in a big mess, just like we all are—if he feels bad all the time, loves us, and (aww, shucks) is trying to do his best to help us out. Of course that God’s going to be close. It’s also not unbelievable to have a God who is massive, distant, far away, and unapproachable. What is amazing—in fact, it’s the best news of the Bible—is that that God of thunder and lightning, of dread, awe, cloud, weight, heaviness, and glory, moves into the neighborhood.
Exodus 40 answers the one big question that has dogged the people of God throughout the book: “Will God really be with us?” God gives a resounding answer: “Yes! And not just any god. The God. The “I am who I am” God. The “I will be whom I will be” God. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. That sovereign God dwells in the tabernacle and lives in your midst.”
The Big Cliffhanger
There’s one big cliffhanger that’s yet to be resolved. After all of this good news, you notice that Moses cannot enter into the tabernacle. On one level, this makes sense. This is God’s house. The builder of a house doesn’t get to live in the house after the work is done. He doesn’t get a key and say, “Well, I hope you enjoy it. I’ll stop by any time I like.” He builds the house for someone else, and turns it over to its rightful owners. This is God’s house, and Moses just put it together.
But on the other hand, it seems like Moses (of all people) would have access to the cloud. Surely he would be welcome in the tabernacle. Remember that he had already experienced such intimacy with the Lord. Just think about these different occasions. In Exodus 24, Moses entered the cloud, went up on the mountain, and was on that mountain 40 days and 40 nights. Later, in Exodus 33, he did so again at a prototype of the Tent of Meeting: “When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses.” Or look at Exodus 34:5: “The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with [Moses] there…”
So why now, at the end of Exodus 40, do we read: “And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” He was on Mt. Sinai. He was in the little rendezvous tent. He saw God’s glory. But now, when it’s all built and the glory comes to live in the neighborhood, God says, “Moses, don’t come in.” He’s deliberately left on the outside, looking in.
How do we make sense of this? Do you recall one other time in Exodus when the presence of God barred entrance to a house. How about Exodus 12:33?
For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. Exodus 12:33
It was during the night of Passover. The presence of the Lord said to the destroyer, “You shall not enter this house, that the people of God might be kept safe.” So why does the presence of the Lord bar Moses from entering his house? For the very same reason. That the people of God might be kept safe. In Exodus 12, God was keeping his people safe on the inside. Now he’s keeping his people safe on the outside. God may be near, but he’s not cozy. His permanent presence is more than can be borne by even the holiest of men.
I think we are to understand that those occasions were exceptions to the rule for Moses in those moments. But now we see the fullness of the cloud inhabiting the tabernacle, as was the plan all along, and God says, “Don’t come in.” If you know the rest of your Bible, you would understand that the tabernacle (and later the temple) would be entered once a year, by the high priest on the Day of Atonement, to go into where the mercy seat, the Ark of the Covenant, and the glory of the Lord were residing.
The question that’s left to be answered is, “Do we have access to this God?” We see that he is with us, but do we have access? Can we get in? How will we live with him? This is why I said that this is a cliffhanger, like any good story.
You know how, at the end of the movie, when the credits are rolling, you feel satisfied: “That really tied this up, but I think they set us up for another sequel. What was Luke Skywalker doing there on top of that mountain, looking so haggard and old?” Similarly, God is in their midst, but Moses can’t come in. Nobody can come in. How are they going to live with this God in their midst if even Moses cannot come in? That’s why, right on the heels of Exodus, comes Leviticus:
The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting… Leviticus 1:1
God’s going to say something! Here is Pentateuch 3, and it picks up right where we left off: with the Lord speaking to Moses from the Tent of Meeting. God will speak to Moses for 48 days. How do we know it was 48 days? Because Numbers 10:11 tells us that the cloud finally lifted on the 20th day of the second month of the second year. Remember, when they left Egypt, that marked a new beginning. So, it was the first day of the first month of the first year. The tabernacle was completed very ceremoniously on the first day of the first month of the second year. Since they had a lunar calendar, a month was probably about 28 days. So 28 + 20 = 48 days of receiving all of the instructions that are in Leviticus 1-27 and Numbers 1-10. That’s what Moses gets before they leave Sinai.
What are they? Yes, they’re a lot of instructions, but principally, what is God telling Moses? Look at Leviticus 1: “Laws for Burnt Offerings.” Haven’t we had a wonderful time in Leviticus before? God will chiefly instruct his people about one thing: how to make atonement for sin. It’s no coincidence that Exodus 40, with the dwelling of God in the tabernacle, is followed by Leviticus 1 and laws for burnt offerings. Just when you thought boring got even more boring, it didn’t!
That’s the cliffhanger. God’s in our midst! What do we do? We’re still sinners. He’s still holy. Leviticus 1 says, “You need a sacrifice. If this is going to work, and God’s going to dwell in your midst, you’re going to need atonement.” Leviticus is part three in a bestselling series.
Of course, if you know your Bible, you know that Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy do not tie up all the loose ends, because Exodus is making way for more than just the rest of the Pentateuch: it’s making way for Christ.
The Lord Jesus is our Passover Lamb and divine Lawgiver. He went up on a mountain and gave the Sermon on the Mount. He’s like Moses: the new law-giver. He’s our manna in the wilderness, our water in the desert, our life-giving rock, our high-priest, our mediator, our intercessor, our mercy seat, our bloody sacrifice, and our holy tabernacle. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Just when you thought, “Wouldn’t it be so cool to be in the Old Testament? We could have been there and we would have seen the glory fill it!” No, the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. The glory cloud took on skin and bones, slept, ate, wept, died, rose again, and is coming once more. When the curtain was torn at the crucifixion, it symbolized that it is finished—it is enough. That cliffhanger in Exodus has finally been answered. The God who dwells in our midst is now the God of open access—not once a year by the High Priest, but every moment of every day for the rest of your life, for everyone who belongs to Jesus. Come in! You can go where Moses was not allowed to go.
It gets even better, because Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit, the glory cloud sent from the Father and the Son, now dwells in us. We are temples of the living God. You are the tabernacle. No more camping! In Christ, we not only have access to and atonement with God, and can see the glory of God; but we have the very presence of God living in us. God moved into the neighborhood, died for us, and said, “I will be your God and you will be my people. You can come anytime you like and stay as long as you want.”
Brothers and sisters, in all of the days and years ahead, remember this: the Spirit is in you. Christ died for you. God will be with you, now and always, to the very end of the age.
Let’s pray. Thy mercy, O God, is the theme of our song. Your grace is our boast, now and forever—that we, a sinful people, should be able to live with you by the sacrifice of your perfect Son. How can a holy God dwell in the midst of a sinful people? How can that glory cloud rest in us and among us? Only as we rest and have union and communion with Christ. We find all that we lack, all that we need, and all that we want in Christ. In him we see the fullness of God—the glory of God in the face of Christ. When we look upon him—the helpless babe, the miracle worker, the great teacher, and (preeminently) as the crucified Lord on the cross, the risen Savior, and the once and coming King—we can say, “Behold our God!” We pray in his name, amen.