The tabernacle is commanded to be reared, anointed, and consecrated, 1-12. Aaron and his sons to be sanctified, 13-15. Moses performs all things accordingly, 16-33. A cloud covers the tabernacle, 34-38.
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. 3 And you shall put in it the ark of the testimony and cover the ark with the veil. 4 And you shall bring in the table and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it. And you shall bring in the candlestick and light its lamps. 5 And you shall set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle. 6 And you shall set the altar of the burnt-offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. 7 And you shall set the basin between the tent of the congregation and the altar and shall put water in it. 8 And you shall set up the court all around and hang up the hanging at the court-gate. 9 And you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and shall hallow it and all its vessels, and it shall be holy. 10 And you shall anoint the altar of the burnt-offering and all its vessels and sanctify the altar, and it shall be an altar most holy. 11 And you shall anoint the basin and its foot and sanctify it. 12 And you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation and wash them with water. 13 And you shall put upon Aaron the holy garments, anoint him, and sanctify him so that he may minister to me in the priest's office. 14 And you shall bring his sons and clothe them with coats. 15 And you shall anoint them as you anointed their father so that they may minister to me in the priest's office, for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations." 16 Thus Moses did, according to all that the LORD commanded him. And he did so.
17 And it came to pass in the first month, in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. 18 And Moses reared up the tabernacle, fastened its sockets, set up its boards, put in its bars, and reared up its pillars. 19 And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent above upon it, as the LORD commanded Moses. 20 And he took and put the testimony into the ark, set the staffs on the ark, and put the mercy-seat above upon the ark. 21 And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, set up the veil of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony, as the LORD commanded Moses. 22 And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, outside the veil. 23 And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 24 And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward. 25 And he lit the lamps before the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses. 26 And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the veil, 27 And he burnt sweet incense on it, as the LORD commanded Moses. 28 And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle. 29 And he put the altar of burnt-offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt-offering and the food-offering, as the LORD commanded Moses. 30 And he set the basin between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there to wash with. 31 And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet in it. 32 When they went into the tent of the congregation and when they came near the altar, they washed, as the LORD commanded Moses. 33 And he reared up the court all around the tabernacle and the altar and set up the hanging of the court-gate. So Moses finished the work.
34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation because the cloud stayed upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey until the day that it was taken up. 38 So the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
Matthew Henry Commentary - Exodus, Chapter 40[➚]
[v.12-15] - Reference, Exodus 28:41; Numbers 25:13.
[v.15] - "throughout their generations" - That is, until Christ comes.
[v.20] - "the testimony" - This is referring to the Ten Commandments.
[v.32] - "as the LORD commanded Moses" - From John Gill's Exposition: "This phrase is near twenty times expressed in this and the preceding chapter, to show that everything was done by the workmen, and everything put in its proper place by Moses, exactly according to the will of God; no one pursuing his own fancy and private judgment, but all consulting the mind of God, and acting according to that."
[v.34a] - "a cloud covered the tent" - From John Gill's Exposition: "The outside of it; this cloud was the same with the pillar of cloud that went before the Israelites, as soon almost as they came out of Egypt; and led them through the Red Sea, and conducted them to Mount Sinai; only it now appeared in a different form, not erect as a pillar, but more expanded, so as to cover the tabernacle on the outside."
[v.34b] - "the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle" - From John Gill's Exposition: "The inside of it, not the most holy place only, but the holy place also: this was an uncommon brightness, luster, and splendor, a glorious stream of light, which the eye of man could not well bear to behold; such a glory filled the temple of Solomon at the dedication of that (1st Kings 8:11), and was an emblem of Christ, the brightness of his Father's glory, dwelling in and filling the tabernacle of the human nature, where the Godhead, the Shechinah, the divine Majesty, dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews, ch. 1; 3rd John 1:14)."
[v.36-38a] - From Robert Hawker's Commentary: "Precious tokens these of the divine presence, and of the divine favor. Isaiah 4:5-6. But how much more precious, since the Lord Jesus came and tabernacled among his people, in the likeness of our flesh? John 1:14; Galatians 4:14. The pillar of cloud moving before them was a delightful testimony of what the people were to do, and a sure guide for them to follow. But how much greater our privileges, who are under the leadings and teachings of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14. How solemn must have been this entry of the Shechinah, the glory of the Lord, into the court, and through the court, towards the altar and mercy-seat. But Reader! how sweet that Scripture, Christ has not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us. Hebrews 9:24."
[v.36-38b] - Reference, Numbers 9:15-23.
[v.36] - "the children of Israel went onward" - From John Gill's Exposition: "The motion of the cloud was a direction to set forward and continue their journey as long as it lasted; but when it rested and abode upon the tabernacle, then they stopped and rested also, as is suggested in the following verse (verse 37), thus the saints are to be followers of God as dear children, and to follow the Lamb wherever he goes or directs, and walk after the Spirit, the dictates and directions thereof; so the wheels in Ezekiel's vision went and stood, as did the living creatures, and the spirit in them (Ezekiel 1:19-21)."
[v.38] - From John Gill's Exposition: "Whether by night or by day; for in hot countries they travel much by night; and as the cloud was both a shelter from the heat of the sun in the daytime, and a direction of their way; so the fire by night was of the same use for direction, and might be also terrifying to wild beasts in the wilderness, who are afraid of fire, and so be a security to the Israelites from them; all which is an emblem of the guidance and protection, light, joy, and comfort, the church of God has from his gracious presence, while in the wilderness of this world (see Isaiah 4:5-6)."