The Finished Work

Exodus 40:1-34

Were you ever given a job to complete and didn’t complete it? How did you feel? Satisfaction and pleasure come from a job well done!

Chapter 40 of Exodus revolves around Moses FINISHING THE WORK by erecting Tabernacle just as the LORD commanded. Eight times in this chapter it is said that Moses did AS THE LORD COMMANDED. Therefore, it should not surprise us that the final chapter of Exodus begins with a command from Yahweh. Exodus 40:1-2—

Then the LORD said to Moses: “Set up the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the first month.

Fourteen days short of a year have passed since the Tenth Plague—the Passover—that secured Israel’s redemption from Egypt. About fifty days were spent traveling to Mt. Sinai since they heard Yahweh speak the Ten Commandments on the Day of Pentecost, which falls fifty days after Passover. The people waited at the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses spent two forty-day periods on the mountain. So that leaves about six months to construct the parts and furnishings for the Tabernacle and the Priesthood vestures just as the LORD commanded.

The point of verses 3-29 is that Moses erected the Tabernacle just as the LORD commanded. Let’s pick up the account at Exodus 40:30-33—

He placed the basin between the Tent of Meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing, and Moses and Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet. They washed whenever they entered the Tent of Meeting or approached the altar, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.

One cannot read these words without speculating on the sense of fulfilment that must have flooded Moses’ soul for a job well done! Despite all obstacles, in the space of two years, Moses had returned from Egypt to the very same mountain, where from the burning bush, God spoke to him, saying—

Do not come any closer, take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.

Once again Moses stands on holy ground—this time inside the Tabernacle! Now he takes off his sandals and washes his feet and hands and approaches God by innocent blood of an animal sacrificed on the Bronze Altar. Secured by the blood and washing away of sin—in the forgiveness of the atonement and its holiness— he enters into the presence of God.

AND SO MOSES FINISHED THE WORK! What work?

He was God’s instrument in securing the mighty deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt; he brought them safely through the Red Sea, and into the desert of Sinai. There Moses mediated the Covenant and its stipulations and now this man of God has erected the portable sanctuary that guaranteed Yahweh’s continuing presence beyond the Sinai.

When Moses was initially called by God, he requested some sign of validation, but received only the vague and indefinite assurance recorded in Exodus 3:12—

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

Now the sign has been fulfilled, and the first stage of God’s plan of redemption is completed. Although there were yet other journeys to begin and further trials ahead, there was nonetheless a note of finality in the words—AND SO MOSES FINISHED THE WORK.

How desirable that this might be said of every person called into God’s grace that he or she might say, “AND I FINISHED THE WORK.” Remember what Ephesians 2:8-10 says—

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Just as God had prepared good works in advance for Moses to do, He has prepared good works for each of us to do. The Israelites had completed their task in the construction of the Tabernacle. Exodus 39:42-43—

The Israelites had done all the work just as the LORD had commanded Moses. Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the LORD had commanded. So Moses blessed them.

Moses foreshadows our Lord Jesus Christ at the Judgment Seat inspecting the work of Christians—not for salvation, but for reward.

Like the craftsmen of Israel, every born-again believer is endowed with the Holy Spirit and gifts to build the Church—the holy priesthood of God. Our job performance will be subjected to Christ’s inspection and evaluation according to 2 Corinthians 5:10—

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

1 Corinthians 3:10-20 describes inspection and evaluation process—

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will
suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

This passage is clear-cut. The builders are the pastor and members of the LOCAL CHURCH, which is compared to a BUILDING, or a TEMPLE. Like Moses the pastor is responsible for the quality of work. To be sure that the materials in temple are used at their very best.

The apostle Paul saw himself as the builder God used to lay the foundation at Corinth, and that foundation was Christ as preached in the Gospel. Along came Pastor Apollos, who built upon that foundation, and other pastors followed him—warning that “each one should be careful how he builds.”

THREE KINDS OF WORKERS IN THE CHURCH ARE IDENTIFIED.

THE FIRST IS THE WISE BUILDER uses lasting materials (gold, silver, precious stones) and not the cheap, shabby things of the world (wood, hay, stubble). This builder seeks to honor Christ, aiming for quality that will glorify Christ, not quantity that will win the praise of men. Wise builders use the Word of God, paying attention to every detail. They pray and depend on the Spirit—as a result, their work is lasting. When the fire tries their work in glory, it will stand!

THE SECOND IS THE WORLDLY BUILDER uses materials that cannot stand the test. This so-called Christian worker is in a hurry to build a crowd, but does not take time to build a church. The materials come from the world—wood, hay, straw. These workers major in everything but the careful instruction of the Word of God. They build the church on the enticing things and rejoice in bigger statistics. When this ministry is tested in eternity, it will burn up. The worker will be saved, but there will be no reward.

THE THIRD IS NOT A BUILDER, BUT A DESTROYER tears down the church instead of building it. It takes not talent or intelligence to tear something down; even a child can destroy something. Sad to say, there are Christian workers whose selfish ministries destroy local churches instead of building them up. God has a severe judgment awaiting them!

Keep in mind that Paul is saying all this to teach Christians that we have a tremendous task of building the local church for God’s glory. The church member who loves the Word, obeys the pastor’s teaching of the Word, and seeks to keep the local church at its best spiritually is helping to build with gold, silver, and precious stones.

The Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal that many great churches were not great at all! Having been built with the ways of the world, the flesh, and the Devil—wood, hay and straw—they will not withstand the blazing fire of Christ’s eyes.

Chapters 2-3 of Revelation are reports from Christ the Judge, who has inspected and evaluated seven local churches in Asia Minor with His eyes of blazing fire. The seventh church foreshadows the majority of the churches of the last days. Revelation 3:14-20—

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

The name LAODICEA means THE RULE OF THE PEOPLE and suggests a democratic church that no longer follows spiritual leaders and the authority of the Word of God.

The church is lukewarm, a condition that comes from mixing hot and cold. It is a church with truth that has been diluted with error. The tragedy is that this church is RICH and knows not that it is POOR, PITIFUL, BLIND, and NAKED! What a picture of the apostate church of today, with its prestige, wealth, and political power, yet all the while spiritually poor.

Jesus stands outside the door of the lukewarm church. This church has everything, but Christ! He is willing to come into the life of one person, if that person will but invite Him. How tragic that a church can become so lukewarm and proud that Christ has to leave and stand outside. With all their activities, the people have grown totally indifferent toward Christ. He is left outside their plans and programs, and their hearts. How did this happen?

They did not pay attention to the details! Jesus said in John 15:10—

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Like the Church of Ephesus, lukewarm churches do not remain in Christ’s love because they do not obey His commands—they have abandoned the details of His words to build the church in the ways of the world, the flesh and the devil. They have chosen wood, hay and straw!

When churches stop listening to the voice of the Spirit through the Word and start listening to the voices of false teachers, they begin to turn away from the Truth. Preaching and teaching of the Scriptures with careful instruction and patience looses its appeal in the glamour of fleshly, worldly, and devilish ways. The lukewarm heart desires any and everything over listening to the Bible carefully explained!

What Jesus said in John 15:10 is foundational—

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

When Jesus entered the world, taking on human likeness, He subordinated Himself to the Heavenly Father’s will and commands. We discover this fact in the very first words of Jesus recorded in the NT. At age twelve, Jesus said to His parents when they found Him in the Temple—

Why did you look for me? Did you not know that I must be busy in the affairs of My Father?

By age twelve, Jesus knew that He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, that is the OT. In doing so, He obeyed every command, every detail written therein concerning His first coming. Righteousness, godliness and holiness are fleshed out in life. Therefore, He truly could say things to the religious leaders like John 5:39-40 —

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

What a ridiculous statement that would have been if Jesus had NOT done just as the LORD commanded.

Jesus began His public ministry by being baptized by John the Baptizer. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Here the Father verified that His Son up to this point in time had obeyed everything just as He commanded.

Then near the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus revealed His glory to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, and a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

In between those two events, Jesus life was wide open for inspection. He lived life in a FISH BOWL! His enemies, friends, and those who were trying to figure Him out—all were watching every move and listening to every word. And no accusations could be brought against Him. At the end, both Pilate and Judas declared Jesus was an innocent man!

If Jesus had failed in one jot or title of the Law, you can rest assured that Satan the adversary and accuser would have made it known! But Jesus did just as the LORD commanded!

Was it easy to obey God’s commands? NO! From the very beginning of His ministry, He was engrossed in a spiritual battle! Following His baptism, Mark 1:12-13 tells us—

At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

What happen in that desert? Jesus was TEMPTED BY SATAN and TESTED BY GOD. When Jesus came into the world as a baby, He began just like every other baby, except He remained God and did not inherit the sin nature from Adam. He was born with the mind of a baby—blank—needing to be filled with all kinds of information. Luke 2:52 records—

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

In other words, Jesus had to assimilate knowledge and learn just like us while growing up!

What would have Jesus education been like in the first century? As soon as Jewish children could talk they were made to commit to memory the “SHEMA” the Jewish creed consisting of nineteen verses from Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41. As they grew older (boys at least) were taught to write them out.

When six years of age boys were sent to school. Schools in most cases were attached to the synagogues in town. Compulsory attendance at schools, according to the Talmud, dates from about 75 B.C. From this we infer that Jesus as a child also attended the village school of Nazareth.

Besides, the education at school, the Jewish child was educated in his father’s house, in the synagogue and the workshop. The character of education among the Jews was exclusively religious and patriotic. Its aim being to stimulate the conscience and engrave upon it the Law of God.

As was the custom, Jesus followed the trade of His earthly father—a TEKTON— a carpenter or builder, possibly of wood and stone as the houses were built of stone. There was also a large demand for wooden farm implements and boats in the region of Galilee. More than likely, Jesus was a skilled builder both with wood and stone.

What an appropriate trade for the One who said, “I will build my church” and “I go to prepare a place for you.”

The Bible tells us that it was Jesus custom to attended synagogue every Sabbath. There He would have heard the OT Scriptures read and explained by the Rabbis. No one ever listened to the Word of God proclaimed like Jesus! Imagine, He could not miss one single detail! He had to learn as well as put into practice every command. There could be no tuning-in and tuning-out of the Rabbi’s teaching and preaching! He hung on every word! For every word, and every detail was extremely important!

There’s absolutely nothing more applicable to life than the Word of God! Now in the desert, Jesus is being tempted by Satan and put to the test by God. Had He attention to the Scriptures? Had He hidden God’s Word in His heart that He might not sin against Him? Was He qualified to be our Lord and Savior?

The Devil pitched three temptations at Jesus:

1. You’re hungry, Jesus, turn these stones to bread.
2. Bow down and worship me and all the kingdoms of the world are yours.
3. Throw yourself down from the highest point of the Temple and let God’s angels rescue you.

How did Jesus respond to these temptations? With quotes from the OT:

1. It is written: “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
2. It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”
3. It is written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

It’s good Jesus didn’t skip synagogue the days those truths were taught! Notice it was knowing the Scriptures (not singing, entertainment or any other activity) that prepared Jesus to defeat the Devil’s schemes! He immediately knew when Satan misquoted and misused Scripture. And He used the sword of the Spirt, which is the Word of God, to defeat the Devil.

I wonder how many hours, days, weeks, months, years Jesus spent pondering all the details of the Tabernacle? Being a carpenter, the Tabernacle itself would have been intriguing to a craftsman such as Himself. How exciting it must have been that very moment when He realized it was a self-portrait of Himself! The Ark of the Testimony, the Curtain, the Table of the Bread of the Presence, the Lampstand, the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Bronze Basin, the Curtains—all of it—a picture of Himself—every detail revealing His righteousness, deity, humanity, and His once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Like Moses, Jesus was prepared to FINISHED THE WORK!

Leaving the Upper Room, we hear Jesus tell His Father in John 17:4—

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

A short time later, we hear Him praying in Gethsemane—

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

At 3 p.m. the next day, we see Jesus hanging on the Cross, and we hear Him tell His Father, “IT IS FINISHED.”

Everything the Tabernacle pictured regarding Christ’s atonement for sin and giving believers access into the presence of God is completed! Done! Finished! And we are told (in Hebrews 3:3-6) that Moses’ finished work is a foreshadowing of Christ as well as Christians and the Church—

Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

In Moses we have the SHADOWS and in Christ we have the LIGHT. The shadow cast from the Cross is seen as Moses finished the work of the Tabernacle and the Light that cast that shadow shoots from the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

At the Cross, the OT and NT meet. People in OT times were saved by faith just as people today. OT saints believed in the atonement of sins that was provided in the Tabernacle until this atonement was completed in Christ on the Cross. This continuity of faith that tied together the people of God under both Covenants. OT faith looked forward to the finished work of Christ on the Cross and NT faith looks back to it.

The Tabernacle erected in the desert is symbolic of Christ’s finished work on the Cross. Then we read in Exodus 40:34—

Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

The glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle—symbolic of the Holy Spirit filling Christ, the Christian, and the Church.

Yahweh had commanded Moses in Exodus 40:9—

Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy.

THE ANOINTING OIL symbolizes the HOLY SPIRIT in the life of Christ, the Christian and the Church also. Acts 10:37-38 states—

You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

The apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22—

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Christ’s finished work on the Cross made possible for our hearts to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-7 explains that the anointing and filling of the Spirit depended upon the FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST—

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

It is the finished work of Christ that saves us, not the righteous things we have done! Thank the LORD our hope of eternal life does not depend upon on our works, but upon God’s mercy in the finished work of Christ.

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