What does it say?
Israel’s rebellion brought the prospect of losing God’s presence (Exo 33). Moses meets with God in an assembly tent or Tabernacle of the Congregation. This is not the Tabernacle, but a temporary spiritual meeting point. Moses asks for and receives a greater understanding of God’s person, and has a limited vision of the pre-incarnate Christ. Notice the predominance of the word grace. God responds in grace to Israel’s sin and Moses’ prayer.
In grace, God again calls Moses up to the mountaintop, where he renews the covenant and replaces the two tablets of the Law that Moses broke in anger (Exo 34). Moses spends 40 days in God’s presence and, in his descent, literally glows to the degree he veils his face. Paul describes this in 2 Cor 3.
God’s people allow him to stir their hearts and enthusiastically give what is needed for the tabernacle construction (Exo 35). God also stirs up specially skilled and gifted people that are necessary for the work, and grants them wisdom to do his will.
What does it mean?
Our rebellion cuts us off from God’s presence, but it does not nullify God’s mission. We need God; he does not need us. He will do what he has planned. Our participation with him is a privilege. What we see here teaches us that God wants to bless, empower and use us to accomplish his will. God delights to use skilled people of all kinds and grant them wisdom to use their gifts for his glory.
Never forget that this is not an isolated historical event from Israel’s history, and it is even more than an illustration of our coming redemption through Jesus Christ; this is the continuing story of God’s redemption and restoration of creation. This is a single story threaded through the human fabric of history.
How will I respond?
Does God use me in spite of myself, in spite of my sin and rebellion? What could happen if I turned over total control of my life to him? What would that look like? Your commitment to read through the Bible chronologically in a year is great first step in learning to allow God to mature you. Our relationship with him grows as we spend time in his word and prayer. Keep at it! Don’t grow tired or discouraged. Israel rebelled because they could not wait for Moses to come down from the mount. Is there a specific matter about which you are impatient waiting for God to answer? Why not let him know now that you will wait for him.