Exodus 40.16-21,34-38; Ps 83; Matthew 13.47-53
Chapters 25-31 of Exodus define the regulations for the worship of God, and Chapters 36-40 describe, in remarkably parallel fashion, the way these regulations were minutely carried out. ‘Moses did exactly as the Lord had directed him’ the text declares.
True worship, though, is more than mere legalism but involves the transformation of our inner selves, our hearts. [cf John 4.23-24] God’s instructions weren’t given to a settled people but to a people on the move. They had been led out of Egypt but had not yet been brought to the land promised to them. [Exodus 3.17] Forty years—more than a generation—the freed slaves would have to wander in the wilderness before their descendants would be able to take possession of that promised land. [Psalm 94.10-11; cf Deuteronomy 8.7-10]
Yet it isn’t the case that we can only worship God when we have reached perfection. The wilderness years were years of formation for Israel, transformation from a motley assortment of enslaved people into a mature nation. The journey is as important as the destination, and even whilst we remain on the road we open our ears to hear the Word of God and we offer in response our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the God whose glory fills the places where with earnest and humble hearts we seek him.