A Good Way to Start a New Year

Title: A Good Way to Start a New Year

Bible Book: Exodus 40 : 16-17

Author: Terry Trivette

Subject: New Year; Resolutions; Tabernacle; Jesus, Walking with


[Editor's Note: This message was preaching in 2010, but the truths apply to any year!]

If you are trying to decide on a resolution for 2010, might I suggest dying? I know death is not for everybody in the upcoming year, but if you want to take advantage of a rare tax break, then 2010 is your year. If our beloved congress fails to pass a new estate tax law by the end of this year, which is likely, then there will be no estate tax at all in 2010. What this means is that if your heirs stand to inherit more than $3.5 million (less than that is already exempt), then you can “check out” in 2010 without giving the government any of your money. If, however, your estate is not quite ready to be handed over, or you just don’t plan on dying in the coming year, then there are some other resolutions that could make for a good start to the New Year.

In Exodus 40, we read about a new year that started with a monumental event for the children of Israel. Verse 17 records that, “…in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.”

If you know much at all about the Old Testament, and the history of Israel, then you understand the importance of the Tabernacle, and the significance of this particular day. This closing chapter of Exodus focuses almost exclusively on the figure of the Moses and the raising of the Tabernacle.

As we look at this passage, we find some examples and some pictures of the kinds of things we should strive for in the coming year. Let’s consider Moses, and his work with the Tabernacle, and draw out some things you can do to start 2010 off in the right direction. First of all, Moses challenges you to:


Look back up at the opening verse of this chapter. There we read: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying…” The next 14 verses are the instructions that the Lord gave to Moses regarding the Tabernacle. Now look at verse 16. It says, “Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.” Moses received a word from God, and he obeyed that word.

In our Bibles, we carry the living, legitimate Word of God. What He expects from us and what He asks of us is clearly laid out in both the Old and New Testaments. Moses reminds us of the kind of response we should have to what we hear from God. At the outset of this year, we should all decide, as Moses did, to obey the Word of God.

Notice a couple of things about Moses’ response to God’s Word. Notice first of all:

A. How carefully Moses obeyed

Notice verse 16 says that Moses did what He did “according to all that the Lord commanded him”. In other words, Moses did exactly what God had asked him to do. This care in obedience is seen in the fact that 7 times in 14 verses we find the phrase, “…as the Lord commanded Moses.” Moses was careful about what he did in obedience to the Lord. He followed the instructions exactly.

There are many Christians today who would say that they want to obey God, but they want to do so only on their terms. For instance, they will gladly love their neighbors, just as long as their neighbors are easy to love, and do nothing that is irritating or unlovely. They will give some of their money to God; they just aren’t going to do anything crazy like give ten or more percent. They will certainly give some consideration to obeying God; but they will not be careful about obeying God. If they do obey Him, then that is great. However, if they fall short of doing exactly what He asks, they won’t lose any sleep over it.

What if your doctor practiced medicine the way you followed God? Your sickness calls for an injection of 30 mg of a particular medicine, but your doctor just kind of eyeballs how much he puts into the syringe.

Does being careful matter then? If you value your life it does. Likewise, Moses reminds us that we must be careful in how we obey God.

Notice not only how carefully Moses obeyed, but notice also:

B. How completely Moses obeyed

Verse 16 says that Moses did “…all that the LORD commanded him.”

Don’t overlook that little word “all”. Moses carried out carefully and completely the instructions he was given regarding the Tabernacle.

Some people treat the Bible like a buffet, where they can pick and choose which instructions they want to keep, and which verses they prefer to ignore. While it is true that there are parts of Scripture and specific commands that apply only to particular times and places, that does not change the fact that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

When we come to the New Testament, we find Jesus saying in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” In the context of the Christian life, what that means is that if we truly love Christ, we cannot choose to obey one Scriptural principle, while ignoring another.

Someone may say, “I like Ephesians 5:19, ‘Be not drunk with wine’. I keep that one. I never get drunk.” Yet that same person may gossip, and criticize, and slander, and completely disregard the commandment from Ephesians 4:29. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

The point I am making is that in Moses we are reminded that the Bible is not a book of friendly suggestions. It is God’s Word to His people. It is “a perfect treasure of divine instruction”[i] Therefore, in the coming year, we should all decide that we are going to respond to it as carefully and completely as we can, by the help of God’s grace.

Notice a second principle we draw from this passage. As the New Year approaches, you should not only decide your response to the Scriptures, but notice also further that you should:


Exodus 40 deals almost exclusively with the raising of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle served as a sort of mobile temple for the children of Israel as they traveled through the wilderness. Almost 13 full chapters are given to the description and instruction of this fascinating structure. It was a key part of Israel’s history, and it is a very important part of Biblical revelation. As we look back at the Tabernacle from the perspective of the New Testament, we are mindful that it was more than just a temporary temple or a tent.

Dr. Stephen Olford explains the importance of the Tabernacle to the Christian. He says, “To the anointed eye, every detail of the tabernacle points to some aspect of the Person and work of our Savior.”[ii] As we read the intricate details of the Tabernacle as they were handed down to Moses, and as we read of the work of raising it, we are mindful of our relationship and responsibility to the Fulfillment of the Tabernacle - the Lord Jesus.

In 2010, we should be working everyday to deepen our relationship with the Savior. Using the Tabernacle as our backdrop, consider a couple of things you can do to strengthen your relationship with the Lord. First of all, you can:

A. Learn more of the person of Jesus

There is no way I can thoroughly deal with all the pictures and types of the Tabernacle in just one part of one message. However, as we scan through the details of the Tabernacle in chapter 40, I do want you to see some of the shadows and glances of the person of our Savior and Lord. For instance, in verse 18, we see something about the framework of the Tabernacle. It says, “And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars.” If you study in detail this framework, you will find that it was designed in such a way as to be unshakably steady and strong. Likewise, those who rest their faith on the foundation of Jesus find Him to be solid, steady, and eternally sure. He is, as Jude says, “…able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”

In this chapter, we see not only the framework of the Tabernacle, but also we see the furniture of the Tabernacle. In specific order, Moses put into the Tabernacle furnishings such as: the Ark of the Covenant, the Table for the bread, the candlestick, the altar of incense, the laver, and the altar of sacrifice.

In each of these items, and in the purpose they served, we find another aspect of truth relating to the person and the purpose of Jesus Christ. As you study all the intimate details of the Tabernacle, what you find is that like a diamond through a jeweler’s loop, Jesus has more facets to His character than your eye can immediately perceive. There is more to Him than you could ever learn in a thousand lifetimes, and yet it should be your goal to learn and discover a little more of Him with each passing day.

In 2010, your prayer ought to be:

More, more about Jesus,

More, more about Jesus,

More of His saving fullness see,

More of His love who died for me[iii]

As you seek to deepen your relationship with Savior, you can not only seek to learn more of the person of Jesus, but notice also further that you can:

B. Live more in the presence of Jesus

When you look at the Tabernacle up close, you see details and nuances that are fascinating and inspiring. However, when you back up, and just consider the Tabernacle as a whole, it points to a more fundamental truth.

What was the Tabernacle? It was the place where the people could meet with God. In the Tabernacle, the priests lived and worked in the literal presence of God. If you really want to deepen your relationship with Christ in the coming year, remember the truth of the Tabernacle, and spend more time in the presence of Christ. Don’t rush off in the mornings without sitting down with Jesus, and worshipping and praying in His sweet presence. As you go about your day, recognize that the Lord Jesus is near, and fellowship with Him. Spend every moment you can consciously living in the presence of Jesus!

One of the classic works of Christian literature is a little book called “Practice of the Presence of God”. It is a collection of teachings and letters by a monk known simply as Brother Lawrence. In one of his letters he says, “Were I a preacher, I would, above all other things preach the practice of the presence of God. Were I a director, I would advise all the world to do it…” He goes on and says, “Resolve to spend the rest of your days in His sacred presence…”

If in the coming year, you desire to deepen your relationship with the Savior, then you must resolve to spend more of your moments consciously living in the presence of Jesus.

Returning to Exodus 40, we see a third principle that ought to be among your goals for the New Year. You should not only decide your response to the Scriptures, and deepen your relationship to the Savior, but you should further seek to:


Look down toward the close of chapter 40, and note what took place after Moses had completed the construction of the Tabernacle. Verse 34 says, “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

After the Tabernacle was completed according to the instructions God had given, His visible presence moved into that tent. As we see God’s presence inside the Tabernacle, we are reminded of His presence in us, through the person of the Holy Spirit. Just as God dwelt in the Holy of Holies inside the Tabernacle, God the Holy Spirit has made our bodies His Temple.

Coming into a New Year, it is good for us to be reminded of how much we need the ministry of the Spirit within us. Notice a couple of things we must rely upon to Spirit to provide for us in the coming year. First of all:

A. We need His glory to fill us

Twice in this passage, at the close of both verses 34 and 35, we find the phrase, “…and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” Verse 35 indicates that the presence and glory of God so filled the Tabernacle that, “…Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation.” The Tabernacle was so filled with God and His glory there was no room for anyone or anything else.

In Ephesians 5:18, Paul commands us to, “…be filled with the Spirit.” That command is in the continual present tense. Literally, it says, “be ye being filled.” In 2010, our prayer should be that each and every day the Spirit of God would continually, and without interruption fill our lives. Our desire should be for the Spirit of God to so fill us and control us that, like the Tabernacle of old, the glory of God would be visible through our lives.

The old preacher, Vance Havner once said, “Some are not filled because they must first be emptied. Even God cannot fill what is already full.”

At the outset of 2010 it would do us all some good to ask God to empty our lives of that which robs His glory, and to fill us with Him that reveals God’s glory. We must determine our reliance on the Spirit, not only because we need His glory to fill us, but notice also further that:

B. We need His guidance to further us

Look again at our text, and notice how the chapter closes. Verse 36 says, “And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:”

Verse 37 explains that if the same cloud did not move, the children of Israel stayed still. The point is that the same glory that filled the Tabernacle was the same glory that served as the guidance and direction for the people. In much the same way, the Spirit that fills us also leads us. When He is in control, we have the direct guidance of heaven.

Who knows what 2010 will hold? I am certain there will be difficult decisions, and unforeseen changes in different areas of life. However, regardless of what twists and turns the unknown path of the future may hold, the God who lives in our bodies is the God who knows all things. If we are sensitive to His leading, we have no reason to fear what might be just over the horizon of tomorrow.

He leadeth me, O blessed thought,

O words with heavenly comfort wrought,

What ere I do, where I be,

Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me!

Of all the things we will need in the coming days, none is more precious and more essential than the leadership of God upon our lives. For that reason we must determine our absolute surrender and reliance upon the Holy Spirit. If He can lead several million Jews through a wilderness, He can lead one individual through a New Year. Unfortunately, far too many people in the world will start the New Year off with little more than a bad hangover and a list of resolutions they will break before the first week of January is over. Rather than wild parties and empty promises, those who know Christ should approach the New Year with a much different perspective.

We should see the New Year as the next step in our walk with Jesus and another year closer to His return. With that in mind, we can learn from the way Moses and the children of Israel began the year recorded in Exodus 40. With Moses, let us recommit ourselves to obedience to the Word of God. Let us refocus ourselves on our relationship with the Son of God. And, let us rededicate ourselves to living in the fullness of the Spirit of God.

If we can do that, it will be a good way to start the New Year.


[i] The Baptist Faith and Message, Article 1: The Scriptures

[ii] Olford, Stephen F., The Tabernacle: Camping with God, (Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, 1971), p. 22

[iii] John R. Sweney, More About Jesus

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