The story of the Exodus is a staggering glimpse into the covenant keeping character of our sovereign God. As we read the story, we find God raising up a prophet who would lead his people out of Egypt. From page to page, we find God’s sovereign power and his sovereign grace put on vivid display.
As the story of the Exodus comes to a close, the emphasis is placed upon the worship of God and the detailed instructions given to Moses regarding the tabernacle. Each piece of the tabernacle was to be constructed with careful detail and precision. The type of wood used and the color of the fabric was essential. Why was this so very important? Because, as the people would see, the very presence of God once thundering at Sinai would come to dwell among his people in the tabernacle.
Yet, as we continue to turn the pages of Scripture, we must not read the story of the Exodus as an individual book that’s somehow disconnected from the whole of Scripture. Just as the entire Bible points us to Jesus, the story of Christmas is not to be relegated to a New Testament story. The birth of Jesus was prophesied hundreds of years before he was delivered in a stable in Bethlehem. The more we learn, the more we come to see how the tabernacle of Exodus is very much connected to the baby who was born of Mary, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and laid in a manger.
How is the incarnation of Jesus connected to the tabernacle of Moses’ day? Consider the words of John’s Gospel:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
When John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” we should immediately see the picture of the tabernacle not made with human hands. He goes on to say, “and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In Exodus, we read the following:
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34).
Just as the Israelites were amazed at the sight of the glory of the LORD filling the tabernacle in Moses’ day, so too were the angels, the shepherds, and Mary and Joseph as the glory of the Lord filled the body of Jesus. In his body, very God of very God tabernacled among his people. The I Am of the Old Testament had come to dwell among his people. As Joel Beeke writes, “The incarnation was not an act of subtraction in which the Son cast off his deity, but one of addition in which he embraced our humanity.” 
Even more shocking than the sight of the glowing tabernacle among the Israelites when the glory of God descended in Moses’ day was the nearness of the Lord, full of glory, and dwelling among his people. No barriers. No walls. No separation. Yet, he came unto his own, and his own people did not receive him.
As we celebrate the incarnation, the grand miracle of Jesus’ birth, we are mindful of the fact that Jesus was born to deliver his people. The story of Christmas is the story of salvation. Charles Wesley penned these words (“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”), “Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free.”
- Joel Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology, Vo. 2: Man and Christ, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2020), 789.