The declaration of the Ten Commandments by Yahweh Himself, the ceremony of the covenant and the descent of Moses from Mt. Sinai with the two stone tablets of the testimony were decisive moments in Israel’s history. But if they were the central theme of the book of Exodus, it would have finished at the end of chapter 20, chapter 24 or after 34.
But since the central and most urgent theme of the book of Exodus is the Presence of Yahweh and His dwelling in the midst of the Israelites, the book ends with chapter 40.
When everything is set up, sanctified and consecrated in agreement with Yahweh’s instructions, He comes to dwell with them: “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34). Yahweh Himself is going to shepherd them to the land promised to Abraham: “Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up (Exodus 40:36-37). And at any moment, in the midst of their anxieties, in their celebrations, in broad daylight or after midnight, any Israelite could walk out of his tent, look toward the center of the camp and see the protecting, providing and forgiving Presence of his God: “For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys (Exodus 40:38).