Friday, March 03, 2023

2023.03.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 31

Read Exodus 31

Questions from the Scripture text: Who spoke to whom in Exodus 31:1? Whom did He tell Moses to see (Exodus 31:2)? How does He specify which Bezalel? With what has Yahweh filled him (Exodus 31:3)? What four abilities has the Spirit given him? To make what (Exodus 31:4)? Out of which five materials, especially (Exodus 31:4-5)? Whom else does Exodus 31:6 name? And what has Yahweh done to Aholiab’s heart? And to whom else’s hearts? In order that they may make what sorts of things? Which three specific things in Exodus 31:7? And what nine other furnishings (Exodus 31:8-9)? And what else, for whom (Exodus 31:10)? And finally what two things (Exodus 31:11)? What determines what they should do/make? Who spoke to whom in Exodus 31:12? To whom is Moses to speak (Exodus 31:13)? Whose does He say the Sabbath is? What does He say that it is between whom? How long? So that they may know what? What therefore shall they do (Exodus 31:14)? Why? What must be done to those who profane them? To how many of them must this be done? Why must they be thus put to death? What shall be done on what days (Exodus 31:15)? How is the seventh different? What shall be done to how many of those who do work on the Sabbath day? Who must keep and observe (do) what (Exodus 31:16)? As what? How does the Sabbath function in Exodus 31:17? Why—what two things had Yahweh done? What does this Sabbath instruction conclude (Exodus 31:18)? What does Yahweh now give Moses? Of what are they made? With what were they written?

What is the tabernacle, and its construction process, accomplishing? Exodus 31 looks forward to the evening devotional on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eighteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that that the tabernacle and its construction process communicated a restoration of imaging God and fellowshipping with Him.

Imaging God in workExodus 31:1-11. The Lord could have spoken a tabernacle into existence, the way that He spoke the world into existence (cf. Exodus 31:17) or even produced the two tablets in Exodus 31:18. But He has instead spoken to Moses (Exodus 31:1Exodus 31:12) and the children of Israel (Exodus 31:13) for their working/making of the tabernacle. This verb (translated variously as “do”/”make”/”work”) is the key word in Exodus 31:4Exodus 31:5Exodus 31:6, and Exodus 31:11

For this work, He has given a special distribution of His Spirit. Only by the merciful upholding of the Spirit of God can any creature do anything. But just as the Holy Spirit has a special work that He does in making us alive (cf. Romans 8:4–5, Galatians 5:25) and in producing in us the character of Christ (cf. Romans 8:9–12, Galatians 5:22–24), the Lord here names a special work of the Spirit in Bezalel (Exodus 31:2-3), and Aholiab and all the wise artisans (Exodus 31:6). 

For the making of all that has been commanded (Exodus 31:6Exodus 31:11), the Lord Himself will give them to image Him in a special way. He will give wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and all working (Exodus 31:3).

Imaging God in worshipExodus 31:12-18. It is this “working”/”workmanship” that ties Exodus 31:1-11 to Exodus 31:12-18. The “workmanship” at the end of Exodus 31:3 and Exodus 31:4 is the same word as “work” at the beginning of Exodus 31:15 (different than the do/make/work word mentioned earlier). Even during the tabernacle construction, the Sabbath is to be kept. How often believers self-excuse Sabbath-breaking for things because they consider them to be “church-related,” but the tabernacle-construction-directions conclude with a vehement demand for the death penalty for anyone who works on the tabernacle on the Sabbath!

This is because the Sabbaths are “My” Sabbaths (Exodus 31:13). God Himself “rested and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:17) not because He needed to (of course, He needs nothing!) but so that His Sabbath would also be “holy to you” (Exodus 31:14). For they are consecrated/sanctified by Yahweh Himself (Exodus 31:13). And the Sabbath is a sign between the holy Lord and them whom He has made holy (verse 13). They who are imaging Him now in work must image Him all the more in the purpose of that work: resting in the covenant fellowship they have with Him.

When they keep the Sabbath (Exodus 31:16), it is not work that they do but the Sabbath itself that they “work” (verse 16, where the word “observe” is translating the same do/make/work word as throughout the passage). 

This is a sign between Yahweh and His people (Exodus 31:13Exodus 31:17).  He is theirs, and they are His. He has made covenant with them. He Himself makes the tablets of the Testimony (Exodus 31:18) to put in the ark of the Testimony (Exodus 31:7). And He has given them to image Him in the working of this fellowship with them—all unto the purpose of that more direct fellowship with God when the work is set aside for worship.

In the instruction for the tabernacle in Exodus 25–31, just as with the original account of the creation in Genesis 1–2,  the Sabbath is the climax. Those who image God in their work do so in service of their imaging God in their worship.

How do your life’s habits and practices reflect the same emphasis upon the Sabbath that the Lord places? How is being His image-bearer central to your own, specific daily work? How is being His image-bearer central to your own, specific weekly Sabbath fellowship with Him in worship?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You and praise You for revealing Yourself to us in the Person of Jesus Christ. We praise You, Lord Jesus—God and Man, perfectly righteous, absolute in authority, powerful to save and to reign forever and ever. Forgive us for taking doctrine lightly, and grant unto us instead to embrace and uphold and proclaim the truth about You, which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH154 “This Day at Thy Creating Word” 

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