Friday, May 19, 2023

2023.05.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 35:1–36:7

Read Exodus 35:1–36:7

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Moses gather (Exodus 35:1)? What does he introduce to them? What is the first great part of these commands (Exodus 35:2)? What must be done to those who disobey? What is an example of what this consecration proscribes (Exodus 35:3)? How does Exodus 35:4 re-introduce the speech? What are they to take (Exodus 35:5)? Who should bring it? What should they bring (Exodus 35:5-9)? Who else should do what (Exodus 35:10)? What, generally, are they to make? What things, specifically (Exodus 35:11-19)? Where do the people go in Exodus 35:20? Who comes in Exodus 35:21? What doubling of language makes what point here? What did they bring? What types of people (Exodus 35:22)? What language now triples the point? What types of things do they bring, generally? What specific things do they bring (Exodus 35:23-24)? Which women brought which specific things in Exodus 35:25? Which women brought which specific things in Exodus 35:26? Which type of people bring the things in Exodus 35:27-28? What, specifically do they bring? Who does Exodus 35:29 summarize the work? What are the people called? What do they bring? Which of the people especially bring? For what kinds of work do they bring? Who had commanded it? By whose hand? Whom does Moses identify whom  in Exodus 35:30? Who called him? What else has he done for him (Exodus 35:31) To make what things (Exodus 35:32-33Exodus 35:35)? And further to do what (Exodus 35:34a)? Who is his second (verse 34b)? Who else is now mentioned with them in Exodus 36:1? Who has done what for them? What manner of work are they to do? According to what? Whom does Moses now address directly (Exodus 36:2)? What has the Lord done to all these people What do they receive from whom (Exodus 36:3)? What continues to be done after this? But who come in Exodus 36:4? What do they leave in order to come? To whom do they speak (Exodus 36:5)? What “difficulty” do they have? What does Moses give in Exodus 36:6? Where is it proclaimed? Who is prohibited? From doing what? Why (Exodus 36:7)?

How does the Lord’s provision show how intent He is upon dwelling with His people in favor? Exodus 35:1–36:7 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these forty-two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord demonstrated His favorable intent in dwelling among His people by giving generously to them in every way. 

Some time ago, in considering Genesis 6, we noted that the way of saying it was that Noah found grace, but the greater reality was that grace found Noah. In discussing the catechism question this week (WSC87), we have noted with our family that the way of saying it is that we apprehend God’s mercy in Christ, but the greater reality is that God’s grace apprehends us. Now, in this passage, our contemporary editors have referred to this section in terms of the peoples offerings and generosity, but the greater reality is the abundant generosity of God, Who Himself gives even the willing heart. Specifically, we see God giving them Word, worship, willingness, wealth, wisdom, and work.

Word. The section as a whole are “the words which Yahweh has commanded” (Exodus 35:1). The Sabbath is “the thing which Yahweh commanded” (Exodus 35:4). The artisans are to “make all that Yahweh has commanded” (Exodus 35:10). The work is “all kinds of work which Yahweh, by the hand of Moses, had commanded” (Exodus 35:29). The artisans “shall do according to all that Yahweh has commanded” (Exodus 36:1). The offerings are too much for “the work which Yahweh commanded” (Exodus 36:5). 

This all brings us back to God’s detailing the making of all of these things to Moses on the mountain. It’s a reminder that the Lord has intended to dwell with His people. It is not as if He did not know what they were going to do with the calf. He intended for them to know that His purpose of grace was going to overcome even their sin in order dwell in the midst of them in His favorable presence. 

What is true for Israel nationally/ecclesiastically in a moment of their history is true in a greater way for the elect from all eternity. By giving us His Word ahead of time, then fulfilling it over-against (even through) our sin and guilt, the Lord demonstrates the resolve of His intent to dwell favorably with us forever.

Worship. It is remarkable that the first great instruction about making the tabernacle is to spend 1/7 of the time NOT making the tabernacle (Exodus 35:2-3). But this has been the case for man with all of his work for all of his existence. The first thing that Adam and Mrs. Adam were to do in taking dominion, being fruitful, multiplying, subduing was… spend their first full day NOT doing those things (cf. Genesis 1:26–2:3).  

Worship colors all of our working. If we are to know what it is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices in the creation, it must come first by those spiritual sacrifices in the acts of worship by which we act more directly upon the Creator. Now, as they do all of the work in building the tabernacle, they are of course to do it all with a heart of worship. This aspect of the work is emphasized throughout the passage. But, even doing it with such a heart, is not permitted on the Sabbath. Whereas, six days a week, they worship by working, on the Sabbath they worship by NOT working. Indeed, anyone who does this “church business” on the Sabbath is to be executed for it! Not even a fire is to be kindled.

If we’re fleshly enough to shrink back from such a command, let us mourn that we do not understand or value the worship of the Lord, the holiness of the Lord, and the Sabbath of the Lord like we should. But let us also see the amazing mercy of God. The Israelites were much like many of we. But God has shown them a mercy that appears more readily when we erase the artificial chapter division. It is immediately upon giving them the experience of the shining face of Moses that this command comes. He prepares them for the command by literally striking the fear of His glory into their hearts. 

Willingness. The commands for collection and construction begin by highlighting a great provision from the Lord: willingness. “Whoever is of a willing heart” (Exodus 35:5). This worshipful, willing heart is a provision from God. The Lord is not saying that giving is optional, as if it’s permissible to be selfish with God. Rather, He is saying that willingness is mandatory. He is provoking willingness, and His Spirit is giving the willingness that is provoked. 

It’s like in 2 Corinthians 9:7, where the Lord isn’t saying, “give less than 10%, now, so that you don’t feel like you’re being made to.” That would be a dreadful application of that text. Rather, He is saying, take the opportunity to seek grace from God by which you resolve above that 10% to be bountiful (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:6) in giving. He is saying to look to God for the grace to be cheerful. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you” (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:8). Grace in the hand to have that which to give and grace in the heart with which to give it cheerfully.

This willingness pervades the text. In Exodus 35:21, their hearts lift them up to give. Men and women come (Exodus 35:22). All have willing hearts (verse 22). Even the spinning women’s hearts lifted them up (Exodus 35:26). It’s a freewill offering (Exodus 35:29). All the artisans’ hearts lift them up to come do the work (Exodus 36:2). The lord had given not only His Word and worship; He graciously gave great willingness.

Wealth. As we were considering in 2 Corinthians 9, the wealth for the work is another necessary gift from God. And what wealth He gives them! This nation is in the wilderness, just removed from slavery, and what they bring sounds like a treasure trove from an epic fable. 

Gold, silver, bronze (Exodus 35:5); blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats’ hair (verse 5); ram skins dyed red, dolphin (NKJ: ‘badger’) skins, acacia wood (Exodus 35:7); oil, spices (Exodus 35:8); onyx stones and all the other gems for the ephod and breastplate (Exodus 35:9); earrings, nose rings, rings, necklaces, jewelry of gold (Exodus 35:22); blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats’ hair, red skins of rams, dolphin skins (Exodus 35:23); silver, bronze, acacia wood (Exodus 35:24); skill for making more blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen (Exodus 35:25), goats’ hair yarn (Exodus 35:26); onyx stones and ephod and breastplate stones (Exodus 35:27); spices, oil (Exodus 35:28). 

Even the multiple repetitions serve to emphasize how much wealth the Lord had provided. The treasures of the world had been concentrated in Egypt in order to be carried out by Israel.  Whether from such wealth or from affliction and deep poverty (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:2), God gives believers to see everything that they have as wealth, and all of that wealth as fodder for giving.

Whether the Lord has given you much or given you little, dear reader, He has given you wealth. And that wealth is the companion gift to willingness to give it to Him. In the spirit of worship. According to His Word.

Wisdom. Gifted artisans are needed (Exodus 35:19). How can they be obtained?  Exodus 31:1–6 has already made it clear that this will not be a search for candidates. Yahweh “called by name” (Exodus 35:30) those whom He Himself would give the wisdom for their calling (Exodus 35:31). This was true of every gifted artisan (Exodus 36:1Exodus 36:2). And it is true of all of your knowledge, understanding, and ability. We often focus upon things like ability as if they are innate, and education and training as if they operate mechanically, but God reminds us how personally He is involved in every providence. His Spirit, Who from the beginning of creation has superintended and sustained all the creatures, is the One Who gives each of us any knowledge or skill that we have. Yours, too. All wisdom is a gift from Him. 

Work. The work itself is a provision of God. Every bit of each thing that must be given or made offers the privilege of participation in God giving His people His favorable presence. The whole operation is summarized as work even with reference to the fourth commandment (Exodus 35:2). They are to come and work (NKJ: ‘make’) all Yahweh commanded (Exodus 35:10). The offering is for the work (Exodus 35:2). The service was a work (Exodus 35:24). It was all kinds of work that Yahweh used Moses to command (Exodus 35:29). The artisans were to work works (Exodus 35:32). Engravers, designers, and weavers were to work works (Exodus 35:35). All of this was work for the service of the sanctuary (Exodus 36:1). All the artisans came to work the work (Exodus 35:2), the work of the service (Exodus 35:3), the work of the sanctuary (Exodus 35:4), the work which Yahweh commanded (Exodus 35:5), supplied by the work for the offering (Exodus 35:6), which was sufficient for all the work to be done (Exodus 35:7). 

The Lord can do everything. And with respect to all of this facilitating of worship, we bow to the fact that Christ Himself is tabernacle, priesthood, sacrifice, supply. How much the Lord has done for the pubic worship of His people now under the gospel and into all eternity. What work has He given us to do? To come (too much for many, sadly). To listen. To join voices in song. To join hearts in prayer. To trust in Christ, and lift up our souls in dependence upon Him.  

And there is work during the week too: ordering our lives in a way that facilitates all of this. Keeping short accounts with God—tender hearts and quickened minds in the Word by which we will worship. And then all of the earthly and temporal things too, clearing all the other work the Lord has given us to do with diligence and wisdom, taking care of our physical health, preparing logistically to be able to give ourselves entirely to worship on the Lord’s Day. What a privilege the Lord has given us to participate in His dwelling favorably in our midst in the Lord Jesus Christ! May He give us the grace to participate in it with willing hearts!

What work has God given you to do throughout the week? What work has He given you to do on the Lord’s Day? How cheerfully have you been giving yourself and all you have to this? Where can you get more cheerfulness?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for planning from before the world began to dwell favorably among a people whom You had redeemed and adopted! Now, grant that by Your Spirit, we would do all that You have given us to do in participation in this marvelous and merciful plan, we ask through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH152 “Safely through Another Week”

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