Exodus 31 – The Call of Bezaleel and Aholiab
A. The unique gifts of Bezaleel and Aholiab.
1. (1-6) The call of Bezaleel and Aholiab.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you:”
a. See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur: Even as God specifically chose Moses and Aaron, He also specifically chose these craftsmen for His service.
b. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship: God supernaturally enabled Bezalel to do the work of building the Tabernacle. God saw this work as just as spiritual, and just as dependent on the Holy Spirit’s power, as the work Moses and Aaron did.
i. This divine empowering wasn’t restricted only to Bezalel: I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans. God wanted every worker’s labor to be blessed and prompted by the Holy Spirit.
ii. Yet they were filled with the Holy Spirit not to work unto themselves, but unto the LORD: that they may make all that I have commanded you. God’s empowering isn’t to be used for our own selfish ends. Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men (Colossians 3:23).
2. (7-11) The list of items to be built in the construction of the tabernacle and its furnishings.
“The tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tabernacle—the table and its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base—the garments of ministry, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests, and the anointing oil and sweet incense for the holy place. According to all that I have commanded you they shall do.”
a. The tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it: The list seems to be given because God wanted the work organized and attentive to each detail. Nothing should be forgotten or neglected.
b. According to all that I have commanded you they shall do: This reminds us that God wanted the tabernacle and its furnishings built according to a specific pattern. It was a deliberate model of a heavenly reality.
B. The Sabbath.
1. (12-17) The command to respect the Sabbath.
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”
a. Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep: This command was strategically placed – at the very end of all the commands to build the tabernacle. Though God gave Israel a work to do in building the tabernacle He did not want them to do that work on the Sabbath. The rest of God still had to be respected.
b. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: Though in the New Covenant we are not bound by the Sabbath (Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16-17), the principle is still important. Our rest in the finished work of Jesus is never to be eclipsed by our work for God. When workers for God are burnt-out, they have almost always allowed their work for God to be bigger in their minds than His work for them.
i. The difference between what Jesus has done for us and what we do for Him is like the difference between the sun and the moon, and the sun is almost unbelievably larger than the moon. Yet if the moon is in the exactly right (or wrong) place, it is possible for the moon to eclipse the sun. Some Christians live in a constant state of total eclipse, allowing what they do for Jesus to seem more important than what Jesus did for them.
2. (18) God gives Moses the tablets of stone, written with His finger.
And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
a. Tablets of stone, written with the finger of God: We often say that something can be changed because “It is not written in stone.” These commandments were written in stone.
b.Two tablets of the Testimony: These tablets of stone were placed in the Ark of the Testimony, also known as the Ark of the Covenant. They were kept in the ark, later joined by Aaron’s rod that budded and a jar of manna.
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