Exodus 35:1-19 (A Call to Service)

Exodus 35:1-19
A Call to Service

In today’s passage, as with next week’s as well, we will have a significant amount of repetition. However, it is repetition which stems from passages going all the way back through all of the instructions for the construction of the sanctuary.

If you remember more than 1% of what we talked about in those sermons, you have an excuse to nap while we review. However, I’m going to hand out a proficiency test to make sure you qualify before your nap is approved.

In all honesty, as I was reviewing these verses and getting things prepared, I was astonished at how much I didn’t retain. Going back over those 22 sermons, I couldn’t believe the amount of detail we covered. The symbolism of Christ in each of the things described to Moses is overwhelming.

If you missed those sermons, you missed a great deal and I would encourage you to take the time and listen to them. For now, what was presented to Moses will be restated to the people, calling them to holiness in life and holiness in conduct.

The call to holiness in life will be by a short explanation of the Law of the Sabbath. The calling to holiness in conduct will come by a request for offerings of material and service from the people. Now think about that from our perspective today. Is it any different?

We have been called to holiness by resting in Christ – what He has accomplished. That is our first obligation. After that, we have been called to holiness by giving of our possessions in the service of Christ, and then of the giving of ourselves in a more complete service to Christ.

I am going to repeat this thought in just a few minutes during the sermon in hopes that it will sink in through the repetition. What Israel did is the same thing that we are asked to do.

Text Verse: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1, 2

The only difference between Israel and us is that they worked and then rested. We rest and then we work. They gave of their goods, they gave of their lives, and then they rested in anticipation of the Messiah’s promised rest which was yet ahead.

We rest in that which they looked forward to. In this completion of His work, we then are given the chance to give of our goods and then of our lives. Please though, do not think of this as a call for you to give to the Superior Word. That has never been something we have done, nor will it ever be. And yet the Lord has always provided.

It is up to you where you give your tangible gifts and your gifts of service, but you are to give. You can’t be a living sacrifice if you aren’t sacrificing. The animal on the altar which was presented by the people to God died there by the altar.

We on the other hand died on the altar with Christ, and now we are to live for Christ as that gift being offered to God. In whatever way you determine, and as the Lord prospers you, so you should return yourself to the Lord.

The call is made today by Moses. It is a call which contrasts a shameful act of giving not long passed. After the call is made, work on the Lord’s dwelling place can begin. And you, the call was made and you responded. Now, you should be actively working on being a more perfect part of that more perfect temple which the Lord is building.

Types and shadows of the reality we now live in Christ are seen in today’s passage. So let’s get into it. It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Law of the Sabbath (verses 1-3)

Then Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together,

The word “gathered” here comes from the verb qahal, which means “to gather as an assembly.” It comes from the more common noun qahal, which is the assembly itself. It was first used in this verb form in Exodus 32:1 when the people “gathered together to Aaron” in order to demand the making of a golden calf.

Now it is used for the second time in complete contrast to that. Instead of gathering together for disobedience to the Lord and His commands, they are being called together for honoring Him. He has spared them despite their rebellion, and because of His mercy, Moses is calling them together as a people to come and learn the way of holiness.

In today’s verses, we will see three separate sections by which they will learn this way. Each step is carefully positioned and methodically presented in order for the people to understand this way of holiness.

He will begin with the external display of how they are expected to live in this manner by repeating the Sabbath requirement to them once again. He will then continue with this in asking them for donations of articles in order to build the sanctuary which will stand in their midst, and from which, their means of interacting with Him in holiness will come about.

After this, he will then ask for those who have the abilities to make the things mandated out of those same offerings. In this, they will learn of the sanctification of the people by the Lord for sacred purposes.

Each step in its own order is a reflection of the process of sanctification of the people. They must first be given the law which reflects their sign as a people. This is done in the repetition of the Sabbath law. The next is a giving of what one possessed in honor of the Lord. And the third is the giving of oneself in the service of the Lord.

In the church, there are those who are saved and who are given the sign of that salvation, baptism. This reflects the baptism of the Holy Spirit which was received upon belief in Christ. There are next those who are obedient in the giving of their possessions to build and sustain the ministry of the Lord. And then there are those who are set apart to minister to the Lord with their lives, and according to their abilities. This is what we are seeing reflected in these verses today.

1 (con’t) and said to them, “These are the words which the Lord has commanded you to do:

These words should rightfully have been placed after Exodus 31:18, a full eight sermons ago. This was when the Lord handed the first two tablets of stone to Moses. He should have simply received them, turned down the mountain, and found the people respectfully and obediently awaiting his return with the word of the Lord for the future conduct of their lives.

Instead, chapter 32 introduced the sin of the golden calf and all that occurred after that. Instead of a joyous regathering of Moses to the people, there was wrath, indignation, and death associated with his return. Because of that incident, a new direction in the law came about as well.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that none of those things were unknown to God, and they were ultimately a part of His unfolding plan. However, it doesn’t change the nature of the catastrophe which came upon the people. Nor does it change the many variations in direction which resulted in the occurrences of those intervening chapters.

Moses’ shining face was given as a permanent reminder to the people of this. And when I say permanent, it is a reminder which continues to this day. Only in Christ is the veil taken away and the glory of God revealed in a new and marvelous way. As you can see, everything occurred as it should.

The intervening eight chapters have formed an integral part of the unfolding plan of the ages. Understanding that, we now return to where the account left off. The last thing before the giving of the original tablets of the commandments to Moses was that of the Law of the Sabbath.

As I said, the giving of the Sabbath law to the people in connection with the building of the tabernacle was for the purpose of tying it into the sanctuary. The sanctuary is where the Lord is to reside. It signifies that He is dwelling among the people.

Once again, the reason for the Sabbath’s inclusion here is because it, like every other detail which has been given concerning the tabernacle ultimately points to Christ – His Person and His work, for us. That physical manifestation of the tabernacle being among the people is now realized in the giving of the Spirit to the believer in His finished work.

This is why the Sabbath is no longer required. The rest which was anticipated for God’s people is realized in His completion of the work of the law. And this is why Hebrews 4:3 now says that we who have believed, do enter that rest.

In the Old Covenant, man worked and then rested. In the New Covenant, man rests and then works. A picture is made of the process of salvation in the two dispensations. Israel worked six days and then rested on the Sabbath. It was an anticipation of the time of rest which lay ahead when all things would be restored.

We rest in Christ and then do works for Christ, not for salvation, but for our walk in Christ and in anticipation of our heavenly rewards. This is all reflected first in the law of the Sabbath, and then in the fulfillment of it in Christ. Now, that law is briefly summarized for the people to hear…

Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord.

The Law of the Sabbath was given in Exodus 31:12-17. However, this first spoken mandate by Moses to the people actually parallels only verse 15. Although not a direct quote, it carries all of the substance of that verse. Also, he has abbreviated the substance of the words that were given to him, but the main point of the instruction is carefully repeated here to the people.

They are to work six days and then have a shabbath shabbaton, or a Sabbath of rest to the Lord as a holy day. The instructions for the building of the tabernacle lie just ahead. Its construction though was not to take precedence over the Sabbath. Rather, they were to rest each week from their work. Of the words of this verse, Joseph Benson says –

“Work for the tabernacle, but on the seventh day they must not strike a stroke, no, not at the tabernacle work; the honour of the sabbath was above that of the sanctuary.” Joseph Benson

This is not correct. The Sabbath has no more honor than the sanctuary. As we have seen and will see again, every detail of the sanctuary points to Christ. The Sabbath rest also points to Christ. It simply would make no sense to work for Christ on a day which points to Christ. In fact, in Leviticus 26:2, the Sabbath and reverence for the sanctuary are tied together in one thought –

“You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary:
I am the Lord.” Leviticus 26:2

Though the Israelites didn’t realize these things, we now do. What was given in type and shadow is realized in the marvelous Lord who fulfilled those same types and shadows. The Sabbath was to be a day the people heeded according to the word of the Lord. If they didn’t heed, the penalty is now repeated from chapter 31 –

2 (con’t) Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.

These words here also reflect the substance of Exodus 31:15. The Sabbath looked forward to the coming “rest of God” which was lost when man was cast out of Eden. When Adam disobeyed the word of the Lord, his punishment was –

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19

Man was destined to work in order to survive, implying that this was not previously the case. During my sermon on the Law of the Sabbath, one person – obviously caught up in the legalism of either the 7th Day Adventists, or some Hebrew Roots movement, argued that the Sabbath was God’s standard for man all along; it was an eternal edict.

Not only can that not be inferred in Scripture at all, it is completely false. I directed him back to the original giving of the Sabbath in Exodus 16 where it was first presented to man. One has to remember that Genesis 2 was not recorded until the time of Moses. Here is what Genesis 2:1-3 says –

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

After that, nothing is mentioned of the seventh day for rest until Exodus 16. And the words that were used in that sermon were very specific, showing that it was now a new aspect of God’s dealings with man. Further, it was a new aspect which dealt solely with the people of Israel.

The heresy of Sabbath observance as a necessary requirement in today’s church is truly sad. All the information we need for salvation is found in Paul’s epistles. He, as the apostle to the Gentiles, defines clearly and precisely what we need to do to be saved; what we need to do in order to be pleasing to God; and how to also instruct others in meeting those same goals.

Nowhere in his writings does he ever indicate anything concerning the Sabbath, except to argue against it as an observance. This is especially so in Romans 14:5 and Colossians 2:16, 17, but it is implicitly true in everything he writes.

What part of the concept of “grace” these heretics don’t understand is hard to grasp. It is a simple word with a simple meaning, as is the concept of a gift. One does not work in order to receive a gift. And though the Sabbath is a day of not actively working, it is a day of spiritual work in order to not physically work. That is realized in the next verse…

You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

One must do something in order to not actively do something. Along with all the other things that the people have already been instructed to not do on the Sabbath day, a new requirement is now added in. No fire is to be kindled in any dwelling on the Sabbath. This thought can be taken as an addendum to what was stated in Exodus 16:23 –

Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’” Exodus 16:23

No manna was provided on the Sabbath and so they were to prepare their food a day in advance of the Sabbath. As a further restraint, they were told to not even kindle a fire. To kindle a fire was a laborious process of work. As food wasn’t cooked, they were not to consider making a fire for any other reason as well. As John Lange says about this –

“The addition, prohibiting the kindling of fire, indicates that the law of the Sabbath is made more rigorous in the matter of abstinence.” John Lange

The Israelites were to actively abstain from work in every possible way. Now in Christ, we are given a different aspect of the same precept. We are not told to actively abstain from every work in order to attempt to merit God’s favor. Instead, we are to rest in the finished work of Christ. In the end, whether before the cross or after, it is all done in relation to Christ.

Another great scholar of times past, Matthew Henry, does a terrible job of his analysis of these two Sabbath verses. He says –

“The mild and easy yoke of Christ has made our sabbath duties more delightful, and our sabbath restraints less irksome, than those of the Jews; but we are the more guilty by neglecting them. Surely God’s wisdom in giving us the sabbath, with all the mercy of its purposes, are sinfully disregarded. Is it nothing to pour contempt upon the blessed day, which a bounteous God has given to us for our growth in grace with the church below, and to prepare us for happiness with the church above?” Henry

Matthew Henry errs in his analysis like many others in moving the Saturday Sabbath to a Sunday Sabbath. There is no such thing as a Sunday Sabbath. The Sabbath is Saturday, the seventh day of the week. In its fulfillment, it ended.

Again, if one departs from Paul’s doctrine for the church age, there is no doctrine for the church age. All theology thus becomes a pick and choose path to God. As we close out this section, let us remember a few key points. The Sabbath is a part of the law; the law is fulfilled in Christ and annulled. Salvation is a gift which comes by grace. A gift cannot be earned; grace is unmerited favor.

Attempting to be justified before God through works sets aside both the notion of receiving a gift as well as the granting of grace. Rest in Christ, trust in Christ, and be pleased to be reconciled to God solely by the work of Christ. Thank God for Jesus Christ.

I am the Lord who sanctifies you
In Me you shall find your rest
What I look for is faith that is true
And in this, I shall put you to the test

I am the Lord, pay heed unto Me
For I will give you a Day of rest
If you will simply trust, you will see
That in My presence you will be eternally blessed

Come unto Me, you who are weary
And in My presence there will be peaceful rest
Come unto Me, leave your life so dreary
If the land of Paradise-restored is your hope-filled quest

II. An Offering to the Lord (verses 4-9)

And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying:

These words begin the second and final major section of the chapter which will be divided into four smaller sections. Moses will first recount the substance of Exodus 25:2-7 which concerns the offering of the people for the construction of the sanctuary.

The Hebrew reads zeh haddavar asher tsivah Yehovah. “This the word that commanded, Yehovah.” It is to be remembered that it was not long before that the incident with the golden calf had occurred. At that time, the people has said this to Aaron –

“Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Exodus 32:1

In response to that, it says –

“And Aaron said to them, ‘Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’” Exodus 32:2

Once the calf was fashioned, Aaron indicated it was a representation of Yehovah. The people had willingly given their treasure for a false god. Now, Moses would ask something of them as directed by the true God…

‘Take from among you an offering to the Lord.

This is to be an offering “to Yehovah.” It is thus infinitely more worthy than for the false idol to which they willingly broke off their earrings. Everything that is needed can be expected to be obtained from this offering.

It would make no sense for the Lord to plan on the construction of it without knowing in advance that each and every thing that was necessary for its completion would be available. Understanding this, it will still require the stirring of the hearts of the people to give what they possess. However, there would be no “breaking off” or “tearing away” their prized possessions like Aaron asked of them. Instead, they were asked to let their hearts guide them…

5 (con’t) Whoever is of a willing heart,

A new word is introduced here, nadiv. It is an adjective which comes from the verb nadav which means willing. Nadiv means “free” or “liberal” or even a noble or a prince. The idea is that a noble person would be a charitable giver. This is what the Lord is asking for concerning the materials for the sanctuary; giving with a charitable heart.

5 (con’t) let him bring it as an offering to the Lord:

The offering, or terumah, is something which is “lifted up” to the Lord. It is an acknowledgment of His exalted status, and thus the offering is to be lifted up as an oblation to Him. This is set in complete contrast to that which was given for the making of the golden calf. The difference could not be any more distinct.

The requesting of these materials, and the direction for the construction of the sanctuary, is an understood proclamation that the covenant relationship has been restored, and that the Lord has agreed to be Israel’s God and to dwell among them in that capacity. And so the materials are now named. Each was described in minute detail in the past as to their symbolism in Christ. Here we will just briefly look at each…

5 (con’t) gold, silver, and bronze;

zahav, or gold, is the finest of the biblical metals. It symbolizes purity and holiness, royalty, and divinity. keseph, or silver is another precious metal which is associated with redemption. nekhosheth, or bronze, mainly symbolizes judgment, but also endurance. The judgment can be negative, such as in punishment, or it can be of judgment in purification and justification.

blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair;

tekeleth, or blue, is associated with the law, especially the keeping of the law. argaman, or purple is a purple or blue/red. It speaks of royalty or that which pertains to or belongs to a king. It is a mixture of blue and red, and so it is a combination of what those two colors mean – the law for blue; and war, blood, and/or judgment for red.

towlaat shani, or literally, red worms. Together, the words are translated as “scarlet,” but implying the scarlet which comes from the towla or crimson-grub worm. This scarlet, or red, pictures war, blood, and/or judgment. shesh, or fine linen symbolizes righteousness. izzim, or goat hair symbolizes awareness of sin and that it will be punished.

ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood;

orot elim me’addamim, or skins of rams dyed red, symbolize power and protection in the skins, and of atonement for sin in the dyed red color. orot tekhashim, does not indicate badger skins. Rather, it indicates skins of porpoise or a sea cow. The sea is representative of the world of chaos, confusion and rebellion. Thus these skins symbolize protection from that. Within, there is order, harmony, and peace. atse shittim, or wood acacias, symbolize humanity, but more, humanity which is incorruptible. Therefore, it symbolizes Christ’s humanity.

oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense;

shemen la’maor, or oil for lighting, symbolizes the presence of the Spirit, which is for spiritual understanding; specifically that which provides illumination. besamim l’shemen ha’miskhah, or spice for anointing oil, symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit first for Christ’s work, and then that which is given to us through Christ’s work.

liqtoreth ha’sammim , or incense fragrant, symbolizes prayer to God, but specifically acceptable prayers to God.

onyx stones,

avne shoham , or stones onyx, are mentioned in addition to those to be used in the shoulder piece of the ephod on the high priest. Because of this, they are probably specifically to be for the Urim and Thummim. If this is so, and it is likely, then they signify intercession on behalf of the people.

9 (con’t) and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.

avne milluim la’ephod v’lakhoshen, or “stones to be set for the ephod and for the breastplate.” Exodus 28:9 tells us that the stones for the shoulder piece of the ephod are to be onyx stones. Thus they symbolize the bearing of the burden of the people in a mediatorial role.

The other stones which are to be used in the breastplate of judgment are specifically named in Exodus 28:17-20. The exact identity of many of these stones is unknown, but because they are in the breastplate of judgment, they symbolize the judgment rendered for God’s people through the work of Christ.

Hints of Christ in every detail of the book
Waiting for us to study and show ourselves approved
What a marvel when we open it up and look
How our souls are stirred! How our hearts are moved

Christ is there, it all speaks of Him and His work
What He has done for us was all told in advance
Let us not fail to look for Him, let us not this obligation shirk
Each discovery is like joining in a heavenly dance

Thank You for this marvel, Your precious superior word
It is filled with wonder! It is beautiful and marvelous
Christ is there in every detail; it’s all about our Lord
Yes, every single verse tells us of our Lord Jesus

III. The Lord’s To-Do List (verse 10-19)

10 ‘All who are gifted artisans among you shall come and make all that the Lord has commanded:

The call is now made from the general of the previous section – meaning all who had a willing heart, to the specific of this section – meaning all who are gifted artisans. Those specifically for the work of this section who were mentioned before were Bezalel and Aholiab in Exodus 31:2-10, and the others in Exodus 28:3 for making of garments.

Those whom the Lord already knew are now being called for the service of making this marvelous dwelling place for the Lord God. In it, there is a logical order to what we will see next. First, the tabernacle is mentioned. This is followed up immediately with those things by which it will be constructed.

After this, will come the contents of the tabernacle. First for the Most Holy Place, then the Holy Place, and then the furniture which is outside of the tabernacle in the courtyard. After that, those things which comprise the courtyard itself. Then the pegs are mentioned, first for the tabernacle and then for the court – with their cords. Finally the garments for each aspect of the ministry are given.

We will go over them without any detail because all of the details have already been given in the past.

11 the tabernacle, its tent, its covering, its clasps, its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets;

In this verse, two separate words are used – ha’mishkan, or “the tabernacle,” and “aholow” or “its tent.” The two are distinct things and are not to be confused. Each of the items mentioned in this verse perfectly and beautifully prefigure Christ.

12 the ark and its poles, with the mercy seat, and the veil of the covering;

The ark and its mercy seat is mentioned in Exodus 25:10-22. The veil is detailed in Exodus 26:31-33. In this verse, the term paroketh ha’masak, or “veil of the covering” is now used instead of simply the paroketh, or veil. It is still speaking specifically of the veil which divides the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place, but a fuller name is given here.

The ark symbolizes Christ, the embodiment of, and thus the fulfillment of, the law. The mercy seat is Christ our satisfaction of the law through His shed blood. The veil represents Christ’s body through which we have restored access to God.

13 the table and its poles, all its utensils, and the showbread;

This is speaking of the table of showbread which was mentioned in Exodus 25:23-30. It, in short, details Christ our Bread, and thus our source and sustenance of life.

14 also the lampstand for the light, its utensils, its lamps, and the oil for the light;

The menorah and its associated articles are mentioned in Exodus 25:31-40. It was an amazing study, every detail of which pointed to Christ – the Servant, our Messiah, our Light, our Wise Counselor, our Word of God, our Giver of the dispensations of time, and so much more. The symbolism of the menorah is so exceptional that we will never fully realize everything it portrays.

15 the incense altar, its poles, the anointing oil, the sweet incense,

The incense altar was detailed much later in the instructions provided to Moses. It wasn’t until Exodus 30:1-10 that it was named. The anointing oil and the sweet incense came later in that same chapter. They were detailed in order from verse 22-38.

The incense altar pointed to Christ’s intercessory work for us. The anointing oil minutely detailed Christ’s work which was accomplished for us, and the sweet incense symbolizes His ongoing work for us as our Mediator and Intercessor.

15 (con’t) and the screen for the door at the entrance of the tabernacle;

This screen door was the covering entranceway into the tabernacle itself. It is described in Exodus 26:26, 27. It symbolized the work of Christ for us which allows us access once again into the heavenly realms. In short, it pictures Christ, our Door to salvation.

16 the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, all its utensils,

This altar is detailed in Exodus 27:1-8. In short, it symbolizes Christ, our judgment on sin and thus our Justifier.

16 (con’t) and the laver and its base;

This item was mentioned seemingly out of place as a few others were, in Exodus 30:17-21. However, as we saw, it was actually perfectly placed. In short, it signifies among other things Christ, our Sanctifier and Purifier.

17 the hangings of the court, its pillars, their sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court;

These things were detailed in order in Exodus 27:9-19. They symbolize those things which Christ accomplished in His ministry and which are open and visible to all who are willing to simply look. They portray the evident Christ who is on display to the world, but who is also limited in effect to only those who enter through Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, which is seen in the gate for the court. He is the expectant Christ, open and available to all who will simply come.

18 the pegs of the tabernacle, the pegs of the court, and their cords;

The pegs were all to be made of bronze. They speak of judgment rendered. As they are what hold the tabernacle and the court hangings up by being firmly planted in the ground, they speak of permanency. The cords are the tie between the two.

Surprisingly, the methar, or cords have never been mentioned until now. The word comes from the verb yathar, meaning left over, or abundant, or to preserve. They then signify the ability of Christ’s judgment to preserve us and tie us to all of the other aspects of His work, binding us to what He has done and abundantly keeping us for the great day of salvation which lies ahead.

19 the garments of ministry, for ministering in the holy place

These bigde ha’serad, or “cloths of service,” are lumped in here by the NKJV with the garments of Aaron and his sons. However, they were described in Exodus 31:10 where they were noted, most probably, as the cloths which cover the sacred articles of the sanctuary as they were transported from place to place.

They thus reflect Christ concealed. His actual Person and work are covered and not viewable to the people of the world. We are to trust in the work of Christ, and thus they symbolize our faith in His work, which is – other than as recorded in Scripture – completely unseen to us.

*19 (fin) the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests.’”

The garments for the priesthood, along with the things the high priest wore on his garments, comprise all of chapter 28. The garments in particular point to the ministry of Christ – His nature, His attributes, and His work. The garments for Aaron’s sons pictured Christ’s work on our behalf, covering us in His righteousness.

As I said at the beginning of our passage today, there was a lot of repetition from 22 previous sermons. But I bet quite a bit of what we looked at brought back some great reminders of the magnificent pictures of what those sermons detailed.

And as we have highlighted the giving of the people in their goods and in their service, I would like to mention one way of giving which you may not have thought of. If you have just popped into this sermon and haven’t seen what all of those chapters on the anticipated construction of the sanctuary and all of its implements actually detail, you could give the Lord of your time and go back and watch them.

If you’re really brave, you could go back and start watching from Genesis 1:1 as several people have done, and offer your time to the Lord in learning His word. Time is the fire in which we burn, and it is a candle which is quickly being consumed. But time is also the school in which we learn. Therefore, a wise use of your time is one of the greatest things you could offer to the Lord.

I would put learning His word right up at the top of what you can offer to Him. But no matter what you choose to do, what you choose to give, or what services you decide to offer – do it all for the glory of God which is found in Christ Jesus the Lord. And under the odd possibility that you are here not knowing Christ the Lord, well… you’d better get that squared away right now.

Closing Verse: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:7, 8

Next Week: Exodus 35:20-35 Fifteen verses it spans… (Offerings and Artisans) (98th Exodus sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Call to Service

Then Moses gathered all the congregation
Of the children of Israel
Together, and said to them, to the whole nation
These are the words he did tell

These are the words which the Lord
Has commanded you to do; according to His word

Work shall be done for six days
But the seventh day shall be a holy day for you
A Sabbath of rest to the Lord
Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death, so shall you do

You shall kindle no fire, as I now say
Throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day

And Moses spoke to all the congregation
Of the children of Israel, saying
This is the thing which the Lord commanded
This is the saying; these the words he was relaying

Take from among you an offering to the Lord
Whoever is of a willing heart
Let him bring it as an offering to the Lord:
Gold, silver, and bronze, but this is just the start

Blue, purple, and scarlet thread
Fine linen, and goats’ hair as well
Ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood
Such are needed as to you I now tell

Oil for the light
And spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense too
Onyx stones, and stones to be set just right
In the ephod and in the breastplate are needed from you

All who are gifted artisans among you
Shall come and as the Lord has commanded shall make all
The tabernacle, its tent, its covering, its clasps
Its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets, according to His call

The ark and its poles, with the mercy seat
And the veil of the covering; as He did relay
The table and its poles
All its utensils, and the showbread, as the word does say

Also the lampstand for the light
Its utensils, its lamps, and the oil for the light as well
The incense altar, its poles
The anointing oil, the sweet incense; so I now tell

And the screen for the door
At the entrance of the tabernacle, in that place
The altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating
Its poles, all its utensils, and the laver and its base

The hangings of the court
Its pillars, their sockets, according to these words
And the screen for the gate of the court
The pegs of the tabernacle, the pegs of the court, and their cords

The garments of ministry
For ministering in the holy place
The holy garments for Aaron the priest
And the garments of his sons, to minister as priests before My face

We have been called to follow a process in the Lord
First to rest in Him and what He has done for us
We come to do this through hearing His word
And then showing faith in the Lord Jesus

After that, we are asked for what we have to give
The things which we possess as our offering to God
With a willing heart in this life that we live
And without compulsion in this walk that we trod

And then if we have been given even more
If we possess a special ability or a skill
We should use that for the Lord, yes let us open that door
And use it for His glory with all of our will

In this, the Lord is surely pleased, we know
And so let us not hold back from Him these things
Serve the Lord with all your heart as you grow
As faithful Christians, in all that title brings

Hallelujah and Amen…




Exodus 31:12-18 (The Law of the Sabbath)

Exodus 31:12-18
The Law of the Sabbath

We have already had several sermons on the Sabbath. It is a theme which one would think would simply dry up so that all we would be doing is repeating the same thing. However, today’s passage is completely different than those of the past, such as Ex 16:22-26, where the Sabbath was introduced into Scripture, or Exodus 20, which dealt with the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath.

This passage today takes us in an entirely different direction, and yet it fully supports those, and all the other passages which deal with the Sabbath. It is a temporary institution which finds its true meaning in Christ. In Him, the picture made by the Sabbath is fulfilled, and thus the Sabbath requirement is ended. Along with the new information comes a marvelous chiasm which I discovered while doing the sermon.

I will lay it out for you now, and at times we will refer to it in the sermon. Chiasms give us hidden structures which reveal what God is thinking. They help us to properly analyze difficult passages and theological concepts and they reveal what their true meaning is. This one is no different –

2 Chiasm

As we read the sermon text, maybe you thought, “Why is the same thing being repeated again and again?” Now you know. The Lord is revealing truths about this most important weekly day which occurred in the lives of Israel of old.

Text Verse: “Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.
10 Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Hebrews 3:7-11

Before we even start with the sermon, we need to be reminded that the Sabbath was a part of the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses is, according to the book of Hebrews, obsolete, annulled, and set aside. It is, according to Paul in Colossians, “nailed to the cross.” We are not Sabbatarians here. We don’t observe an annulled precept from an annulled law in order to be pleasing to God.

Instead, we trust in the work of Christ, and we rest in His finished work – plain and simple. Working deeds of the law in order to attempt to be right with God will lead to only one sad end, separation from God. It is a self-condemning act. This truth, and quite a few others, are poignantly highlighted in today’s verses. Let’s pay heed to what is revealed there… in His Superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. A Sign Between Me and You (verses 12-14)

12 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

v’yomer Yehovah el Moshe lemor – “And said the Lord to Moses saying…” These words introduce the second major section of this chapter. The first began in verse 1 with a very similar phrase. With just a single word of difference, this second section now opens. What is most notable about it, is that it will close out the Lord’s discourse concerning the instructions of the tabernacle and the priestly ordination which began in verse 25:1.

In all, these 6 chapters have comprised 22 individual sermons which have discovered hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures of Christ. There has been an amazing amount of information revealed in this 40-day trip up the mountain by Moses. Even 3500 years later, new insights continue to come out of these 6 chapters of 243 verses, such as our chiasm which finally came forth at this time.

13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep,

This final section of the instructions to Moses seems to be completely out of place. Everything to this point concerning his time on the mountain has been in regard to the building of the tabernacle and its associated rites and services. Suddenly, the law of the Sabbath is reintroduced. As I said, it was already mentioned in chapter 16 where it was first introduced.

It was then next mentioned in the giving of the 10 Commandments, specifically it being the fourth of them. Those two incidents would seem to suffice concerning this particular observance, and yet, before closing out His highly detailed discourse, these six verses are given.

After them, will be one more verse concerning the tablets of the Ten Commandments and the chapter will close. Because of this seemingly unusual placement of these seemingly out of context verses, several reasons have been suggested for their inclusion now.

  • “The law of the Sabbath held a particularly prominent place” in the Ten Commandments, and so it is highlighted before they are given to Moses. (Kurtz)
  • “That the holy service in the tabernacle could not supersede the observance of the Sabbath, but derived from that observance its true value.” (Kalisch)
  • That the “penal edict was especially introduced as a caution in reference to the construction of the tabernacle, lest the people, in their zeal to carry on the work, should be tempted to break the divine law for the observance of the day.” (Barnes)
  • “Hitherto the Sabbath had been, in the main, a positive enactment intended to test obedience (Exodus 16:4); now it was elevated into a sacramental sign between God and His people (Exodus 31:13). Having become such a sign, it required to be guarded by a new sanction, and this was done by assigning the death-penalty to any infraction of the law of Sabbath observance (Exodus 31:14-15). (Ellicott)
  • None of the above (Charlie Garrett)

The first reason, that the Sabbath held an especially prominent place in the Ten Commandments, is wholly unjustified. Elevating the Sabbath above the other nine has led to both heresy and the establishment of aberrant cults. That is neither stated in, nor can it be inferred from, Scripture.

The second reason, that the service in the tabernacle could not supersede the observance of the Sabbath, would mean that the rites of the tabernacle would have to be suspended every Sabbath. And yet the directions for the service of the tabernacle mandate that they be conducted, without interruption, every day of the week. Even the ordination of Aaron and his sons was to continue on through Sabbath days.

The third reason, that of the people neglecting the Sabbath to work on the tabernacle, is just wrong. The Sabbath law has been given. For them to assume that they could work on the tabernacle in order to get it finished was not mentioned by the Lord during the instruction of these 6 chapters. In other words, the Sabbath requirement was named at the giving of the Ten Commandments. It was mandated and expected to be kept, just as all ten were.

The last view, that it was because it was elevated to a sacramental sign between God and the people is a correct precept, but that doesn’t explain the placement of it here along with the instructions for the tabernacle. It simply provides an explanation for the penalty of death for a violation of the Sabbath and goes no further.

The issue is, “Why has the Sabbath been placed here, at this time, after giving minute instructions for the building of the tabernacle, and just prior to the physical handing over of the Ten Commandments?” That is the relevant question.

The answer is that if you survive to the end of this sermon, you will be told the reason. In the meantime, you can chew on it as we go through the rest of the verses, and see if you can come to the correct answer.

As far as the use of the word Shabbat, or Sabbath, here, it is the first time that the term shabbatotay or “My Sabbaths” is found in Scripture. First, it shows the personal nature of the Sabbath in relation to the Lord. In observing the Sabbath, there is a direct connection to God’s rest which is recorded in Genesis 2 –

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3

Second, the word is in the plural, “Sabbaths,” because they were a regular occurrence, each week throughout the year. This is why Paul uses the same term when speaking of the “Sabbaths” in Colossians 2:16. They are many, and they are personal to the Lord. This “rest of God” is so important to Him that it will bear several unique connotations and requirements. The first is…

13 (cont’) for it is a sign between Me and you

The Sabbath is to be a sign between the Lord and His people. The word for “sign” is owth. It comes from the verb avah, which means “to sign, mark, [or] describe with a mark.” Thus this type of sign is something that points to something else.

It can point back to a memorial which represents a particular occurrence; it can point forward to something anticipated; and it can reflect something that exists which is only highlighted by the sign itself. In other words, a signature on an important document highlights the authority of the one signing the document.

The Sabbath then is merely a sign intended to highlight a reality which exists already, or which is to be anticipated at some point in the future. Further, this sign is not a temporary thing. Rather, it was intended to remain…

13 (con’t) throughout your generations,

This exact same phrase, l’dorotekem, or “throughout your generations,” has already been used nine times. Looking at those earlier instances will hopefully reveal a truth to you concerning the reason for the placement of this passage.

So far it has been used when speaking of the sign of circumcision which was given to Abraham in Genesis 17. It was used when speaking of the Passover in Exodus 12. It was used concerning the keeping of an omer of Manna in Exodus 16. It was used in the passage concerning the daily offerings at morning and between the evenings in Exodus 29.

It was used in connection with the burning of incense on the Altar of Incense at morning and between the evenings in Exodus 30. And finally, it was used concerning the use of the Holy Anointing Oil in Exodus 30.

Of these nine references to something being done “throughout your generations,” what is the common element? Well, let us ask ourselves, “Are we still required to be circumcised?” No! In fact, Paul says that if we do that in order to be justified by the law, then we are debtors to the whole law. It is a self-condemning act. Circumcision only pointed to the coming Christ.

Are we required to observe the Passover? No! “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Are we still holding on to a golden jar of Manna? No! Why? Because Christ has come! He said –

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 6:47-51

What about the daily sacrifices? What about the offering of incense or the Anointing Oil? What is the common element? The common element is Christ. None of these previous things which were to be l’dorotekem, or “throughout your generations,” was permanent. They were given in anticipation of Christ.

13 (con’t) that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

The Sabbath was a sign, to be observed throughout the generations of Israel, to point to something else. It was given as a sign for the people of Israel to know that it was Yehovah who sanctified them. Just as he blessed and sanctified the seventh day after His creative effort in Genesis, the people of Israel were to know that they were sanctified by that same God. In observing His rest, they were intimately connected to Him and sanctified by Him.

In the words of the Bible connected to the Sabbath, we find a most important truth. First, the Sabbath is given in Exodus 20:11 based on the God’s creative efforts. In Deuteronomy 5:15, the Sabbath is given based on God’s act of redemption. And in this verse, it is tied into God’s work of sanctification.

In other words, the work of all three members of the Trinity are tied up in the Sabbath. God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Sanctifier. Matthew Poole notes –

“…the sabbath owns the Lord as our Creator, and as our Redeemer, and as our Sanctifier; and therefore it is no wonder God so severely enjoins the sanctification of the sabbath, and punisheth the neglect of it, it being a tacit renouncing or disowning of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

14 You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you.

Of these words, Joseph Benson says –

“…it is designed for your benefit as well as for God’s honour; it shall be accounted holy by you.” Joseph Benson

It is the Lord who sanctifies Israel. The Sabbath is the property of God. For Israel it is the inheritance of God. Therefore, Israel was instructed to keep the Sabbath. The directions for the construction, services, and rites of the sanctuary were based on works. They were to work towards the Sabbath each week, and then rest in honor of the works which were performed, even though the priest’s works continued during Sabbath days.

14 (cont’t) Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death;

To profane the Sabbath means to defile it. That which would defile the Sabbath was defined in the Ten Commandments –

In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” Exodus 20:10

Violating these, and any other prohibitions which will be given, would then be considered profaning the Sabbath. However, as we saw in a recent sermon, the priest’s continued to work on the Sabbath and yet they were held guiltless. They did not profane it.

14 (cont’t) for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.

A distinction is especially made between being put to death and being cut off from the people. A person could be cut off from the people without being put to death. The two are not synonymous. A person who offended in such a way as to put himself out of the covenant was considered an outlaw. He was to be cut off from his people. When the offense affected the nation as a whole, then the person was to be put to death.

When a person defiled the Sabbath, they actually caused more harm than may be realized. If nothing was done about his actions, it might spur others to jealousy who were not making the same money as the one who profited from the Sabbath. Further, it would then spur them on to profane the Sabbath as well, knowing that nothing would be done about their actions.

Eventually, the infection would spread, and the people in general would come to this same conclusion. What was a sign to the people would cease being a sign. They would no longer know that it was the Lord who sanctified them, they would no longer fear the Lord, and they would quickly turn from Him to profane worship. This will be noted later today in a passage from Nehemiah.

I am the Lord who sanctifies you
In Me you shall find your rest
What I look for is faith that is true
And in this, I shall put you to the test

I am the Lord, pay heed unto Me
For I will give you a Day of rest
If you will simply trust, you will see
That in My presence you will be eternally blessed

Come unto Me, you who are weary
And in My presence there will be peaceful rest
Come unto Me, leave your life so dreary
If the land of Paradise-restored is your hope-filled quest

II. A Sabbath of Rest, Holy to the Lord (verses 15-17)

15 Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord.

These words of verse 15 form the middle of the chiasm. The term Shabbat Shabbaton, or “rest of restfulness,” gives the idea of complete restfulness.  The Pulpit Commentary translates this as, “but in the seventh is complete rest.”

These words, Shabbat Shabbaton, are a particular term used only seven times in Scripture. It is applied to the Sabbath here and two other times – to the Day of Atonement twice in Leviticus, and to the Sabbatical year in Leviticus. Each of these is only a prefiguring shadow of the work of Christ. That the term is mentioned seven times shows us the spiritual perfection of Christ’s work.

The repetition of Shabbat in Shabbat Shabbaton, using an abstract form of the fixed noun, gives the idea of that which is superlative. Thus, the term “high Sabbath” is used of it in John’s gospel. There he says –

“Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” John 19:31

It was a Sabbath, but it also occurred in conjunction with another feast day. Thus John highlighted the day. It truly was the Lord’s Sabbath as He was secreted away in a cave to rest after His great time of work culminating in what we know as the Passion.

In this, it needs to be noted that the life of Israel was working towards a Sabbath. As the verse says, “Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest.” Israel worked and then rested. Just as God worked, and then rested – six followed by one, Israel was to work and then rest – six followed by one.

15 (cont’t) Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

With these words, the chiasm begins its backward descent from the high point of the previous words. This clause forms two separate parts of that chiasm. The first is that of working on the Sabbath; the second is that of being put to death.

The sequence of thought is 1) The infraction – working on the Sabbath; 2) The penalty – mowt yumat, “dying he shall die.” Think about the structure of the chiasm. Line d is an explanatory sentence. Line e is the penalty for the infraction. Line f is what the infraction is.

The first half of the chiasm explains the requirement. It then gives the naming of the punishment first and then the reason for the punishment. The second half of the chiasm does the opposite. It gives the reason for the punishment, then the naming of the punishment, and then the explanatory basis for the sequence.

The middle is the anchor of the two halves.

What is the Lord showing us? If it is about Christ, as we know it is, then there is a reason for the chiastic structure. Keep thinking. The sermon is half over. Until we finish, let’s continue analyzing… The severity of the punishment which is mandated brings a few thoughts to mind. The first is, “Was this punishment ever meted out?”

The answer is that, “Yes, it was.” It is common for a precept to be laid out in the Bible and then an example of punishment for violation to be noted. For the Sabbath, the punishment is recorded in Numbers 14 –

“Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. 34 They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him.

35 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died.’” Numbers 14:32-36

The second question is, “Are all violations of this standard which are noted in Scripture handled with the same punishment?” The answer is, “No.” In Nehemiah 13:15, we read –

“In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions.”

The third question is, “Are we today required to observe the Sabbath?” If so, what are we doing in church on Sunday instead of Saturday? That will be answered later.

The fourth question is, “For those who claim that the Sabbath is still in effect, meaning the Jews and aberrant cults like the Seventh Day Adventists and various messianic groups, why are they mandating the word of the Lord concerning the Sabbath, but not upholding the word of the Lord by putting their Sabbath breakers to death?” Is their disobedience in this any less damaging than failing to adhere to the requirement of the Sabbath itself?

16 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath

These words correspond to line d on the chiasm. The word “therefore” simply says “and” in the Hebrew. The sentence, although explanatory, is more a reaffirmation of the importance of the requirement than being an overall explanation of what has thus far been said.

Israel is again commanded to keep the Sabbath and to observe the Sabbath. The repetition is a stress in itself. The honoring of the Sabbath was to be as important to them as was life in the day itself. We cherish Today because it is the day we are in. It is the moment in which we exist. The observance of the Sabbath was to be just as important and cherished as that state of existence.

To understand this, I can give the example of what Jim and I do on Saturday. Every Saturday, the two of us, along with Tom Alley, do mission work in the projects. At times, people come along with us. It is not their Saturday except for the Saturday that they come. However, for Tom, Jim, and me – it is our Saturday. To not be there is the exception for us. For any others, to be there is the exception for them. Israel’s Saturday was to be their Sabbath, without exception. And it was to be…

16 (con’t) throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.

These words correspond to line c on the chiasm. Again, the idea of the Sabbath was to continue on for the generations to come. However, as we saw earlier, the idea of something continuing throughout the generations does not mean eternally. There is a point where the practice of these generations was to end.

As long as it was in force, it was however, to be a berith olam, or a covenant perpetual. As long as the generations to whom this requirement was assigned were in existence, the requirement stood. The covenant was made at Sinai and it remained in effect until it was superseded by the New Covenant.

The word olam, or perpetual, gives the idea of “to the vanishing point.” Whatever that point was, it was to continue to it. The same term berith olam, or covenant perpetual, was given to Abraham concerning circumcision, something no longer required.

17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever;

These words correspond to line b on the chiasm. We continue to move away from the middle anchor verse, but the precept remains the same. The rest of the Sabbath is to be an owth, a sign. A sign, as I said, points to something else. It is not the thing itself, but stands as representative of the thing. The rest was to be this sign and it was to be so until the vanishing point.

17 (cont’t) for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,

This is not included in the chiasm, but it explains the final line. In order for there to be rest, there was first work. As God worked six days in creating, Israel was to work six days with the creation. The six days were intended to lead to the anticipated seventh…

17 (con’t) and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”

On the seventh day, the Lord rested. Without a doubt, the Lord, meaning Yehovah, has been seen countless times already to be Jesus. He is the incarnate Word of God. He is the Lord in the flesh. In His creative efforts, He made the heavens and the earth, and then He rested. And along with that, it says He “was refreshed.”

The word is naphash. Literally, “He took breath.” This is the only time the word is used in this remarkable way in the Bible as being ascribed to the Lord. After the immense work of creation, the Lord took time to catch His breath and to admire the handiwork which He had so marvelously brought into existence.

The connection between this line of the chiasm and the first line is that it is the Sabbath which the Lord claims as His, and it is the seventh day on which He took His rest. The two are intimately and intricately tied together.

A time of rest for the weary soul
A time to stop and contemplate Jesus
Our Lord, Our God – our Aim, our Goal
The longing desire for each of us

To rest in Him, sweet and sublime
To be still in His presence, safe and secure
For the ages of ages; for all time
Blessed assurance – holy and pure

Oh! To know Christ and to seek Him more
To ponder His majesty as together we rest
Come to Him all you weak, weary, and poor
Find peace and joy, in His comfort be blessed

III. The Tablets of the Testimony (verse 18)

18 And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony,

Everything that has been presented since Exodus 25:1 has been for the reception of these two tablets. After the call for the people to provide materials, the very first thing that was described to Moses was the construction of the Ark of the Testimony and then the Mercy seat. In verse 25:16, after the details for the construction of the Ark, it said, “And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.”

Then again in verse 25:21, after the details were given for the Mercy Seat, the Lord said, “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you.” Every single thing after that was described for the purpose of building a tabernacle and a sanctuary for these stone tablets and then for the conduct of the services and rites associated with that sanctuary. With that speaking for instruction now complete, it says that the tablets were then given to Moses. These tablets were…

18 (con’t) tablets of stone,

lukhot eben, “tablets of stone.” The fact that they are stone is to give the idea of permanence. What is written on them is fixed and is unchanging. That there were two tablets shows something more though. Two in the Bible is the number of difference. In the number, there is a contrast, and yet there is a confirmation.

The precepts of the Ten Commandments fall under two distinct categories. The first five follow a basic pattern of filial obedience, as children to their parents. The first four were directed to God, but in them and in keeping them, they were as children honoring their heavenly Father. The fifth was specifically in honoring of one’s parents. The second set of five deal with interpersonal relationships between man and his fellow man. The contents contrast, and yet they confirm God’s expectations for man.

These two tablets, which are made of stone and which are to be secreted away in the Ark also have another defining characteristic. These were…

*18 (fin) written with the finger of God.

The tablets themselves were made by God, and the writing upon them, which was set in stone, was written by God. They are the law of God which is set and unchanging. Once written, they are set, fixed, and complete. There were 172 words which detailed God’s expectations for man to live in His presence.

However, that they were stone also showed that they could be broken. The words would still be there, but they would be violated if broken. And in fact, Moses will break the first set. And so a second set will need to be made. However, the second set will be made by Moses. This is recorded in Exodus 34:1 –

“Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.”

Later, in the same chapter, the Lord writes on those new tablets –

“So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Exodus 34:28

In this we are given a picture of our spiritual state. The laws are permanent, but are capable of being broken. And in fact, God knew that man would break them. God created Adam, pictured by the first set of tablets, and Adam broke God’s law.

Moses made the second set, picturing Christ, coming from the stream of humanity, and yet He never broke God’s law. In both, the law was written by God, but only in Christ does the law remain unbroken. Adam Clarke, at least partially picked up on this when he wrote concerning the giving of these tablets to Moses –

“It is evident therefore that this writing was properly and literally the writing of God himself. God wrote now on tables of stone what he had originally written on the heart of man, and in mercy he placed that before his eyes which by sin had been obliterated from his soul; and by this he shows us what, by the Spirit of Christ, must be rewritten in the mind.” Adam Clarke

The giving of this law, at the end of the directions for the sanctuary, is the fulfillment of what the sanctuary anticipated. All of the details looked forward to Christ, but without the law which Christ fulfilled, there would remain an eternal disconnect between God and man. Only when this law was placed in the Ark and covered by the Mercy Seat, could there be a restoration of that fellowship which was lost in Adam.

In the pages of the Bible, we are hardly there yet, but in type, shadow, and picture, we are getting there with each new passage which speaks of Christ, and which is leading us to Him. And so this passage and the chapter close out with these final words. But we are still missing something. We have not yet correctly answered the question which has eluded those great scholars we cited earlier.

Why was the seemingly disconnected subject of the Sabbath placed here, in the overall theme of the preparation for the Sanctuary? John Lange came very close to answering the enigma when he said –

“It should also be observed that in 35:1 sqq. the command respecting the Sabbath recurs again, and this time precedes the order concerning the erection of the tabernacle. The Sabbath belonged as essentially to the tabernacle and the temple as the Christian Sunday to Christian worship.—A sign between me and you.” John Lange

Just after receiving the details of the sanctuary from the Lord, the subject of the Sabbath is brought up. And then, just prior to Moses conveying the details of the sanctuary which he received, he will say this to the people –

“These are the words which the Lord has commanded you to do: Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” Exodus 35:1-3

The Sabbath is being intricately and intimately tied into the sanctuary. The sanctuary is where the Lord is to reside. It signifies that He is dwelling among the people. The greatest punishment of all for Israel was exile from the presence of the Lord. But this is exactly what was promised for disobedience. In that promise the Lord states the following in Leviticus 26:33-35 –

“I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you;
your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.
34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land;
then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.
35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—
for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.”

The reason for the Sabbath’s inclusion here is because it, like every other detail which has been given in the past six chapters, ultimately points to Christ – His Person and His work, for us. The chiasm itself hints at this.

In the Old Covenant, man worked and then rested. In the New Covenant, man rests and then works. A picture is made of the process of salvation in the two dispensations. Israel worked six days and then rested on the Sabbath. It was an anticipation of the time of rest which lay ahead when all things would be restored.

With Christ’s coming we rest on the first day of the week in honor of His finished work, and then we conduct our work week. This is why in the first half of the chiasm, line e gives the penalty – death, and then line f gives the reason for the penalty – working on the Sabbath.

Whereas in the second half of the chiasm, the order is reversed. First is noted the reason for the penalty – working, and then is given the penalty – death. Our rest is in Christ and what He has done. We have died to the law; we now live in Christ.

If we work in an attempt to please God, we are cut off from God. But if we accept Christ’s work, we are saved by grace and through faith. Works are excluded. They can only condemn, not save. The book of Hebrews explains the rest of God in great detail. In Chapter 4 we read these words –

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” Hebrews 4:1-5

Speaking of those who had been disobedient, the word says that “They shall not enter My rest.” But for those who have believed, verse 3 says, “For we who have believed do enter that rest.” Everything about the sanctuary centers on Jesus.

All of it points to our return to Eden and into God’s rest which is from the foundation of the world. Now, by faith in Christ we do enter that rest. Like the sanctuary itself, the Sabbath is obsolete because Christ has come. This then explains why the Sabbath is included in these sanctuary instructions. It is a part of the rites of the law; the law is fulfilled; it is set aside.

Because of this, works are excluded. And for those Jews who have missed the grace train, to this day they are still working, having failed to trust in Christ. They exist in this new dispensation, that of grace, and thus are cut off from His provision.

However, the Bible tells us of their coming day of restoration. They will finally, after 2000 years, call on Him as a nation. They will be brought into the covenant, and they will enter their time of rest. This is what we call “the millennium.” In this, we see that the Sabbath is a sign between the Lord and Israel.

The great Sabbath is coming in the final dispensation of time as we know it. The world has been at war and in strife for six thousand years, but when the nation of Israel calls out for their Messiah, He will return to them. The Sabbath is a sign between the Lord and Israel because it pictures something else. It pictures that truly wondrous time on earth when wars will cease, where –

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:6-9

This then explains the rare term of verse 18, naphash. Literally, “He took breath.” The Lord will sit on His throne in Jerusalem and will take His breath. His work will be fully complete in the restoration of all things for that marvelous millennial period.

This, however, also explains why the priests were held guiltless, even when working on the Sabbath. It pictures Christ’s continued role, at all times, as our great High Priest. The priests of Old, only pointed to the true Priest – Christ. Insightfully, Matthew Poole shows that the Sabbath of Israel was a fivefold sign to Israel –

  1. Commemorative, of God’s creation of and dominion over them and all other things.
    2. Indicative, showing that they were made to be holy, and that their sanctification can be had from none but from God.
    3. Distinctive, whereby they owned themselves to be the Lord’s peculiar people.
    4. Prefigurative, of that rest which Christ should purchase for them.
    5. Confirmative, both assuring them of God’s good will to them, and that as he blessed the sabbath for their sakes, so he would bless them in the holy use of it with temporal, spiritual, and everlasting blessings. Matthew Poole (amended)

He noted that it was only prefigurative of Christ and the rest that He would purchase for them. We are still awaiting the day when they will see this, but maybe one of you has yet to receive it as well. He has already done the work. All we need to do is simply reach out by faith and grab it.

If you are here and feel that you have to somehow merit God’s favor by some work or another, the Bible shows that you have missed the mark. God has done the work in Christ. Trust in that and be found pleasing to God by simple belief in His mighty deeds, accomplished by Christ and just for you…

Closing Verse: So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Colossians 2:16, 17

Next Week: Exodus 32:1-10 Worshipping anything but the Lord will leave you baron… (The Golden Calf – The Testing of Aaron) (89th Exodus sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Law of the Sabbath

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying
These are the words He was relaying

Speak also to the children of Israel, saying:
Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, so shall it be
For it is a sign between Me and you
Throughout your generations, as commanded by Me

That you may know that I am the Lord
Who sanctifies you, and so pay heed to My word

You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore
For it is holy to you
Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death
This is what you are to do

For whoever does any work on it
That person shall be cut off from among his people
So to you I submit

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, according to My word

Therefore the children of Israel
Shall keep the Sabbath, so shall they do
To observe the Sabbath throughout their generations
As a perpetual covenant; a covenant between Me and you

It is a sign between Me
And the children of Israel forever; thus we are enmeshed
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth
And on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed

And when He had made an end
Of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, no more could Moses linger
He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony
Tablets of stone, written with God’s finger

O God, again we come to Your word
To search it out for what You would of us expect
And in so searching we find our precious Lord
And in Him, only grace and mercy can we detect

For those who have trusted in Jesus
We have the surest hope of all
Magnificent, wondrous things He has done for us
Because upon His precious name, we did call

How can such love be, O God?
Surely it is exceeds heaven’s highest height
And so for sending Jesus we joyously applaud
Because through Him, all things are new –
Once again all things are right

Hallelujah and Amen…