Study Notes

Exodus 31:1-18

31:1-11 Spirit Of Wisdom

Bezalel ("Bets-al-ALE"), the son of Uri ("Oo-REE"), the son of Hur ("Khoor"). Remember Aaron and Hur holding up Moses' arms during the Israelites' battle with the Amalekites? Hur's grandson is called by name and appointed to make the furniture, engravings, and other artistic necessities requiring great craftsmanship. The Lord says,

Exod. 31:3 "...I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship...

Oholiab ("OH-hol-ee-AWB"), the son of Ahisamach ("Akhee-saw-MAWK") is also called, as well as everyone else that was skillful, for He said,

Exod. 31:6 " the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you

What does this tell us about "natural-born ability," about "talented" people? That God has gifted them.

James 1:17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.

It is God's decision to gift a man, but it is man's decision to use those gifts to glorify God... Have you been blessed with talents and abilities? Do you use your gifts to glorify God? Maybe you play an instrument or sing. Maybe you have abilities as a carpenter or an architect. Maybe you are blessed with a talent for cooking. Are you using these things only to benefit yourself? Or are you using them to bless God, His people, and His kingdom? Something to pray about and commit to Him.

31:12-17 The Sabbath

"Shahb-BAT" in the Hebrew comes from "shaw-BAT," which means "to rest" or "to cease."

The idea of the Sabbath rest first appears in Genesis 2, when God made the world in six days, and rested on the seventh.

Gen. 2:2-3 And by the seventh day God completed 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.

The Sabbath rest was first introduced to the Israelites in regards to the manna. On the 6th day, the Lord supernaturally provided twice as much as they needed. The leaders of the congregation came to Moses and told him about it, and he explained,

Exod. 16:23 ..."This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD...

God had provided so they wouldn't have to work to collect it on the 7th day.

Exod. 16:29-30 "See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." So the people rested on the seventh day.

At the giving of the Ten Commandments, the sabbath was then solidified into Law:

Exod. 20:8-11 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; {in it} you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

God expounds further on it here in chapter 31, saying that their observance of it is a sign that the Israelis are God's chosen people. It was not a sign for others to see, but for themselves to be reminded that the Lord had set them apart.

Christians And The Sabbath

The question inevitably arises among Christians: "Are we under obligation to keep the Sabbath?" Some extremely legalistic Christian groups insist that we must absolutely keep the Sabbath. However, their translation of that observance usually amounts to you having to go to church on Saturday rather than Sunday. Does this sabbath ordinance apply to the church? The short answer is no.

Remember that the Gentiles in the church were having trouble because some of the Jews were insisting that they must observe the Jewish Law. The council at Jerusalem met, and Peter said,

Acts 15:10 " ...Why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?"

James concurred, deciding to give them only a few rules that they should observe to keep from stumbling their fellow believers that were Jews. He said,

Acts 15:19-20 "Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood."

So the Sabbath was not commanded for the Gentile Christians to follow.

But should we keep it anyway? Hey, if you want to observe the Sabbath or not, that is up to you. Romans 14 says,

Rom. 14:5-6 One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord...

So if you worship and rest on Saturday as the Jews do, God bless you. If you worship and rest on Sunday as the early church did, God bless you. I'll not judge you in regards to your choice. Colossians 2 reiterates this, saying,

Col. 2:16-17 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Maybe we should touch a little on exactly what Paul means here, since we're discussing the Sabbath, and have been going through Exodus with the wider visions and representations: heavenly, typological, and prophetic things. The Sabbath is one of the things in Exodus that Paul says was a shadow of what was to come - that the substance belongs to Christ. Hebrews 4 is the chapter that you'll want to track this down on your own, but the basic gist is that the Sabbath prophetically points to our final rest in Christ:

Hebr. 4:9-11 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest...

So there will come a day when we enjoy the Sabbath - the time of rest - with God. Let's be diligent to work now, in anticipation of the rest then.

I believe that's a fairly comprehensive look at the Sabbath, at least in regards to the seventh day sabbath. We will encounter more types of Sabbaths as we continue through the Scriptures.

31:18 The Two Tablets Of The Testimony

The two tablets of the testimony. They are what we typically think of as the Ten Commandments, or at least what they were written on. God promised them to Moses a few chapters ago:

Exod. 24:12 Now the LORD said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction."

And they will be described in chapter 32:

Exod. 32:15-16 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. And the tablets were God's work, and the writing was God's writing engraved on the tablets.

They were written on both sides, front and back. This is different than we usually see them represented, with the Ten Commandments listed all on one side. It reminds me of the famous "Last Supper" painting, where everyone is on one side of the table, so we can see them all.

Unfortunately, Moses is going to break them (we'll see that next week), and new ones will have to be made. We'll see that soon, possibly next week as well.

The Finger Of God

Written by the finger of God. What an amazing statement. Can you imagine a handwriting analysis done on God's handwriting? "Obviously a person of high intelligence... has some control issues..."

There is an interesting continuity in the Scriptures regarding this statement, "the finger of God." It first appeared back in chapter 8, when Moses was up against Pharaoh's magicians. They were matching Moses, miracle-for-miracle, until the plague of gnats. They were unable to duplicate it, and told Pharaoh,

Exod. 8:19 ..."This is the finger of God."...

We never hear the magicians speak again - they were silenced. It seems that the finger of God silences His enemies. This holds true for the tablets of the testimony as well. The Law given there silences the enemies of God, making them guilty before Him:

Rom. 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God

The reason I point this out is to remind us of an incredible illustration of this happening in John 8. Remember that a mob brought an adulterous woman before Jesus. She had been caught in the act. The Law dictated that she must be killed, but Roman law forbade the Jews from inflicting capital punishment. The Pharisees knew that Jesus could not win, no matter which decision He made. What did He do?

John 8:6-9 ...Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And when they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst.

The finger of God once again silenced the enemies of God.

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