Study Notes

Exodus 35:1-35


After a second set of 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai with the Lord, Moses told the people to do everything that the Lord had spoken to him. As we pick up in chapter 35, we see Moses giving the people detailed instruction about what is required of them by God.

35:1-3 The Sabbath

Before detailing all the work that is to be done FOR the Lord, Moses makes sure that they understand the rest that is to be had IN the Lord. The Sabbath day rest. From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, they are to do no work. It is to be a complete rest - don't even start a fire.

So far in Exodus, we have seen the incredible importance that God has placed on the Sabbath day for the Israelites. We've talked about all the major points in regards to the Sabbath as we've gone through this book - about how it first appeared 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.

We discussed how the Sabbath rest was first introduced to the Israelites by the collection of the bread from heaven, the manna. Every day when they collected it, it would supernaturally be exactly an omer for each person in their tent. But on the 6th day, it was two omers - twice as much as they needed. God had provided so they wouldn't have to work to collect it on the 7th day. Moses explained,

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.

God underlined the importance of the Israelites' observance of the sabbath in chapter 20 by including it in the Ten Commandments.

Then in chapter 31, God explained that their observance of the sabbath was a sign that the Israelis were His chosen people - a sign to remind them that the Lord had set them apart.

And finally, back in chapter 34, we saw that it didn't matter how busy you were:

Exod. 34:21 "You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; {even} during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.

We've also discussed the question of whether Christians are under obligation to keep the Sabbath. Referring back to the Council at Jerusalem in Acts 15, we saw that the few rules given to to Gentile Christians did not include the observance of the sabbath.

And Paul said in Romans that sabbath observance was up to us individually:

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 the Israelites are here being reminded about the rest in God before being commanded about the work for God.

35:4-9 A Contribution To The Lord

It really amazes me how controversial the subject of "giving to God" is. Some churches beg and bleed the people. Others won't discuss it at all, just having a box in the back.

But this is the way Moses took up the offering: He spoke to all the congregation, He told them that the Lord had commanded it, and then left it up to whoever had a willing heart.

These three things are how we should be encouraging the contribution today.

#1) Speaking to all the congregation. As the subject arises in Scripture, I am not afraid to discuss giving to God. I don't only talk to the "regulars" - whoever happens to be in the sanctuary that day hears the teaching. If someone gets upset that I'm talking about giving to God, then that is a problem with their rebellion against Him, not me. All I'm doing is teaching the Word verse by verse as it comes along. If the Scriptures are talking about baptism, I'll teach baptism. If the Scriptures are talking about the sovereignty of God, then I'll teach on the sovereignty of God. If the Scriptures are talking about tithes, offerings, contributions, and stewardship, then that's what I'll teach on.

If some in the congregation get upset, then I'm not going to take it personally. It's the Word of God that they're rebelling against, not me.

#2) The Lord has commanded. Over and over in Scripture, we see that God has commanded that we give to Him.

The Israelites that were under the Law had tithes and offerings required of them that amounted to over 20% of their annual incomes. Those who held back were told that they were robbing God.

In the New Testament as well, we are told that everything we have belongs to God. We're just stewards of it. It's not that we're giving 10 or 20 percent to Him. It's that He's allowing us to keep 80 or 90 percent of it!

#3) But ultimately, it comes down to #3 - whoever is of a willing heart. Moses only wanted contributions from those who were willing to contribute. Paul told the Corinthian church,

2Cor. 9:6-7 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

The Greek word for "cheerful" actually means "hilarious." If you can't give to the Lord with a hilarious, cheerful heart, then don't give. There's few things more destructive to your relationship with God than begrudgingly writing a check that you don't want to give. It builds up hostility, resentment, and bitterness towards God's church, God's people, and God Himself. If you don't want to give it, then keep it. It's as simple as that.

What We Need

Notice too that it wasn't just gold and silver that were to be brought. There was a list of things that were practically needed for the tabernacle. Often, it is better for everyone involved if we say, "Hey, we need this or that" rather than buying it with money that is given. Often, someone in the congregation has an extra this or that to give, which amounts to better stewardship of the funds that we have.

35:10-19 Every Skillful Man

Here too, giving to God wasn't limited to finances and furnishings. It included hours, perspiration, and dedication. We are called to donate our time as well as our money to God's service.

Moses called every skillful man to make the parts of the tabernacle. "Well, I'm not skillful. I hit my thumb every time I pick up a hammer." That's okay, then - we won't give you a hammer. But everyone's been gifted by God in ways.

And we've got all sorts of needs here. If you want to dedicate yourself to serving God physically as well as financially, ask yourself what you can do. Can you sew? Garden? Paint? Wash dishes? Run a vacuum? Work with wood? Do electrical? Hang a door? Cut carpet? Clean a carpet? Sweep? Mop? Set up chairs? Drive someone to church? If you can do anything at all, talk to me - odds are, there's a need that you can meet here serving God.

35:20-29 Bringing The Contribution

This is the way it is supposed to work - God's minister says, "we have a need," and the people eagerly meet that need. Notice that it was both the men and the women whose hearts were stirred up to give and to serve. Everyone brought a freewill offering to the Lord - no one was grudgingly compelled.

35:30-35 Gifted By God

Bezalel and Oholiab were specially gifted to do certain tasks in the construction of the tabernacle. Some people are what we call "naturally" gifted - God has given them abilities to do things that seem to come to them like second nature. But others of us must receive instruction to gain these skills. Notice that the guys that God "naturally" gifted were also called to teach others to do the same things.

We talked about those abilities that you have to serve God with. In addition to asking you the question, "Are you serving God with those abilities" is the inquiry, "Are you teaching others the skills that you've been given by God?"

In the book of 1Chronicles, when the ark was being brought to the tabernacle's permanent place in Jerusalem, we read of Ken-an-YAW, who was the chief of the Levites.

1Chr. 15:22 And Chenaniah , chief of the Levites, was {in charge of} the singing; he gave instruction in singing because he was skillful.

Are you instructing others in the areas that you are skillful in? As Jesus said in Matthew 10,

Matt. 10:8 "...freely you received, freely give."

Let us be people that pass along the skills which God has freely given to us.

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