Honoring the Sabbath

12 Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

14 “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. 15 For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'” Exodus 31:12-17

This is an expansion of the Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11). The penalty for disobedience is harsh in our minds. The Lord even made a distinction between desecrating the Sabbath and those who do any work. Why is this here and why now at the end of the tent of meeting description?

According to a Pulpit Commentary at biblehub.com

“the erection of sabbath-observance into the special sacramental sign that Israel was in covenant with God made non-observance an offence of the gravest character. The man who broke the sabbath destroyed, so far as in him lay, the entire covenant between God and his people – not only broke it, but annulled it, and threw Israel out of covenant.” 

Any time Scripture is repeated is a message to us to pay attention. This commandment is no different. Work with everything you have for six days and rest on the seventh. Even if it weren’t a commandment, it’s a good practice to set into motion.

Resting, reflecting, being with your family, thinking on the great things of God and the life he’s given us.

What could be better than that?

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The Expectation of Obedience

Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— 8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— 10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.” Exodus 31:1-11

I love these passages where God calls out unknown people by name. We know nothing else about them except for their artisan skills. They must have been at the top of their game for the Lord to call them out like this. They were considered the best of the best.

Bezalel and Oholiab were in charge of the build, but at least Bezalel was filled with the Spirit and with Godly attributes, certainly an added benefit for the work they would be doing.

How did they get to be so talented, and how did they rise to the top so that the Lord would notice?

Well, He noticed because He notices everything. He’s well aware of even those things done in secret both good and bad: cutting corners, fudging numbers, the finest detail that a microscope couldn’t see, spending hours meticulously crafting a statue or painting. He sees it all, every single bit of it.

Just imagine being given such a monumental task, knowing what the Lord expected. Well, because they had earned a reputation for quality craftsmanship, they went to the head of the line. Anything they did was going to be fabulous.

We will not all be Bezalels or Oholiabs. They were the cream of the crop, but we can certainly all do our best at what we do.

Does God expect perfection? Hardly. Did He expect it for these two artisans? No, but they still needed to follow the directions He set forth. The Lord knew He would get a quality product with these two craftsmen at the helm. He also knew they would follow His directions to the tee.

His directions and guidance is there in the Word of God for a reason. We may not ever know some of those reasons, but He does desire us to be obedient. He makes it easy too with the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

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The Holy Scent

34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, 35 and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. 36 Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. 37 Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord. 38 Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their people.” Exodus 30:34-38

The same principles of a holy scent for the mixture of elements applied to the incense. A small portion of the incense was to be used around the altar, while the majority of it was to be burned, probably on the golden altar outside the vail. The penalty for private use of the incense was that the people would be cut off from the rest of the people.

The Lord told Moses that the actual incense would be holy to him as well. It was a distinctive aroma; how could it be holy to Moses?

Moses had a unique responsibility among the Israelites. People relied on him for leadership and vision. He was, by virtue of his status with the Lord Almighty, set apart from the people. Even though the people could smell the fragrance when it was burned, it was to be holy to Moses.

Moses had to set an example for the people every time the high priests sacrificed. He obviously would know the steps the priests were taking at each stage of the sacrifice. He knew what was going and why because he had been face to face with the Lord Almighty. None in that camp could say that. He probably would never lord that over the people, but he probably couldn’t have normal relationships with them either. He was set apart.

It’s easy to become careless and cavalier in our walk with Christ. Over time if we’re not careful, we lose our “edge,” our passion. We, like the church in the Book of Revelation, lose our first love (Revelation 2:4). I’m not at all suggesting we lose our salvation, but our passion for Christ.

Are there things we say and do or watched that would not have done 20 years ago or even five years ago? Are we compromising our beliefs in little ways to accommodate others? I’m not saying we are, but merely asking the question.

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Spices and Oil and Tabernacle Articles, Oh My!

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. 26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, 27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. 29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.

30 “Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. 31 Say to the Israelites, ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. 32 Do not pour it on anyone else’s body and do not make any other oil using the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. 33 Whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.'” Exodus 30:22-33

Moses was to use this oil concoction to anoint Aaron and his sons only. The special blend could not be used anywhere else except in the tabernacle and on those high priests.

Separately they were spices and olive oil, but together they were holy and pleased the Lord. Those spices served a purpose.

Everything inside the tabernacle served a purpose and was there for a reason, including the fragrant oil for altar articles!

I cam across an old saying recently, “Don’t throw away a piece of the puzzle just because you don’t know where it fits.”

This COVID-19 virus is one large illustration. We have no idea how or why or why now this virus came into being.

God is still sovereign and on the throne.

This economic collapse didn’t catch him off guard. Just as we see no use in oiling altar articles, God had a purpose for it.

He has a purpose for what is happening right now even if it’s not related to the virus.

Trust in Him to lead you every step of the way.

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Washing and Waiting

17 Then the Lord said to Moses, 18 “Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it. 20 Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting a food offering to the Lord, 21 they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.” Exodus 30:17-21

Everyone reading this now understands the value of clean hands. At the time of this writing, the entire world understands the power of washing hands due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Aaron and his sons were to wash their hands and feet, and quite probably the altar every time they offered sacrifices. It was a ceremonial washing to remind them that they must wash and be kept clean as they ministered (John Wesley). As I noted earlier, sacrificing animals twice a day could be wearisome if they weren’t careful.

As if you needed to be reminded this week, wash those hands but let it too be a reminder of the battle we’re facing as a Church. There is a spiritual battle going on for the hearts and minds of men, women, and children around the world today. The world’s solution is to try to wash our hands, but God wants us to wash our hearts and to turn to Him.

Today it’s a virus; tomorrow it could be an all out war. The enemy is seeking to devour you.

Stand firm in your faith.

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Hebrews 11:6

Don’t be discouraged of recent world events.

Continue to fill up that angel’s censer with your prayers.

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