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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Exodus 31

 

 

Verses 1-18

GOD'S CHOICE OF WORKMAN

(vs.1-11)

God now announced whom He Himself has called to do the work in building the tabernacle, men who could be depended on to fully follow God's instructions. No one was allowed to take this honor on himself, but he must receive it directly from God (Hebrews 5:4). How important it is that God's work should be done by God's workmen. All human credentials are nothing in the work of God. Only God's credentials count.

This is true too in the building of the Church of God. Paul was a wise master builder who laid the foundation of that building fully according to God's instructions (1 Corinthians 3:10). The foundation is Christ (v.11), and Paul has laid down the full truth concerning Christ in all His relationships, in the Word of God which lives and abides forever. The truth therefore is complete in the Word of God, and we must take it as it stands, not daring to add to it or depreciate from it.

Bezaleel was the chief artisan, whom God had filled with His Spirit, giving him "wisdom in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, silver and copper, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship" (vs.3-4). This was not merely a man who could be called a jack of all trades," but rather a master of all trades. Such an unusual man could only be the result of God's special working, as was certainly true of Paul the apostle.

God had also appointed with Bezaleel another able man, Aholiab (v.6). While we may not be sure that Bezaleel is typical of Paul and Aholiab typical of Peter, yet there is an interesting analogy. Paul and Peter were specially chosen by God, Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles, Peter to Jews. Both of these speak of the house of God, Paul being, as we have seen, "a wise master builder," Peter pressing upon Jewish believers that they are "living stones," built up as a spiritual house in contrast to the material house of the Old Testament (1 Peter 2:65). Both of these worked together in godly cooperation, for God intended Jewish and Gentile believers to form one house, the Church of God, in vital unity.

But also God worked in the hearts of others in Israel, unnamed, giving skill for all the various aspects of the work. How good to know today that, not only to prominent men, but to every believer grace is given from God "according to the measure of Christ's gift" (Ephesians 4:7). Paul had various remarkable gifts which we cannot expect for everyone, but the smallest gift is yet valuable in its place, and is to be used for God in the blessing of others, the building up of the Church of God. Can we not be content to be little if we are in the place God has put us in and are doing only what He has given us ability to do? Do we have to be named so as to get some recognition from others?

Some would have work to do in the making of the tent itself, others in making the ark and the mercy seat, others in making the table with its utensils, others the lampstand and its utensils, others the altar of incense, others the altar of burnt offering and its utensils, others the laver and its base, others the garments for Aaron and his sons, and others the anointing oil and the incense. So the work was diversified. One could not say his work was more important than another's, nor could anyone consider his work as of no account. Consider what 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 has to say about the diversity of the members in the body of Christ, the Church, and the unity with which they are called upon to function.

It is not human appointment to a certain work that empowers the gifts to do their individual work in unity with the rest of the body. This can only be accomplished by the vital operation of the Spirit of God. But as the individuals were required to do their work precisely as God commanded Moses, so we too are to fully obey the Word of God in the way our work is done in connection with the Church of God. For the Spirit of God always acts in concert with the truth of the word of God.

THE SABBATH: A SIGN BETWEEN GOD AND ISRAEL

(vs.12-18)

In this place God's insistence on the keeping of the Sabbath is most appropriate. When work has been given us to do, there may be a danger of our getting carried away because of the work we are doing. One day in the week the work was therefore to cease. Even a matter so important as the building of the tabernacle was to give place to the rest that is necessary both physically and spiritually. "The Sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27), for God has true consideration for the need of physical rest, but as well as this, in man's ceasing one day a week from his work, he is intended to realize that he is not to depend on his own work but on the grace of God. This last day of the week was therefore set aside that man might have his soul specially encouraged and strengthened in the Lord.

The sabbaths were to be kept for the Lord, as a sign between God and Israel. This was not told to Gentiles, just as the law was given only to Israel, not to other nations. The sabbath therefore was a special witness to the relationship that existed between God and Israel, to be kept throughout all their generations, for the purpose of keeping Israel reminded of the greatness of the living God, who sanctified them, or set them apart for Himself.

Anyone who defiled the Sabbath was immediately under sentence of death. Whoever did any work on that day was to be cut off in death. Does this seem cruel? The answer is that any Israelite guilty of breaking the Sabbath was showing contempt for God. Whether people think lightly of this or not, this is enormous wickedness. Israel was guilty of disobeying this consistently, and rulers did not carry out God's sentence of death. Certainly people today are no less guilty when they coldly disobey the Word of God, but God deals in patient grace, not judging yet, but giving opportunity to sinners to repent and be saved.

Today believers are not under law, but under grace. We are not told to keep the Sabbath (Colossians 2:16), but by grace the first day of the week is provided by God as a day in which believers may willingly rest from their usual employment and devote the time to pleasing the Lord. No law is attached to this at all, but willing hearts will respond thankfully to such scriptures as Acts 20:7 : "on the first day of the week -- the disciples came together to bread."

Verses 16 and 17 emphasize again that it is the children of Israel who were told to keep the Sabbath as a sign between God and them, "for," it is added, "in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. "thus the Lord's working and the Lord's resting provide a basis for Israel's obedience.

God's instructions to Moses being complete, He then gave to him two tables of stone on which were written with the finger of God the ten commandments for Israel.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Exodus 31:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/exodus-31.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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