REST AND REFRESH
Mighty God, high and lofty, yet very near. I come to you in faith and trust, and bow before you in worship.
Read EXODUS 31
Bezalel and Oholiab
31 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.”
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.’”
18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me … find rest for your souls.’1
Our daughter Anna is an artist, gifted in watercolor and oil painting. She has connected with other painters, some of whom feel disconnected from the church as they pursue their inner artistic visions. That’s why the beginning of this passage is so striking to me; from atop Mount Sinai, God affirms two artists, Bezalel and Oholiab, making it clear that their work is integral to the kind of worship setting he has in mind for his people. It is an artist, Bezalel, who is the first person in the Bible described as being filled with the Spirit (v 3).
God finishes his extended message to Moses by expanding on the fourth commandment: ‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.’2 Over the years, Christians have debated what ‘keeping it holy’ means in practice. Am I allowed to go shopping, play sports, do a few work emails? Here in chapter 31, God is blunt about the Old Testament consequences of desecrating the Sabbath (v 14) and it’s a bit unsettling. The helpful addition is the underlying purpose of the Sabbath, ‘so that you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy’ (v 13). My Sunday pattern involves a longer than usual quiet time in the morning, a workout while listening to a Tim Keller sermon on my iPhone, attending worship services at our church, reading a good book in the afternoon, and ending the day with a 2-mile prayer walk. For me, that combination is restful and refreshing (v 17).
We have now come to the end of God’s thundering message from Sinai. After such a dramatic mountaintop experience (v 18) we might think his people would never forget and always obey his Word. Human nature, however, doesn’t work that way, as we shall soon find out.
Has your pattern on Sunday changed over the years? If so, how and why? How could you creatively use next Sunday as a restful, refreshing day with God?
Lord, I claim the promise for those who wait upon you (Isa. 40:31): moments of exaltation, periods of steady devotion, and times of empowering strength.
1 Matt 11:28,29 2 Exod 20:8
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