(Exodus 31, John 10; Optional Psalm 55, Proverbs 15:1-4)
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EXODUS 31 – God 1) gave INSTRUCTIONS to Moses regarding building the Tabernacle and its furnishings, 2) let Moses see the perfect example in the heavenly templates (Ex 25:9, 40, Heb 8:5, 9:23), and now 3) has equipped craftsmen, filled with God’s Spirit, to implement God’s instructions. Ex 31:2 lists the chief craftsman as Bezalel, v 6 lists Oholiab as chief assistant and then mentions more helpers that God has especially gifted with ability. A beautiful illustration of how God’s Spirit equips the church with everything needed (1 Cor 12:4-27).
Ex 31:12-17 – Yahweh reaffirms the importance of the weekly Sabbath (also see Ex 20:8-11, Ex 35:1-3).
Ex 31:14 – Between this and Ex 35:1-3, they were carefully warned. But someone stubbornly did their own thing anyway and was executed (at the direct command of God) for picking up sticks on the Sabbath – see Num 15:32-36. You can see why the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time moved to execute Him, and why it was such a clear claim to divinity (that He is fully God, in the flesh) the way Jesus talked about the Sabbath (see Jn 5:16-18, Mark 2:28 and its context).
Ex 31:16-17 – “forever” – So do Christians (especially Jewish Christians who recognize Messiah Jesus) still need to keep a Saturday Sabbath? Or is it OK to move the day of rest to Sunday in a weekly remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection? Or is it OK to rest EVERY DAY in the rest God provides and not have a particular day? I believe that the answer to ALL these is found in Col 2:16-17 and Romans 14 – these are matters of conscience. But what about “forever” referring to the Sabbath to be kept by Jewish folks? See Lev 16:34 where the Day of Atonement is commanded “forever”. But the whole book of Hebrews is clear that the whole sacrificial system is gloriously FULFILLED in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, and that EVERY DAY is now a reminder of the FULL ATONEMENT we have in Jesus! So that implies that “forever” CAN mean until something is fulfilled / surpassed in Christ (see also Matt 5:17). Because of Col 2:16-17 and Heb 3-4 (which REPEATEDLY talks of a rest available TODAY and every day for those who come to Jesus), I believe the Sabbath has been fulfilled in Christ, as believers can rest EVERY DAY in His finished work! But some will have an urge (and should follow it or be disobedient to God) that they can and should set apart a day to consciously and physically rest. Here are my notes from Ex 20 regarding the Sabbath…
[… Remember that the command to rest on Saturday came here in Exodus 20 to a nation newly freed by God and being established now on HIS law. So they could (and now, after Exodus 20, they MUST) follow commands to not work on Saturday. When Jesus came to earth, however, MANY of His followers were slaves and their owners wouldn’t have allowed ANY days off. So there are no New Testament commands to observe a full day each week. Since Jesus rose from the dead early Sunday morning, from earliest days the church would meet then and have a mini resurrection celebration, singing some songs together, applying the apostles’ teaching of how the Scriptures should shape their lives together. Then many had to go back to work, and they were NOT to live in shame (afraid they were breaking God’s sabbath law), because their Sabbath rest came every day in resting in the finished work of Jesus.
But other believers COULD still observe a full day of physical rest, and after prayerful consideration (see Rom 14) felt they still should. Some have felt convicted to take Sunday off (in honor of Jesus’ resurrection), while others still observe the Saturday sabbath like in Exodus 20. Prayerfully study Romans 14 (especially v 5-12) and Col 2:11-23 and then obey God without judging your brothers and sisters in Christ. …]