Nothing is that important: Exodus 31
The last ten chapters of the book of Exodus have focused on instructions about how to build the Tabernacle and its associated materials. Yet there has been something missing throughout the instructions.
You have to have someone to put it all together. It is not very different from the kitchen: I have stacks and stacks of cookbooks, but I cannot cook like the authors of those books. For example, I’ve got all 3 of Alton Brown’s Good Eats Cookbooks, but you’d rather have him cook then me.
Well, with the instructions of the Tabernacle, it takes the right person to put the directions into reality. It is, though, not Moses. It’s not Joshua or Aaron or any of the priests. It’s a guy named Bezalel and another one named Oholiab. These are some great names, aren’t they?
These men, though, are specified by God as the ones to handle the craftsmanship of the Tabernacle and furnishings. Different views float around about whether or not these two had training or whether or not it was a completely supernatural anointing. I find it likely that it was a combination of both: a supernatural gifting that was reinforced through training and practice.
So, we have the Tabernacle directions. We have the Tabernacle builder. We have the necessity of the Tabernacle, as the centralized point of meeting with God in the community.
Yet immediately after all of this is summarized we have a restatement of the laws of the Sabbath. A reminder to take one day of the week and commit the time of that day solely to the Lord God.
Even in the midst of the most important things we can think of, it is never more important than following the commands of God. Whatever justification we may make for it, moving in violation of God’s expressed commands is not what we should be doing.
What most of us forget is that nearly every relationship has rules and guidelines about it. Even the best of relationships has those. Whether it is the relationship between husband and wife, parents and children, or just casual friendships, you have understood guidelines for it. The closer the relationship, the more important those guidelines to it.
Think about it: while you may be bothered when your work acquaintance violates your trust, you would feel quite different about your best friend or your spouse doing the same thing. You can imagine letting the one friendship slide, but the other would be devastating to either let go or rebuild.
Those guidelines, rules, whatever you’d like to call them are part of the glue that holds your relationship in place. They help you know what you can and cannot do, what you should or should not do, and what you can expect from the other person.
Now, when we talk about having a relationship with God, why would we expect it to be different? There is this instant revulsion to the idea that a relationship with God comes with no rules or expectations, that this one relationship is completely unlike any other relationship you have.
It is different, but not because it lacks the covenantal nature of other relationships, but because one side of the relationship never fails on His part. That God upholds His part perfectly does not mean that we do not have expectations on our part and we need to not forget that.
What’s the point?
This is the simple point: no accomplishment should be made at the expense of your most important relationships. Even if it is something that you are doing for the person. If it pushes beyond what is right for your interactions with each other, then it’s not worth doing.
Likewise, do not mistake doing stuff for God with living in covenantal relationship with Him. The former may be good, but the latter is indispensible.
Today’s Nerd Note: There are only a few specific guidelines on “Sabbath-keeping” in the Old Testament. Those statements, though, are pretty exhaustive: they use words like “any” “all” or “nothing.” Now, I do not think we should just lie about in bed all day one day a week, but I do think there is a reason that God commanded a day without any extraneous activity except for worship. If we let everything else roam on its own, we will overlook taking the time. Be cautious. Whatever you take on every day may crowd out that which is more important.