April 21-28, 1993
I would almost title this chapter, "The Work Chapter." The emphases throughout is on work and practical application of the Spirit of God: He is the spirit of willingness, wisdom and understanding. The striking thing about the whole situation of the Holy Spirit's work is that the purpose of the empowering of the Spirit is so the people can do the work of the kingdom of God. I have done a couple of mailings on this thought.
The thing that sparked me was a tape by RJR some time ago. I had always had a problem about the work of the Spirit of God until I heard the tape. All the teaching I had heard or read up until that time was that the work of the Spirit of God in a person was a "MYSTICAL" work: He caused one to read the Bible more, pray more and be more effective in "winning souls." But the "mysticism" that I was being taught about the Spirit did not line up with what I was reading. RJR's tape cleared the mess up for me.
The NT work of the Spirit certainly includes judgment and conviction of sin (Jn 16:7-11, Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.), but the OT tells us that "conviction" of sin is only a small beginning part of His work. Maybe we should say, "only the beginning of His work." According to the OT doctrine of the Spirit, His work is very practical: after the sinner is brought to Christ, the Spirit's primary work is to make the heart willing to give, to understand God's command-word and to work - do physical labour for the kingdom of God.
Thus God's grace is His Spirit at work in His people to make them willing to work hard for the Kingdom of God. It is not some mystical experience or feeling; rather, it is the desire and the ability to work and sweat for the kingdom's sake. And, for the Child of God, anything that is not done for the kingdom's sake is sin, Mat 6:33.
Note the order working up to this chapter:
1) The sin of the calf.
2) Mercy and forgiveness.
3) Giving freely and abundantly.
Thus, where sin abounds (calf), grace always abounds more (giving).
Vs. 1-3, the work begins. To me, this chapter (and the whole tabernacle project) is a good OT illustration of NT grace, Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.
1) V. 1 is a very interesting verse. Note these points:
A) wroght... plain old work. These wise hearted men went to work. It is not enough to know what to do or how to do it; one must get to work and do it. We will be held accountable for how we act upon what we know to do, To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
B) every... everyone who had wisdom used it for the glory of God.
C) in whom... the Lord placed the wisdom and understanding in the hearts of select men. This indicates that man is naturally lazy when it comes to the Lord's work or carrying on the kingdom work. Man will totally spend himself over the love of money; the Lord must move man to work in the kingdom of God.
D) how to work... I believe we are failing as a society to teach our children how to work. Work done according to all that the Lord commands is as Christian as reading the Bible or prayer. We must not underemphasis the importance of work. I have mentioned it before, but this last generation was great because they had to work or starve. Then they raised some children with a goal that the children would not have to go through what they had to go through. Now the kids are worthless.
(I have heard mentioned that the kids saw their parents working hard toward retirement and no more work, so they skipped the work and went straight to retirement. It makes no sense to me for the goal of work to be no more work. Time is precious; there is a tremendous amount of work to be done for the King's sake. I cannot imagine retiring from the King's work this side of death because I am not going to get done all I would like to do anyway. Therefore, by God's grace, I will work for the King until I have no strength to work (stopped because of physical health or death), then I will rest. Mrs Clements, April 20, 1993, mentioned to me that I am surely planning on retirement. I told her that I did not have a thing set aside and I planed to work till I dropped dead. She then said, "Retirement is not all it is cracked up to be." I will have to say that her statement is what I have observed. Folks that retire still must have something to do or they die soon thereafter. But why retire when there is so much to do?)
E) all manner of work... I do not believe this says that every one could do everything. I believe that the Lord gave specific gifts to individuals to do specific work. And in this way, all manner of work was accomplished.
F) the sanctuary... Hebrews 8 points out that the Lord Jesus Christ replaced Moses' sanctuary. It appears to me that this verse is strongly echoed in 2 Cor 12:11, 12, But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.
Ro 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;
2Co 10:13 But we will not boast of things without [our] measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.
Eph 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
According to Exodus 36:1, God gave special talents to individuals for special jobs. This doctrine is taught clearly throughout the NT: God gives special talents and skills to individuals according to His own will and good pleasure, and the individual will be held accountable as to how he used the Lord's gifts in the Kingdom work. Furthermore, on one can say to Him, why have You made me thus, Ro 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? Da 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
With the ability to study, see problems, write and present solutions which will cause conflicts, comes the responsibility to use these things for God. Problem: we want the gifts and abilities given by the Spirit of God, BUT WE DO NOT WANT THE RESPONSIBILITIES which go with the abilities. Responsibilities require work, sacrifice, standing alone for things which others cannot see, standing against public policy and sin in every area (civil, social, &c.). Most want abilities apart from the responsibilities. To accept the God-given abilities without excepting (and yes even thanking God for the abilities and responsibilities) the responsibilities, is an insult to the grace of God, He 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite (or insult) unto the Spirit of grace?
[Note Ac 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye. We resist the Holy Spirit when we resist the responsibilities attached to the abilities He gives.]
In both Mat 24 and 25, the unfaithful servant refused to accept his responsibility that went with his talent, i.e. he had an ability from God, yet refused to accept the responsibility which went with his ability.
I can understand why people refuse the responsibility: it involves work and many things that human nature fights against. But the power to the Spirit of God enables us to accept our responsibility before God.
Note that with the ability to see problems, comes responsibility to confront and deal with those problems. The Lord would not give the ability to see if He did not give the ability to do.
2) Moses called... The Lord called the men through Moses. Moses calls the two major men of the project and assigns to them their jobs in the Kingdom. I believe that the leaders of God's people should be able to recognize the individual talents in God's people and assign the people accordingly.
3) the Lord... over and over we are told the Lord's part: He put wisdom in the heart, He stirres the heart. Thus all the calling of Moses to the people to work would have been wasted effort if the Lord had not worked in the heart. Moses called, but the Lord had to stir the hearts to obedience.
My, how we need the Lord to stir the hearts of His people to obedience today!
4) Note the purpose of the Lord's work in the heart of His people: to come unto the work to do it. He called them to work in His kingdom, not to become "more spiritual." I get fed up with the many publications from different groups. All they emphasize is the "spiritual" aspect of Christianity; they present no "work options."
5) The workers received from Moses the goods which the people had brought to him for their offering to the Lord.
Notice that the people did not give it directly to the workmen. As we mentioned previously, the people brought it to Moses, thus to the Lord. The message was clear to the people: by bringing it to Moses, they were bringing it to the Lord. Note the implication: If the people had given the offering directly to the workmen, would the offering have been considered "to the Lord?"
6) the people continued to bring the free offerings to Moses every morning for the work of the Lord because the Lord stirred up their hearts to give.
Note that man did not have to constrain them to give because the Lord constrained them to give. I wonder how much giving is done because man constrained the people rather than because God constraining the people? Furthermore, if man constrains the people to give, are the people actually giving to the Lord? This is a lot of why I just do not speak much about giving: I believe that the Lord must be the one who constrains the people to give.
My, how we need to the Lord to stir up some hearts "to
come unto the work to do it." V. 2.
Vs. 4-7, the people constrained, only in an apposite way as they were constrained in vs. 1-3. Previously they were constrained by the Lord to give; now they are constrained by Moses not to give.
1) All the wise men... This included all the "tradesmen," not only Bezaleel and Aholiab, but every wise hearted man. They worked as one man for the glory of God.
2) they came and spoke unto Moses: Note what they said to Moses. "We have much more than enough for the work we are commended to do by the Lord." Note this important point: the wise hearted men here stopped the people from giving when they had enough to do the job.
The wise hearted men did not take advantage of the working of the Spirit of God in the hearts of the people. I am afraid that a great many Christian leaders today are taking advantage of God's people in whom the Lord has placed a willing heart. They take the "over abundance" and pursue personal dreams, goals and ambitions. The workmen could have easily gone overboard (beyond the command of the Lord) with the surplus of funds and material, but did not. God's wisdom will not take advantage of the moving of the Spirit of God.
3) More than enough... Note the order:
1) sin of the calf,
2) mercy and forgiveness, and
3) giving freely and abundantly, over and above what was needed. In other words, where sin abounds (the calf), grace more abounds (giving).
More than enough! This is the only time that I know of that the kingdom work had more than enough. I wonder, how many times this text has been preached to raise money without consideration of the context? As I read and dream over this text, I must remember that it was the Spirit of God that placed this abundant desire in the hearts of the people. Oh! that He might do the same again today.
The Lord stirred up the hearts so there was more than enough to finance and do the work.
Note v. 6: Those who had no gold could work, which is many times more valuable than gold.
Vs. 8-38, the tent itself.
In Exodus 25:10, the Lord's instructions started with the very central part of their religion: the ark. Then the Lord added to the ark the furniture of the tabernacle. Then the Lord give instructions for the tent of the tabernacle itself. The actual building here in ch 36 is the opposite: they build the tent of the tabernacle first, then add the ark and furniture. We are reminded over and over that the Lord is practical. It would not have been practical to make the ark and furniture if there was no place to house it. (Note that God had to prepare a body for the Lord Jesus before Jesus could do the work He was ordained to do, Heb 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:)
every wise hearted man... There is no number given as to how many men. There were a total of ten curtains called for in the tabernacle, Ex 26:1.
Ten curtains... fifty loops... fifty taches of gold... as we mentioned in the opening of chapter 35, curtains, boards, bars, &c really had no spiritual meaning or they would have been held over into Solomon's temple. Rather, they were just practical things for a tent fit for a king.
The colors... again, all of these things basically were reflections of the Royalty which had chosen to dwell among His people who also lived in tents. I might mention one obvious thought: the tabernacle was covered with ram's skins dyed red. The significance of red, I believe, is that all meeting with our God is under the blood of Christ.
1) v. 13, thaches of gold; v. 18, thaches of brass... The gold was on the inside and as you work out, brass replaces the gold. This is only good common sense, with really no "spiritual" significance. The same thing goes for the rest of the construction materials: boards, ram's skins, goats hair, &c.
2) note that every one possessing skill with linen joined together to complete the curtain project, v. 8.
3) Though every wise hearted man (how many?) was involved in the project, they worked as one man. He, v. 8, evidently means Bezaleel. Apparently, Bezaleel was the overall superintendent of the whole project which is all done under his authority because it continues on by saying things such as he coupled & he made. Edershiem says the tabernacle was constructed and erected within about a six month period. So obviously, Bezaleel did not make it all himself. The only thing we have recorded that he personally made is the ark, 27:1.
Note that the people involved in the project were not afraid of someone else getting the credit for their work. Probably one of my pet peeves is when people are afraid to share their skills because they are afraid that someone else will get the credit for their efforts. The project (the kingdom of God) is one project, and each worker must do his best without fear that someone else might get his credit.
4) And he coupled the curtains one unto another. Each person's effort had to be joined together to make the one project. Note Paul's words, 1 Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. We must do our best without worry about who will get the credit for our efforts. The Lord is keeping score. The Lord did not have any good to say about those who wanted to be sure that every one knew what they were doing. Read Mat ch 6.
I think a fitting conclusion to this chapter is the fact that the Lord established what was to be done in each instance, and the people worked within His established guidelines. They were forbidden to go beyond or not far enough. The people worked very hard, but they worked according to the revealed word of God.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.