Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part II: God's Sustainment Of Israel In The Wilderness Wanderings Amid Humanly Hopeless Trials
R. Preserving Our Testimony Of God's Grace As Our First Priority In Serving God
(Exodus 35:1-5)
  1. Introduction
    1. The believer in Christ has many responsibilities before the Lord: he is to use his spiritual gift to do God's work, to grow in his knowledge of God, and perform lots of duties for his natural and church families.
    2. As important as these are, none of them replaces our preserving our testimony of the truth of God's grace:
  2. Preserving Our Testimony Of God's Grace As Our First Priority In Serving God, Exodus 35:1-5.
    1. When Moses gathered the people of Israel together in Exodus 35:1 to give them God's instructions on the collection of materials for the building of the tabernacle (cf. Exodus 35:4ff), he began his address by repeating almost verbatim the Sabbath Day rest command of Exodus 31:15, cf. Exodus 35:15.
    2. Indeed, he prohibited even the building of a fire to cook manna on that day, revealing how important it was that everyone in their patristic society, men and women alike, were to heed this command, Ex. 35:3.
    3. In view of all we have learned on the tabernacle, we can wonder why God was concerned re: the Sabbath:
      1. The tabernacle typifies the work of God in its many facets whereby He graciously interacts with sinful man to justify, cleanse and prepare him for fellowship with Him and service for Him, Ex. 25:1-30:38.
      2. Repeatedly, God declared He would meet with man at that site, making the building of the tabernacle crucial for the practical workings of God with His people, cf. Exodus 29:42-43; 25:22; 30:6.
      3. Yet, when it came to the collecting of the articles to be used in constructing this important edifice, if anyone violated the Sabbath Day in the effort, he was to be executed in divine judgment, Ex. 35:2b!
    4. Nevertheless, this shows God wanted Israel to preserve her testimony of Him as her first service priority:
      1. We recall that Israel's pagan neighbors saw the seventh day and their religions as humanly oppressive:
        1. These pagan peoples revealed in their accounts of origins that they viewed man as a slave to the gods of creation: (1) Tablet VI of the Akkadian creation account, Enumah Elish claims man "was created from the blood of Kingu, a rebel deity and for the purpose of doing the work of the gods." (Bruce K. Waltke, Creation and Chaos, 1974, p. 65 in citing James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts , 1969, p. 68). (2) The repetition of such an account thus reiterated to the pagan mind that man was a slave, Ibid., Waltke in citing Narbur M. Sarnia, Understanding Genesis, 1971, p. 7.
        2. Coupled with man's role as a slave was his pagan view that the "seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth day of the month connected with the four phases of the moon" and "the nineteenth of the month, which occurs seven weeks after the beginning of the preceding month, were regarded as unlucky days on which a man should afflict himself, eschew pleasures and refrain from performing important work, for they would not prosper." (Ibid., Waltke, citing U. Cassuto, A Com. On the Book of Gen., trans. Israel Abrahams, Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1961, p. 23).
      2. Yet, in huge contrast to all this, God's Sabbath was meant to depict His grace versus pagan oppression:
        1. Jesus noted the Sabbath Day was for man, not to enslave man unto it, Mark 2:27. The Sabbath Day was a time for rest and refreshment for God's people when they entered into the rest God enjoyed upon ending all His creative works, Ex. 31:17 KJV, ESV; Mark 2:23-28: Hebrews 4:4-10.
        2. Also, versus the pagan view that the Sabbath Day was a time of bad luck when man was to avoid work lest his efforts become fruitless, God blessed it, Genesis 2:3. All during Israel's 40 years of wilderness wanderings, God gave a double portion of manna for each Sabbath Day that Israel might not be afflicted, but rest in refreshment in His grace and blessing on that day, Exodus 16:22-26.
      3. Thus, God intended that Israel rest on the Sabbath Day versus even serving to construct the important tabernacle as that testified to the pagan world that God was a God of grace and rest opposite the view of paganism, and that so pagans might be discipled away from pagan oppression unto God's grace!
Lesson: God wants us to preserve our testimony to the truth of His grace over all other acts of service.

Application: May we always evaluate our acts and words to see if they uphold the testimony of the truth of God's grace, and may we make that our utmost priority. If we see we fail here, may correct ourselves before returning to serve the Lord that our service efforts not be an exercise in futility in His eyes!