Exodus 31: Artisans, Sabbath, and the Finger of God

Having read through the previous chapters wherein was described the different artifacts used in service to God, we have formed a picture in our minds of the layout of the tabernacle. This mental vision is complete, and we can easily search for and find recreations and pictures that show us what it must have looked like. Such are the details of the tabernacle described by God to Moses. To complete the construction of the tabernacle, God has identified and blessed specific artisans, whom He calls by name. These men will work with the wood, gold, silver and bronze to artistically create the implements just as described.

The animal sacrifices were unblemished. The construction of the altars, table, mercy seat, etc., were all described as beautiful and pleasing to the eye. The point of having skilled artisans create the tabernacle artifacts elevates the entire environment to a more spiritual and holy atmosphere. How much more should we adorn our hearts when we are in prayer and engage in worship to God today? Although our offerings are not physical in nature, but rather spiritual, we still need to be pure of heart and nice of appearance when worshipping God. Our offerings to God need to be pure, holy, and undefiled.

The Sabbath is stressed in this chapter as well and is notable in that it was meant to be a day of worship rather than a simple day of rest. God knew that it would be good for man to rest and reflect at a regular interval, as He had rested after creating the heavens and the earth. This was another ritual that separated the Israelites from the pagans around them and was punishable by death if not taken seriously.

The conclusion of this chapter contains considerable power. Moses’ revelation from God on the mountain has been ongoing, having started back in Exodus 25. Moses was on top of the mountain for forty days and forty nights, in communion of sorts with God, who was delivering these complex instructions on the tabernacle and the nuances of how, with what, and when He should be worshipped. This interaction was profound, and so too is its conclusion in verse 18: “And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”

The “finger of God” is a distinct anthropomorphism (deity described as having human characteristics) and is effective in driving the point home that these instructions were nothing but divine, not authored by man but authored by the Almighty Creator Jehovah God, who is deserving of all praise, honor, and glory.

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