Observing the Sabbath-
First Building Ground Rule
Our last few articles covered Bezalel’s family background and the great men and women who used their individual gifts, talents, and courage to conquer the challenges God set before them. But, before we finally talk about Bezalel, the Chief Architect of the Tabernacle, and the many facets concerning the Tabernacle’s construction, we need to recognize one of the most important gifts God gave those who work for His Glory: the Sabbath.
The Israelites were first introduced to the Sabbath, as a weekly observance, when they had run out of food in the wilderness, after escaping Egypt. They cried out to Moses and he implored God, who sent manna from Heaven, with specific instructions. Each morning, the Israelites were supposed to collect enough manna for their household’s daily needs. If they had any leftovers, it would rot and be filled with worms. On the sixth day, they were to gather and prepare twice as much, because this special portion would not spoil, but instead would remain fresh on the seventh day when no manna was left on the ground to be harvested (ref. Exodus 16).
God wanted the Israelites to understand that their efforts would not be enough for them to survive in the wilderness and that they would need to wholly rely on Him for sustenance. They could not overwork and depend on what they stored up by their own hands. If the Israelites extended and intensified their daily grind, they would be disappointed to find that their extra efforts were not rewarded, but discovered that their labors spoiled and stunk. Of course, there would be times when they needed to work more intensely, but God provided extra blessings for their labors based on His schedule, not the Israelites. God set aside the Sabbath as a day of rest and remembrance of all He had created, and how, by His Hand, the Israelites were brought out of Egypt.
When God gave Moses the original set of Commandments, God again included the observation of the Sabbath as a holy day and highlighted its importance (ref. Exodus 20: 8-11).
The sanctification of the Sabbath is mentioned again two more times in the book of Exodus and each time is in direct relation to the construction of His Dwelling Place.
After spending six and half chapters (ref Exodus 25-31:11) giving precise details regarding the building of the arc of the covenant, the tabernacle’s materials and its construction layout, God again reminds Moses that the Israelites are to keep the Sabbath because it stands as a covenant between them and God (ref Exodus 31:12-17). This reiteration of the day of rest is directly connected to the building of the Tabernacle and the fact that God wants His People to understand that they are to rest, even from holy work.
This connection is intensified in Exodus 35:1-4 when Moses addresses the Israelite camp after receiving the second set of Commandments.
Moses does not start by reading the Ten Commandments or any of the hundreds of guidelines of Levitical law to them, as we would expect. Instead, he reminds the Israelites of the holy rule they were given regarding gathering manna for their daily bread. But this time, the Sabbath would be applied to work of any sort. Immediately afterwards, Moses begins to explain the details for erection of the Tabernacle.
Even before construction began, God intensely and repeatedly emphasized the importance of not only recognizing but sanctifying the Sabbath. The Tabernacle of Exodus had an overwhelming amount of things to worry about, but God understood that His People needed rest and made a point to stress the need to set aside and observe His Holy Day. God did not view the Israelites as replaceable slaves but as a people He wanted to love who would follow after His own Heart.
God also understood that, filled with zeal and fervor, His People would have diligently worked on the Tabernacle, every day, without rest, to the point of losing their love and passion for the project and eventually Him.
This over obsession with work to the point of disinterest and disengagement leading to a perpetual state of physical, emotion, and spiritual exhaustion, commonly known as “burnout” is becoming a more visible and accepted reality in many developed countries and especially within Christian communities. The Puritanical ideals of sacrifice and hard work that helped establish America in particular, have been divorced from God’s Day of Rest. He never intended for us to have the mentality that through enough hard work we could accomplish anything, but instead to trust in His Timing and in Him Who Can Do All Things.
This can be a hard lesson for many people to accept today, since we are inundated with messages that celebrate and worship a culture of workaholic tendencies.
His People needed to recognize that the Tabernacle was built by God’s Will, not exclusively their labors. Just as any extra gathering of manna would spoil, any additional construction on the Tabernacle outside of God’s Will would end in blunder at best. But if they were not sensitive to God’s timing of the Sabbath, they would miss out on the double portion of manna sent to them beforehand and the day of rest that awaited afterward.
God continually reminded the Israelites to observe the Sabbath not only to serve as a reminder of what He had already done, but to help them trust in the Lord for the things He would do in the future in His perfect Will and Timing. Before construction of the PMT Campus begins, we must recognize that it can only be accomplished through God’s Will, not our efforts, and in His Timing, not our own. Till then, we will be grateful that He has given us a sacred time to rest and remember the great things He has already done for us and eagerly await the miracles and blessings awaiting His Followers.
Prepared by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet & Eric Sepulveda, PMT Administrator
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