1 – ” The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you:” (Exodus 31:1-6, ESV)
RAF: Note how even these natural giftings come from God and are the work of His Spirit within us. This is why even our “secular” work is to be done as unto Him. He gives the talents and abilities and they are to be utilized in light of His working in us.
2 – ” And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” (Exodus 31:12-13, ESV)
RAF: The Sabbath as instituted here was uniquely a “sign” between God and Israel throughout “your” generations. As a means of separating them. No foreign people is ever rebuked or judged by God for not keeping it, even though we see them judged for others kinds of sins.
3 – “And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” (Exodus 32:4-6, ESV)
RAF: Note that they didn’t change “gods”. Aaron announces that “these are your gods (elohim), O Israel, who brought you up out of the lands of Egypt” and then declares a “feast to the LORD” – Jehovah! They re-made God into something tangible and quantifiable. They hated being at the mercy of not knowing where Moses was or what exactly was going on, and wanted to take control by making God controllable. How we need to fight our tendency to do the same thing.
4 – “The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.” (Exodus 32:16, ESV)
RAF: This is the way mankind was first fashioned. Completely the work of God, with His law – the imprint of His nature written on our hearts. We shattered it in sin. And in salvation, the law is re-engraved by His finger not on hearts of brittle stone, but on hearts that cannot be shattered, on hearts of flesh.
5 – “When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.”” (Exodus 32:17-18, ESV)
RAF: They were both right. Celebration around a false god can be nothing less than an act of war against the true and living God.
6 – “The next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.” (Exodus 32:30-35, ESV)
RAF: But Moses could not make an atonement for sin – only Christ can do that. His petition is rejected. Praise God our Savior’s isn’t!
7 – “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.” (Exodus 33:11, ESV)
RAF: This is what made Joshua the right man to take over leadership in due time.
8 – “And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”” (Exodus 33:14-16, ESV)
RAF: Here we see the importance of Pentecost. Without God’s presence with us in the indwelling Spirit, we cannot be known as God’s people. This is what distinguishes us from all the other peoples of the earth – God’s presence. In Israel’s case, the “presence” was by virtue of His manifestation in the pillar of cloud & fire, and then in the Holy of Holies. In the Church – it is in US. Do we manifest his presence? Are we a holy people?
9 – “Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (Exodus 33:18-19, ESV)
RAF: God’s glory is most seen in His goodness displayed in the twin miracles of GRACE and MERCY – epitomized in Christ Jesus at Calvary. If you would glorify God, you must make Him known above all in His grace and mercy toward us in Christ Jesus.
10 – “But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”” (Exodus 33:20, ESV)
RAF: One day we will! 1 John 3:2.
11 – “The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:5-6, ESV)
RAF: The first time the Law was given, there was no hint that there could be grace and mercy. Now it is accompanied with God’s own pronouncement of it. When the Law was first written in man’s heart, we had no promise of grace and mercy. But in the new birth, we do.
12 – “And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”” (Exodus 34:9, ESV)
RAF: See Eph. 1:18.
13 – “And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair.” (Exodus 35:25-26, ESV)
RAF: This was not a work done by the men alone, but the women contributed as much labor to the constructing of the Tabernacle.
14 – “And they set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle was the first row; and the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; and the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They were enclosed in settings of gold filigree. There were twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel. They were like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes.” (Exodus 39:10-14, ESV)
RAF: Though in our eyes these gemstones had varying values, in that each was merely a part of the whole, they were equally important and without distinction. So are the members of the body of Christ. In the World’s valuations, some may seem to be more precious – but in God’s economy, their value is that they were appointed and set by Him in their place, not their gemological composition.