Exodus 31:1-18, Jeremiah 31:31-34, 2 Corinthians 3:1-3
From the time I was in elementary school, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I was often distracted from my other responsibilities, but I’ve always felt that I couldn’t not draw. The artistic inclination has always been a part of who I am, and so it is easy to think that it somehow belongs entirely to me, like my personality, and all the other things that make me me. I am prone to forget that I am not my own, and any skills or handicraft or talents I have are not ultimately mine. These things aren’t my special contribution to the world, but rather, God’s entrusted gifts to me, to be used for His kingdom. There is no room for boasting.
The account of Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other craftsmen of the temple reminds us that God alone is the one who equips and qualifies us for service. Do you have incredible talents? A winning personality? A brilliant intellect? They aren’t yours. They are His. We see that in preparing His temple, God equipped certain men with ability, intelligence, knowledge, and craft. Mind, heart, and hands are all alike prepared by Him. They are all His. Therefore, all praise is due Him.
The importance of this praise is emphasized in the immediately following passage on the sanctity of the Sabbath: “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work” is a familiar command (Exodus 20:9). We are called to six days of labor, employing the skill, intelligence, knowledge, and craftsmanship that God has given to us. But these gifts must be laid before the holy preeminence of God on His Sabbath, and it turns out, this is serious business. The Sabbath command is delivered in no uncertain terms: “You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death” (Exodus 31:14).
I don’t know about you, but this makes me shake in my boots a bit. Why is the warning so stern? While we may not live in fear of death if we miss church on Sunday, the Sabbath is still a matter of life and death. It is a matter of spiritual life and death. God made the Sabbath for us, because we need it; “it is holy for you.” The Sabbath rest, the consecrated day of worship is not something God handed down from the beginning just for kicks. The Sabbath pattern is ingrained in creation itself, and it is ingrained in us well—whether we recognize it or not. We need the Sabbath to be who we need to be. We need the Sabbath because we need the Lord of the Sabbath.
The Sabbath recalibrates us for the work we are to do in the world. It is a holy reminder that we are not our own, that our talents and abilities, our know-how and our personality are all from God. He is the one who qualifies us for service in this world. He is the one who sanctifies us. We have been bought with a price, and the life we now live, whether in work or in rest, we live to Him (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Written by Caleb Faires