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Exodus 31.12-18-Laws Concerning The Sabbath And Presentation Of Ten Commandments To Moses

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Journey Through The Bible Series: Exodus 31:12-18-Laws Concerning The Sabbath And Presentation Of Ten Commandments To Moses-Lesson # 45

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Wenstrom Bible Ministries

Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom

Sunday July 29, 2012

www.wenstrom.org

Journey Through The Bible Series: Exodus 31:12-18-Laws Concerning The Sabbath And Presentation Of Ten Commandments To Moses

Lesson # 45

Please turn in your Bibles to Exodus 31:12.

This morning we will study Exodus 31:12-18, which records the Lord giving Moses laws concerning the Sabbath as well as presenting him with the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 31:12 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 14 Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. 16 So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” (NASB95)

This is the fourth time that we have the Lord instructing Israel to observe the Sabbath.

It was first mentioned in connection with the collection of manna in Exodus 16:21-26.

Then, the fourth of the Ten Commandments was the observance of the Sabbath (20:8-11).

Lastly, it was mentioned in Exodus 23:12 in connection with the Sabbath rests for the land.

Exodus 23:12 echoes Exodus 20:8-11.

“Sabbath” is the noun šǎb∙bāṯ (שַׁבָּת) (shab-bawth´), which means “rest period” referring to the seventh day of the week which is called “Saturday.”

Genesis 2:2-3 teaches that God rested or ceased from His creative and restorative activity on the seventh day.

The Hebrew words for “seventh” and “rested” are similar.

Now, Exodus 20:8-11 makes clear that the observance of the Sabbath is connected to the fact that God Himself rested on the seventh day after six days of work (Genesis 2:2-3).

The Sabbath is thus an invitation to rejoice in God’s creation and to acknowledge that He is sovereign.

Deuteronomy 5:15 gives another reason for observing the Sabbath, namely it connects the Sabbath with Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

Therefore, every Sabbath the Israelites were to bring into remembrance that the Lord delivered them from Egyptian bondage by means of His omnipotence.

Exodus 20:10, Deuteronomy 5:14-15 and Exodus 23:12 teach that the Sabbath was for the benefit of both man and animal in Israel.

In Exodus 31:13, the Lord commands Moses to tell the Israelites that they must keep His Sabbaths, which refers not only to observing the seventh day as a period of rest to worship the Lord but also involves observing the laws concerning the sabbath rest for the land which is mentioned in Exodus 23:10-13.

It is also used in connection with the gathering of manna which is mentioned in Exodus 16:21-26.

The Lord tells Moses in Exodus 31:13 that these Sabbaths were a sign between Him and the Israelites.

He repeats this to Moses in Exodus 31:17 and is also reiterated in Ezekiel 20:12 and 20.

The repetition emphasizes the importance the Lord attached to the Israelites observing His Sabbaths.

The keeping of the Sabbath would affirm one’s loyalty to the Lord and would guarantee His presence and deliverance.

It would manifest to the heathen nations the covenant relationship the Israelites possessed with the Lord.

The Israelites must conscientiously observe the Sabbath as a testimony of the Lord’s finished work in the restoration of the earth and was an essential part of their sanctification as a people.

The observance of the Sabbath as a corporate unit by the Israelites would serve as a powerful testimony to the heathen nations surrounding them that they were a people set apart to serve the Lord exclusively.

It would demonstrate that Yahweh was present with the Israelites.

The Lord tells Moses in Exodus 31:13 and 16 that the observance of the Sabbath was applicable for all subsequent generations and was perpetual.

The purpose of this perpetual observance of the Sabbath was that the Israelites would know that the Lord is the one who sanctifies them.

This means that observance of the Sabbath by the Israelites would manifest the fact that the Israelites were chosen from all the nations of the earth to be a people who represent Him to the rest of the nations.

In Exodus 31:14, the Israelites were to keep the Sabbath because “it is holy for you” which denotes that the Israelites must keep Saturday as a day set aside exclusively for God, i.e. worshipping Him.

This day should be set aside exclusively by the Israelites as a day to bring into remembrance who God is and what He has done for them resulting in worshipping Him, i.e. giving thanks to Him.

In Exodus 31:14 and 15, the Lord tells Moses that failure to observe the Sabbath was a capital crime.

Since the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between the Lord and Israel, those in Israel who failed to keep the Sabbath were put to death (Exodus 31:14; Numbers 15:32-36; Jeremiah 17:19-27).

Numbers 15:32-36 records the Israelites stoning a man found gathering wood on the Sabbath day.

Exodus 31:17 recalls Exodus 20:11, which presents the basis for the Sabbath day observance, which is God creating the time, matter, space continuum as well as mankind and restoring the heavens and the earth which was judged by God due to Satan’s rebellion against God.

The Lord reminds Moses that the Israelites were to observe the Sabbath in connection with the tabernacle worship since worship was to take place on the Sabbath and if it was not observed conscientiously, worship in the tabernacle would not properly take place.

Therefore, proper use of the tabernacle demanded that the Israelites observe conscientiously the Sabbath.

The observance of the Sabbath is an ordinance given to the nation of Israel and not the church.

Although the church was not given the ordinance to observe the Sabbath, they are commanded to enter into God’s Sabbath rest meaning to rest in the promises of God and one’s union with Christ (cf. Hebrews 4).

Exodus 31:18 When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God. (NASB95)

This verse records the Lord completing communicating instructions to Moses and which instructions appear in Exodus 25:1:31-17.

It also says that He gave Moses two tablets of stone of “the testimony,” which are the Ten Commandments.

This further indicated in Deuteronomy 9:10, which records Moses reminding Israel that the Lord gave him two tablets of stone written by the finger of God and on them were all the words which the Lord communicated to them on Mount Sinai.

Exodus 20:1-21 records the Lord speaking audibly to the Israelites when giving the Ten Commandments to them.

After the Lord finished, the people were terrified and asked Moses that the Lord would not speak with them again for fear that they would die.

Thus, only the Ten Commandments were on the two tablets whereas all the instructions the Lord communicated to Moses during the forty days and forty nights on the mountain as recorded in Exodus 25-31 were not.

“Testimony” is the noun ʿē∙ḏûṯ (עֵדוּת) (ay-dooth´), which has appeared eleven times previously in the book of Exodus (16:34; 25:16, 21, 22, 26:33, 34; 27:21; 30:6, 26, 36; 31:7).

It is a reference to the Decalogue or Ten Commandments according to Exodus 24:12; 31:18 and Deuteronomy 4:13; 9:9 as well as 1 Kings 8:9.

This word identifies the Ten Commandments as the witness or affirmation of God’s commandments belonging to His covenant with Israel and also expressed God’s will and the duty of the Israelites.

The expression “the finger of God” is an anthropopathism, which is a figure of speech which ascribes a human body part to God which He does not possess since He is spirit and invisible in order to appeal to the frame of reference of human beings.

It is used by God to teach something about Himself that would appeal to the frame of reference of human beings.

Here in Exodus 31:18, this expression is another anthropopathism which expresses the fact that the Ten Commandments came directly from God Himself.

No one writes with their finger and so this expression is designed to catch the reader’s attention in order to emphasize that Moses received the Ten Commandments in writing on two tablets of stone directly from God Himself.

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