Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 31:12-17, after a long record concerning the building up of God’s dwelling place, there is a repetition of the commandment to keep the Sabbath. We all know that keeping the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, the fourth commandment. We need to find out why this particular commandment is repeated after the record concerning the full revelation of God’s dwelling place.
The last verse of chapter thirty-one, verse 18, tells us that the Lord gave to Moses two tablets of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. This verse concludes a long section that began no later than chapter twenty. When the Lord called Moses to go up to the mountain, the Lord first gave Moses the law. Then He gave Moses the revelation concerning the building up of His dwelling place on earth. In this section we see the design of the tabernacle and its furniture and a full revelation regarding the priesthood. There is also a record concerning the builders of the tabernacle. After all this, the Lord repeats the requirement related to keeping the Sabbath.
The six verses about keeping the Sabbath, 31:12-17, are inserted between verses 11 and 18 of this chapter. What is the reason for this insertion? The reason for repeating the record of the Sabbath after the charge for the building work of the tabernacle is the first matter we need to cover in this message (see 20:8-11).
The fact that this insertion concerning the Sabbath follows the charge for the building work of the tabernacle indicates that the Lord was telling these builders, these workers, to learn how to rest with Him. They should not work and forget about resting with the Lord. Therefore, in charging them to do the work of building His dwelling place, the Lord reminded them that as they worked for Him, they should learn how to rest with Him. If we only know how to work for the Lord but do not know how to rest with Him, we are acting contrary to the divine principle.
There has been much debate among Christians about the Sabbath, especially whether the Sabbath should be observed on the seventh day or on the eighth day. The Seventh-Day Adventists insist on keeping the Sabbath on the seventh day. Actually, the principle of the Sabbath is not a matter of the day on which it is observed. The principle of the Sabbath is that working with the Lord requires that we learn how to rest with Him.
Some may think that the significance of the Sabbath is merely to cease from work. This is not the real meaning of the Sabbath in the Bible. The Bible emphasizes the fact that God rested on the seventh day. Genesis 2:2 says, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”
According to the book of Genesis, to God the Sabbath is the seventh day, but to man it is the first day. In six days God created the heavens, the earth, and everything necessary for man to exist for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. After all things were made, man was created on the sixth day. This means that as soon as man came forth from the creating hand of God, his first day, which was God’s seventh day, was about to begin. Thus, what was the seventh day to God was the first day to man. The significance of this is that to God the Sabbath was rest after work, but to man it was rest first and then work. God first worked for six days and then He rested on the seventh day. But man rested on his first day and then began to work.
I am happy that Exodus 31:17 tells us that “on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” This indicates that the Sabbath was not only a rest to God, but was also a refreshment to Him. Both Genesis and Exodus tell us that God rested on the seventh day. But in 31:17 the words “and was refreshed” are added. This reveals that even God needs to be refreshed.
To rest is one thing, but to be refreshed is something further. For us to rest we do not need anything in particular. It is sufficient either to sit down or to lie down. But to be refreshed we need something to eat or drink. We often refer to food and drink as refreshment. The point here is that if we would be refreshed, we need something to be a refreshment to us. The same is true of God. God needs something to refresh Him. Do you know what God’s refreshment is? What is it that refreshes God?
Perhaps you have read Exodus 31 a number of times without ever being impressed by the fact that God needs to be refreshed. I can testify that I have expounded the book of Exodus more than once, but only recently have I seen the significance of the word “refreshed” in 31:17. The Bible reveals that after God’s work of creation was completed, He rested and was refreshed. On what did God rest? He rested on His creation. To illustrate, suppose a craftsman spends a long time making a very special chair. When his work is finished, he may rest on the very chair he has made, enjoying it and thinking about it. I often experience this kind of rest after I have finished my work of writing. When I have finished writing something, I may sit back, look at what I have written, and enjoy it. I particularly enjoy the light I have received from the Lord through His Word. Likewise, sisters who make their own clothing may enjoy a good rest after they have finished making a particular garment. In the same principle, after God created man, He rested. He could look upon His handiwork, at the heavens, the earth, and all the living things, especially at man, and say, “Very good!” Then God could rest and be refreshed.
With what was God refreshed? God was refreshed with man. Man was God’s refreshment. God loved man. He created him in His own image with a spirit so that man could have fellowship with Him. Man, therefore, was God’s refreshment.
According to Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.” This word has a significance in typology, and indicates that it was not good for God to be alone. Before God created man, God could be compared to a bachelor. Some may criticize us for using the word bachelor to speak of our holy God. But I believe that God is happy to hear this word used with respect to Himself. Perhaps God would say, “My child, this word touches My heart. I truly was a bachelor before I created mankind.” The Bible reveals that in eternity past God was a “bachelor.” But in eternity future He will have a wife, the New Jerusalem, which is called the Lamb’s wife (Rev. 21:9-10). Therefore, according to the revelation of the Bible that the New Jerusalem is the wife of the Lamb, I have the boldness to use the word bachelor with respect to God.
When God saw the man created by Him, He could rest and be refreshed. Man was like a refreshing drink to quench God’s thirst and satisfy Him. When God ended His work and began to rest, He had man as His companion. To God, the seventh day was a day of rest and refreshment. However, to man, God’s companion, the day of rest and refreshment was the first day. Man’s first day was a day of enjoyment.
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