HEADLINES FROM TODAY’S READING IN THE ONE YEAR BIBLE:
- LOCAL ARTISTS COMMISSIONED FOR DIVINE SERVICE (Exodus 35:10- 36:2)
- MOSES STOPS RECEIVING DONATIONS AS FUND-RAISING GOALS FOR BUILDING PROJECT ARE EXCEEDED (Exodus 36:4)
- ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE HOST WORKSHOP TO PASS ON SKILLS IN CRAFTSMANSHIP (Exodus 35:34)
- THOSE WHO LOOK TO THE LORD ARE RADIANT (Psalm 34:5)
- JESUS OF NAZARETH CRUCIFIED; OFFICIAL VERDICT FROM PONTIUS PILATE- HE IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
THE CALL TO ARTISTS
Today’s reading begins with a call to artists, inviting them to participate in a divinely commissioned Construction Project. Both men and women are encouraged to use their God-given talents in the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:20), which will be the means of expressing vital truths concerning the glory of Jesus Christ and His perfect work of redemption.
There are plenty of opportunities for artists to serve. Their talents are to be used to articulate truths about God that would be expressed in both the form and the function of the Tabernacle. Within the parameters of the pattern given to Moses on the Mount, the artists are free to fashion the details as their hearts are ‘stirred with a skill’ (Exodus 35:26).
Skilled artisans who have talent working with cloth, skins, wood, precious stones and metal discover how their gifts can be used in a project that was bigger than themselves. They submitted their skills to the Lord and used them in accordance with the direction of God’s Word and the supervision of Bezalel, who was filled with the Spirit for that purpose.
Bezalel was known for his attention to beautiful detail. He would supervise the work and ensure that the results would be according to the divine design and to the satisfaction of his God-given aesthetic sensibility.
Notice the breadth of Bezalel’s artistic skill and the call for creativity:
Exodus 35:31-33 31 “And He (the Lord) has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; 32 to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, 33 and in the cutting of stones for settings and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work.
Not all the art was exactly representational. For example, the Lord asked for pomegranates of alternating color, some scarlet, and purple, which are common. But he also asked for pomegranates that were blue (Exodus 28:33). The variegating sequence of color was highlighted by interspersed golden bells also sewn onto the hem of the priest’s garments. It was also possible that the effect would be that the eye of the beholder would mix the colors of the blue, red and purple threads. In this case Bezalel’s work was 3000 years ahead of the French impressionists!
Notice the teamwork:
Both Bezalel and Oholiab were inspired with God-given talents as artists:
Exodus 35:35 35 “He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.
Bezalel and Oholiab were skilled in both two- and three-dimensional art. They were sculptors, carpenters, jewelers, and embroidery designers. They had a good sense in the use of color. Moses said, “They excel in all the crafts we will be needing in the work.” (Exodus 35:35, Living Bible paraphrase.)
Not only were Bezalel and Oholiab skilled in a variety of artistic disciplines, they were also gifted teachers, able to train others. They took time for this important work.
Exodus 35:34 34 “He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
What place do artists have in the ministry of the church today? How are they encouraged to use their gifts? Do artists take time to teach and train others in this God-glorifying work?
A SENSE OF CALLING
Exodus 36:1-2 1 “Now Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the LORD has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.”
2 Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it.
Notice how the Lord was acknowledged in having given the artists the skill, the understanding, and the knowledge, as well as being the One who stirs the heart of the artist to participate in the work. This is a good example of a divine calling, or ‘vocation’.
How has your heart been stirred to participate in what God is doing today? How are you using your God-given talents for God’s glory?
In Exodus 36 we have the record of people giving more than what was asked for!
Exodus 36:5-7 5 and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the LORD commanded us to perform.” 6 So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus, the people were restrained from bringing any more. 7 For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.
Can you imagine that? This is a testimony of inspired giving! Moses had to restrain people from their joyful contributions because they had already collected more than enough to complete the job!
The explanation? “Their hearts were moved.”
They were inspired by the Lord! (Exodus 35:29)
NOTICE THE REPEATED MENTION OF FIFTY LOOPS ON THE CURTAINS. The Greek word for fifty is ‘Pentecost’. On the 50th day of Passover, the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given to the church. Just as the 50 clasps held the various curtains together, the Holy Spirit binds believers together in unity! Commentators have seen how the number 50 (Pentecost) relates to the envisioned ingathering of both Jews and Gentiles that the finished work of Christ will make possible, when He is raised from the dead and ascends as the Perfect High Priest to be exalted as Head of the body at the right hand of the Father. One Holy Spirit unites and indwells believers. They are the new temple of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that all the boards were to stand on silver sockets (silver, speaking of redemption). It is only because of the work of our Redeemer that we can stand as a Testimony to His Grace!
NEW TESTAMENT READING- Matthew 27:32-66
Crucifixion was the most shameful and painful way to execute a criminal under Roman law. The Jews did not have the authority to execute the death sentence. This was Jesus’ passive obedience. He came to die a unique death. It was a perfect atoning death, planned before the foundation of the world. Having fulfilled God’s demand for righteous living, satisfying the Law with His active obedience, He would now be delivered to the world system, both Jews and Gentiles, who would have him crucified. He was obedient unto death. Not just any death, but this particular death, “obedient to the death of the cross.”
Notice the passive voice of the prophecies “led like a lamb to the slaughter”, “numbered among the transgressors”, wounded for our transgressions”, “bruised for our iniquities”. The passive voice is employed as Jesus becomes the scapegoat. He takes our guilt, our blame, our punishment. Jesus is subject to the wrath of men, and then the wrath of God. He is stripped, mocked, beaten, scourged, spat upon, crowned with thorns. He starts up the Via Dolorosa carrying His own cross (John 19:17) but soon we read He is “brought to Golgotha”, implying that the soldiers had to move him along.
Matthew draws our attention to the fact that Simon the Cyrene, from Northern Africa, is “pressed into service” to help Jesus carry his cross (Matt 27:32).
“And when they crucified Him. they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.”
These events fulfill the prophecies of Psalm 22:12-18, particularly, “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18).
When criminals were crucified in public shame, their crime would be inscribed on a placard over their head. Jesus’ crime was explicitly stated, “THIS IS JESUS, KING OF THE JEWS”. The Gospel of John tells us that Pilate himself had authorized this statement (John 19:19)
When the religious authorities wanted it changed to “He claimed He was the king of the Jews.” God sovereignly overruled, and ensured this truth claim would be published in the language of the government (Latin) culture (Greek) and religion (Hebrew). Pilate says, “What I have written, I have written.” So it shall stand.
Jesus endures the verbal abuse of passersby, the religious leaders, and the two thieves crucified at his side (Matt 27:38-44).
Having endured the wrath of men for the first three hours Jesus is on the cross, He endures the wrath of God for the final three hours. These would be three hours of darkness in which Jesus is identified with our lostness and forsakenness as a result of bearing our sin. He cries out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” from Psalm 22.
Jesus calls out, “My God”! He does not call upon God as Father again until he announces that His atoning work is complete.
Verse 50 tells us that Jesus cried out with a loud voice and then yielded up His Spirit. The Gospel of John tells us that his loud cry was a victory shout: “Tetelestai!”; “It is finished!” “Paid in full!” (John 19:30) and that this was followed by Him saying, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.” Fellowship is restored through the perfect atonement.
THE TEMPLE VEIL IS TORN
Once Jesus has died, the impact of His priestly sacrifice on behalf of sinners is registered in the temple by the fact that an earthquake induced trembling that causes the veil, that excluded worshipers from God’s presence in the Holiest of all, was torn in two from top to bottom, emphasizing that it was an act of God “from above”.
This event illustrates what Jesus has accomplished as described in the Book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 10:19-22 19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
There is no more need for temple sacrifices, priests, altars, or veils. Jesus has finished the work of salvation on the cross.
REPERUSSIONS FELT AMONG THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
Matthew records the earthquake and the phenomenon of the dead coming out of their graves after Jesus’ resurrection. (Matt 27:52-53). Just as the earth shook at the giving of the law at Sinai, the earth shakes with Jesus fulfilling the Law, and the resurrection signifies that Jesus has conquered death.
The NASB and KJV translations emphasize that the dead did not appear out of their graves until after Jesus’ resurrection.
The Roman centurion witnessing these things makes a profession of faith: “Truly this was the Son of God.”
THE BURIAL OF JESUS
Jesus is buried, as was prophesied in a rich man’s grave, when ordinarily a crucified criminal’s body would be in a common mass grave.
Isaiah 53:9 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
THE GUARD AT THE TOMB
Apparently, the disciples had forgotten Jesus’ prophecies of His resurrecting on the third day, but His enemies did not. They asked for a Roman guard to be posted at the grave.
How unique? When have we ever had a guard set at a Tomb because of a threatened resurrection?
Without knowing it, the Jewish authorities were helping to prove the authenticity of the claim that Jesus was raised from the dead and is alive forevermore!
TODAY’S READING FROM PSALMS
The name ‘Lord’ is used 16 times in this Psalm. Note the verbs describing our offering of praise to the Lord: ‘extol’ ,’boast in the Lord’, ‘glorify’, ‘exalt’, ‘seek the Lord’, ‘fear the Lord’, ‘come to Him’, ‘listen to Him’, ‘look to Him’, ‘cry out’, ‘call’, and ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ (v.8).
Practice these verbs today and you too will be radiant!
PROVERBS FOR TODAY
Jesus spoke of the dangers of throwing pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). He also recognized that some people are not teachable. The wise man knows how to receive reproof.
Proverbs 9:7-8 7 He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. 8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you.
PRAYER: Lord, help us to discern what You are doing today and how the gifts You have given us can be of service. Help us to express the truths about Your glorious work of salvation as members of Your body, Your Living Tabernacle. We are so grateful for Your victorious defeat of the rule of sin and death at the cross! Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Truly we have tasted and seen that You are good. We look to You today as our all in all!
PRAY FOR ALGERIA
Here is a video to inspire you to pray for this nation in North Africa: