Exodus 35:1-29 - Work & Rest

If you read today’s passage and think, ‘didn’t I read this a few days ago?’ the answer is yes! The next section of Exodus (Ch35-39) duplicates a lot of what has already been seen in chapters 25-31, with some small differences.

Today’s passage holds the twin themes of work and rest in a similar way to Chapter 31. There is a reminder to rest and hold the Sabbath as a day dedicated to the Lord and there is also a call for all willing Israelite men and women to engage in the work God has set before them. For us this can be a delicate balance. Our society does not have a collective day of rest, either Saturday or Sunday. Many shops are open, children have commitments, and business are required to respond to work requests. It can be tricky to rest when others around you are working, the emails keep coming in and the family needs to be fed!

One of the differences of today’s passage to chapter 31 is that it even limits cooking daily bread on the Sabbath (v3). For me this is a reminder of the intentionality required to rest. Sometimes it requires some preparation, perhaps an auto-reply on emails or sorting the needs of the family in advance, to be able to take the space to intentionally rest and spend time in worship and Christian community. That shouldn’t be an excuse for us not to rest, but a reminder that we need to intentionally carve out space to rest and spend time in Christian community.

The work in today’s passage involved both the provision of materials and using those materials to prepare the tent of meeting as God required. Whereas chapter 31 focused on the provision of two specific people, which we will read more of in coming days, today’s passage focuses on the whole Israelite community participating and providing for God’s work, not juts a chosen few. In the New Testament we are all called to be part of God’s work, generously giving of what we have and serving in whatever ways he has gifted and resourced us. This ‘work’ includes what we do in paid employment using the gifts we have been given, what we might do in our local communities and what we might do within our church communities.

Many of us have a tendency towards work or rest, leaning more strongly into one or the other. As you reflect on this passage, are there areas and spaces where you need to be more intentional in carving out times for rest? Are there areas where you are holding onto gifts and resources that God is calling you to use for the work of his Kingdom? How can you release these and work for God’s glory?

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