Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.’” (Exodus 31:12-13)
We began this series by reading Exodus 31:1-5 in which we are told that Bezalel—an artist and culture-creator—was the first person to be “filled with the Spirit of God.”
The context of that passage is a large chunk of Scripture in which the Lord gave Moses detailed instructions on Mount Sinai, starting with The Ten Commandments in Exodus 19-20. Exodus 31 is the last chapter in this run, but it doesn’t end with the aforementioned scene of Bezalel being filled with God’s creative spirit. Before the Lord adjourns His meeting with Moses at Mount Sinai, he has one last thing to say: He reminds His people to observe His Sabbaths (see today’s reading above).
Now, keep in mind, the Lord has already issued the third command to “remember the Sabbath” in Exodus 20:8, and He doesn’t remind Moses of any of the other commandments before He concludes this monumental meeting. So why, after filling Bezalel with His creative spirit, does God remind Moses, Bezalel, and the Israelites to rest? Let me propose three reasons.
First, this was the rhythm God himself took on for His creative work. After commissioning Bezalel and team to create like Him, God is reminding them to rest like Him because they are made in His image. The Lord told His people to “observe my Sabbaths.” The implication is clear: I rested from my creating and I designed you to do the same.
The second reason I think God repeats this command to rest after commissioning Bezalel to create is that He knew that culture makers are especially prone to workaholism. Creating new things is life-giving, God-like, intoxicating work. As we’ve seen throughout this series, creative work is “very good”—central to who God is and who we are as His image-bearers. Thus, it can be easy to forget to rest, hence God calling special attention to this command here.
But if creative work is good, why is rest necessary? That brings me to the third reason I think God reiterates the command to rest: Because we need to remind ourselves that it is His power, His grace, and His Spirit that enables us to create. Bezalel needed to be filled with the Spirit of God in order to do the work God created him to do. The same is true for you and me.
Believer, the Creator God lives in you, guiding you as you create good things that point to His glory. Let that humble and empower you to engage in your work with great energy and ambition today!