The repetition that stands out in these two chapters, is “freewill offering” or its variations. Seven times in these two chapters, Scripture mentions in some way, shape, or form, that the offering which the people were to bring to the LORD for the work of the tabernacle, was a freewill offering from a willing heart.
I would go so far as to say, that God does not want an offering that is not brought from a willing heart. We see from these chapters, that the gifts that were from willing hearts, were more than enough to complete the work which God had commissioned. In fact, if God commissions a work, He also then stirs hearts, by His Spirit, to provide for its completion (Exo 35:21). If a work cannot be provided for without tricks, manipulation, or guilt trips, then an honest man should ask himself, is it a work that God has commissioned? Its lack of provision testifies against it.
There is more to a God- commissioned work, however, than just how to provide for it. These chapters teach us, that God appoints leaders whom He has chosen, whom He has filled with the Spirit of God, with wisdom and understanding, with knowledge of workmanship to carry out the work. For those leaders, He provides assistants, also called, filled, equipped, and gifted. For those leaders and their assistants, YHVH provides the ability to teach, so that they can reproduce themselves. And for them, YHVH also provided a team of gifted artisans, in whom YHVH has also put wisdom and understanding, to carry out the work.
It is interesting that these two chapters, which teach by type and example how to accomplish a God- commissioned work, opens with a repeat of the Sabbath commandment. Out of all the Ten Commandments, this commandment, the Sabbath commandment, has been repeated more than any of the other commandments (four times from Exo 20 through today’s reading: Exo 20:8-11, Exo 23:12, Exo 31:12-17, and Exo 35:1-3). Repetition is a teaching tool of Scripture!
God is serious about wanting His people to rest and do no work on the Sabbath. He is impressing His will in that over and over again. He repeats it again here, at the beginning of the construction of the tabernacle, because His people are about to embark on a great work. Something He commanded them to do. He does not want them to think, that because they are doing something for God, that means it is okay to ignore the Sabbath commandment! No – even when our work is a God- commissioned work of the ministry to advance the kingdom, that “work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day is a holy day (holiday) for you, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD,” (Exo 35:2).
Finding Messiah: Why is the LORD so adamant about the seventh day rest? Because He likes to burden His people with commandments? No! Moses was not to deviate from the blueprint for the Tabernacle, because, we find out, it is a beautiful prophetic picture of Messiah. If he were to change the design of the Tabernacle, then he would misrepresent Messiah. He would be prophesying falsely, because the Tabernacle was a prophecy of Messiah to Israel.
I think it is the same thing with the Sabbath commandment. Do you remember that Adam and Eve dwelt with God in the Garden of Eden, until their sin made a separation between them and God, and they had to leave the Garden? On the day that they were driven out of the Garden, God spoke a consequence over Eve, that because of sin, she would be engaged in painful labor in childbearing, and I also believe, child rearing. Adam’s daily painful labor is in providing bread for his family, to sustain themselves. I know the word for “labor” in Eve’s consequence and the word for “painful toil” in Adam’s consequence are two different words in English, but in Hebrew they are the exact same word! Adam and Eve both received the same consequence of painful toil as a result of their sin.
Now God commands for His people, that for six days they shall engage in painful toil, but the seventh is a holy day unto the LORD, and on that day His people shall rest. They shall cease from suffering the consequences of sin. Then when Messiah comes, we learn that we find rest in Him. And also, it is prophesied of Him at His return, that the earth shall enjoy 1000 years of rest under His reign, following 6000 years of painful toil under the curse from the Fall of Man.
Sabbath is a gift of grace which prophesies of our rest in Messiah, not only now as we do not work to earn our salvation since our rest is in Him, but also when He returns! So when God’s people work on the seventh day, God’s people are prophesying a false prophecy to the world, that there is no rest from working to earn salvation in Jesus, nor will the earth enjoy a millennium of rest under His reign! And that is why I believe the LORD was so adamant that His people do no work on the seventh day.
I have never understood the modern (not historical) opposition of Christians to Sabbath keeping. It is a relief and a blessing to rest from labor and enjoy an entire day of tangible grace!