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Sermon #2426 — Miscellaneous Sermons

 

Title:                                                   The High Honor

God Puts upon His People

 

Text:                Exodus 35:1-35

Subject:         The Privilege of Service

Date:              Friday Evening — July 20, 2018

                                    Sovereign Grace Baptist Church

                                    Ewing, New Jersey

Introduction:

 

I hope you know how very dear this congregation is to me. It has been It has been 14 years since we began this work together. Then, he sent you this faithful pastor. After laboring together for more than ten years, last year he gave you this magnificent house of worship. Every year, as I make plans to come here, I seek a message from our God for you, a message that will honor God our Savior, a message that will comfort, encourage, and strengthen you and your pastor in your work together, and a message by which he will be pleased to bring chosen, redeemed sinners to life and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

If you will open your Bibles to the 35th chapter of the Gospel of Exodus, I believe God has given me his message for you. Oh, may he be pleased to pour out his Spirit upon us and enable me to deliver his message and enable you to receive it and rejoice in it. — The title of my message is — The High Honor God Puts upon His People.

 

The Lord God declares to you who are his, to you who are saved by his grace, to you who believing on his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, know yourselves to be nothing but poor, wretched sinners, utterly vile, utterly unfit for the company of others, and utterly unfit for God, — “Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee” (Isaiah 43:4).

 

The highest honor we can or do give to the triune God, to the Lord Jehovah, our God and Savior is faith in him. Our faith in him is his gift to us; and our faith in Christ is our gift to him. Believing him, we honor him. And the Lord God has declared, “Them that honor me I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30). The Lord God declares, “Them that honor me I will honor.” He says, “Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee!” Does the holy Lord God honor us? How does the infinite God honor man? How does the Almighty honor you? I want to show you how God honors those who honor him by faith in Christ.

 

I want to show you from the Word of God what a great privilege and honor it is for God to allow such things as we are (fallen, depraved, fickle, unstable, sinful men and women) to perform his work in this world.

 

Because, at first glance, Exodus chapters 35-39 seem to be nothing more than a recapitulation of chapters 25-31, most of the commentaries have very little to say about these final chapters of Exodus, treating them almost as though they were redundant. That is a great pity!

Š      Nothing written in the Book of God is redundant, merely repetitive or unnecessary!

Š      At the very least, any repetitions given in Scripture are needful repetitions. None are redundant!

 

When sharpening your pocket knife, is it redundant to go over the whetstone many times? — No! The more strokes the better. And we are specifically told to teach the things of God with repetition (Deuteronomy 6:7; Philippians 3:1).

 

(Deuteronomy 6:7) “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

 

(Philippians 3:1-3) “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. (2) Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. (3) For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

 

Exodus 25-31 is a description of the tabernacle as it was given directly to Moses by the Lord God himself. Chapters 35-39 record what was actually made according to the pattern shown to Moses. Typically, that fact alone is very significant because — that which was accomplished by God in his purpose of grace in sovereign predestination shall be performed by the sovereign power of God in time (Romans 8:28-31).

 

Blessed Rest

 

1stThe chapter begins by requiring rest. Doesn’t that seem odd to you? Moses is about to put the people to work building the tabernacle; but he first commands them to rest! — Exodus 35 is all about serving God. In the previous chapters we are told about the pattern God gave Moses in the mount. Here the work is actually begun; and it is begun with another declaration of God’s command that the children of Israel must keep the sabbath (vv. 1-3).

 

(Exodus 35:1-3) “And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them. (2) Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. (3) Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.”

 

In this chapter, we see the children of Israel serving God with willing hearts. Here are God’s chosen people making sacrifices with joy and laboring with gladness; but the chapter begins with a commandment to keep the sabbath day holy.

 

So, the first thing evident in this chapter is the fact that service begins with rest. — We cannot do anything for God until we quit trying to do something to appease God. We cannot serve the Lord until we rest in Christ, our blessed Sabbath Rest. We cannot bring anything to God until we find rest in Christ.

 

Remember, the tabernacle was designed of God and given by God to portray and typify our Lord Jesus Christ and the full accomplishment of salvation by him and in him. So, before the work of erecting the tabernacle is begun, the Lord God gives this commandment again. — “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.” — Before we are fit to serve the holy Lord God, we must rest in Christ. Before we can bring anything to him, we must receive grace from him.

 

Now, watch this: — This is the seventh and last mention of the sabbath in the Book of Exodus, the Book of Redemption and Deliverance. And it was Solomon, “a man of rest” (1Chronicles 22) who alone could build a house to Jehovah’s name. Both the sabbath days of the Old Testament and Solomon, the man of rest, typified our Lord Jesus Christ, our blessed Sabbath in whom and by whom we rest.

 

But in verse 3 an additional feature is here added to the observance of the sabbath. Even the lighting of a fire on the sabbath day is here prohibited! — “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.” The Lord never mentioned that before.

 

Why is it added here? There may be other reasons for this additional requirement; but I am sure that this is intended to show us at least these two things.

  1. Faith in Christ is a complete cessation of works, a total dependence upon the Son of God for our entire salvation.
  2. Faith in Christ is the means by which God the Holy Ghost purges our consciences of guilt and imputes to the believing sinner the righteousness of Christ, as he did to Enoch and Abraham.

 

Now, having faith in the Son of God, trusting Christ alone as our Savior, because Christ is our Sabbath, resting in him, every believer calls the Sabbath a delight (Isaiah 58:13-14).

 

(Isaiah 58:13-14) “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: (14) Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

 

Honor Bestowed

 

2ndNext, in verses 4-19 we see the Lord God bestowing a great honor upon the children of Israel. He so highly honored them that he allowed every man and woman in the nation of Israel to have a hand in making the tabernacle.

Š      Without question, God did not need Israel’s assistance!

Š      Everything the children of Israel brought to him he had given them.

Š      Yet, the Lord condescended to use the people he brought out of Egypt to establish his place of worship and all the things connected with his worship while they were in the wilderness.

 

(Exodus 35:4-5) “And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, (5) Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD.”

 

(Exodus 35:10-12) “And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded; (11) The tabernacle, his tent, and his covering, his taches, and his boards, his bars, his pillars, and his sockets, (12) The ark, and the staves thereof, with the mercy seat, and the veil of the covering,”

 

(Exodus 35:18-19) “The pins of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and their cords, (19) The cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office.”

 

Great as that privilege was, high as that honor was, it pales into insignificance, when compared to the great, high honor and extraordinary privilege the Lord God has placed upon you and me, upon this assembly, and upon every believing sinner in this world. God almighty has chosen us as his witnesses and his servants in this world (Isaiah 43:10-12; 44:8; Acts 1:8; John 20:20-21; 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:1).

 

(Isaiah 43:10-12) “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. (11) I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. (12) I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.”

 

(Isaiah 44:8) “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any.”

 

(John 20:20-22) “He showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. (21) Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (22) And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

 

(Acts 1:8) “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

 

This is the witness we have been sent of God to declare unto the world for the building of his church and kingdom.

 

(2 Corinthians 5:17-21) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

 

(2 Corinthians 6:1) “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”

 

The People and Their Gifts

 

3rdNow, look at the people God uses and the gifts we bring to him, by which he is honored and served (vv. 20-29). But, before looking at these verses, let’s apply the passage as personally as possible. Look around you and behold the people God uses to build his kingdom in this world, the people God uses to spread the gospel to the four corners of the earth, the people God uses to call out his elect in every generation (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 2 Corinthians 4:7).

 

(1 Corinthians 1:26-31) “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

 

(2 Corinthians 4:7) “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

 

Who are the people God uses to honor himself? Who were those people he used to make the tabernacle?

Š      They were a chosen, covenant people. — “All the congregation of the children of Israel” (v. 20).

Š      The offering they brought was “the Lord’s offering” (v. 21). — That which the Lord had given them. — That which really was the Lord’s. — That which they acknowledged to be the Lord’s.

Š      Both men and women, rich and poor, the rulers and the laborers worked for and brought their offering to the Lord, each serving with what God gave them and in the capacity God designated to them (vv. 22-25).

 

(Exodus 35:22-28) “And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD. (23) And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers’ skins, brought them. (24) Everyone that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the Lord’s offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it. (25) And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. (26) And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair. (27) And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate; (28) And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.”

 

The offerings were the offerings of willing hearts. That is the only service and the only offering God will ever accept, that which arises from and is performed by a willing heart. — “If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Corinthians 8:12).

 

(Exodus 25:1-2) “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (2) Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.”

 

The materials out of which the tabernacle was made were to be provided by the voluntary offerings of devoted hearts. — “And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him up, and everyone whom his spirit made willing…And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man offered an offering of gold unto the Lord” (vv. 21-22). Spontaneously, freely, joyfully they availed themselves of their great honor and high privilege.

 

Everything offered to God must proceed from hearts made willing by his Spirit. It must be spontaneous and free, not the result of persuasion or of external pressure, but from the heart. It must be given, not taken.

Š      Constrained by love, not by law!

Š      Motivated by gratitude, not by fear.

Š      Inspired by reverence, not by reward.

 

Nothing is more certain to ruin any work, any missionary enterprise, any ministry, any church than the employment of carnal, fleshly, worldly schemes to raise money. Nothing more dishonors God and his people than the many ways churches, preachers, and religious organizations try to get their money!

Š      Tithing

Š      Pledges

Š      Deputation

Š      Bake Sales

Š      Begging

 

Moses simply told the people that the Lord God almighty, who brought them out of Egypt and destroyed all their enemies, God their Savior and Redeemer, was willing to receive a gift from them. He did not tell them what to bring, how much to bring, or even command them to bring. He simply said, God is willing to receive your gifts.

Š      Each one brought what he had in his possession (blue, silver, gold, shittim wood, etc.).

Š      Each one brought only as much as he wanted to bring, no more and no less than his own heart dictated.

Š      And there was more than sufficient, “much more than enough,” to finish the work (Exodus 36:5-7).

 

If the God of Glory calls us to do a work, the God of Glory will supply everything needed to do the work. God’s servants don’t beg! And God’s people are not mercenaries. We serve our God and do whatever it is that the Lord God allows us to do for his glory, because we want to do it. — “The love of Christ constraineth us!

 

Bezaleel and Aholiab

 

4thBezaleel and Aholiab typify our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who builds his church (vv. 30-35). As is so often the case in Holy Scripture, the names given to these two men and their ancestors are highly significant.

 

The first man named here is Bezaleel. His name means “in the shadow of God” or “the protection of God.” Christ is that One who is the Shadow of God and Protection of God for his people (Psalms 17:8; 57:1; 63:7). Blessed are they who take refuge under the shadow of his wings!

 

(Psalms 17:8) “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”

 

(Psalms 57:1) “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be over past.”

 

(Psalms 63:7) “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.”

 

Aholiab was also typical of our Redeemer. His name means “The Tent of the Father” (John 1:14).

 

(John 1:14) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

 

Just as Jehovah took up his abode in the tabernacle in the wilderness, so he found a dwelling-place on earth when God the Son became one of us! — “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). He is “God manifest in flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). So perfect and complete is that manifestation he could say, “he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

 

But let me briefly show you that these two men also represent those men who are called and gifted of God to lead his people in building his house. Bezaleel and Aholiab clearly represent faithful pastors, gospel preachers, appointed of God as overseers in his house.

 

(Exodus 35:30-35) “And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; (31) And he hath filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; (32) And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, (33) And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. (34) And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. (35) Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.”

 

Š      Like Bezaleel and Aholiab God’s servants are divinely called (v. 30).

Š      They are filled with the Spirit of God (v. 31).

Š      They are gifted of God with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge to perform the work to which they are called (v. 31).

Š      They are “cunning, skillful, men.

Š      And they are “workman” (v. 35; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

 

(1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) “We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

 

Little did Bezaleel or Aholiab know that while they were making bricks in Egypt, under the lash of cruel taskmasters, the God of Glory was preparing them to be skilled artisans by whose hands he would erect the tabernacle in the wilderness for the glory of his name and the everlasting good of his people!

 

What a high honor our God has given us! Let us be found faithful to the trust he has given us, for Christ’s sake.

 

Illustrations:       Bob Poncer

                                                                        Bobbie Estes

 

Eddie Rickenbacher

1890-1973

 

Have you ever read the story of Eddie Rickenbacher? Imagine this scene. — You are on the Florida coast, not far from a little town near Jacksonville called Switzerland. The sun is setting like a gigantic orange ball. It’s a cool evening on a vacant, isolated stretch of beach. The water is lapping at the shore. The breeze is blowing slightly. There are one or two joggers and a couple of fisherman on the beach. Most people have gone home for the day.

 

You look up and you see an old man with bent shoulders, bushy eyebrows, and bony features hobbling down the beach carrying a bucket. He carries the bucket out onto a pier. He stands there, and you notice he is looking up into the sky and all of a sudden you see a mass of dancing dots. You soon recognize that they are seagulls. They are coming out of nowhere. The man takes out of his bucket handfuls of shrimp and begins to throw them on the dock. The seagulls come and land all around him. Some land on his shoulders, some land on his hat, and they eat the shrimp. Long after the shrimp are gone his feathered friends linger. The old man and the birds.

 

What is going on here? Why is this man feeding seagulls? What could compel him to do this — as he does week after week?

 

The man in the scene is Eddie Rickenbacher, a famous World War II pilot. His plane, “The Flying Fortress,” went down in 1942 and no one thought he would be rescued. Perhaps you have read or heard how he and his eight passengers escaped death by climbing into two rafts for thirty days. They fought thirst, the sun, and sharks. Some of the sharks were nine feet long. The boats were only eight feet long. But what nearly killed them was starvation. Their rations were gone within eight days and they didn’t have anything left.

 

Rickenbacher wrote that even on those rafts, every day they would have a daily afternoon devotional and prayer time. One day after the devotional, Rickenbacher leaned back and put his hat over his eyes and tried to get some sleep. Within a few minutes he felt something on his head. He knew in an instant it was a seagull which had perched on his raft. But he knew that they were hundreds of miles out to sea. Where did this seagull come from? He was also certain that if he didn’t get that seagull he would die. Soon all the others on the two boats noticed the seagull. No one spoke, no one moved. Rickenbacher quickly grabbed the seagull and with thanksgiving, they ate the flesh of the bird. They used the intestines for fish bait and survived.

 

Eddie Rickenbacher never forgot that visitor who came from a foreign place. That sacrificial guest. Every week, he went out on the pier with a bucket of shrimp and said, “Thank you!” “Thank you!” “Thank you!”

 

That’s what you and I are called to do in response to God’s grace and mercy in Christ. What is expected of us? What is the tribute we are called to bring, to give, to the Lord? Listen to these words from Scripture:

 

(Romans 12:1-2) “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

 

(Hebrews 13:15-16) “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (16) But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

 

What is our tribute? To live for Christ, our dear Redeemer, and dedicate ourselves entirely to him. — To obey him. — To confess him. — To be his witnesses. — To serve him. — Why? Because “the love of Christ constraineth us.

 

That word, “constrains,” means literally, “leaves me no choice.” Paul is saying, “I have no choice but to respond to the love of Christ with my whole being – to say, ‘Thank you!’ ‘Thank you!’ ‘Thank you!’”

 

When we serve Christ, when we show others God’s redeeming love and saving grace in Christ, when we come to church every week to worship him, when we give of our means to support the gospel, as we labor together, like those Israelites of old, with Moses and Aaron, with Bezaleel and Aholiab, we don’t do it begrudgingly. We do it with thankful, willing hearts because we really have no choice. It is our tribute! It is our “Thank you” to our God. — That is the high honor God puts upon his people.

 

(Acts 22:15) “Thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.”

 

(Ephesians 3:8) “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

 

I say to you, be faithful to that trust. O Spirit of God, let me be found faithful to that trust until my eyes close in death, for Christ’s sake.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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