For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

35:1.  “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.”


Having received the Ten Commandments from God, Moses then called the people together so that he might disclose to them all that had been revealed to him.  We too are responsible to share with others what the Holy Spirit reveals to us as we study the Scriptures.


35:2.  “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.”


In appointing the seventh day to be a day of rest God had in mind the well-being of man and the domestic animals, He Himself setting the example by resting on the seventh day.  For a discussion of the sabbath see comments on chapter 31:13-17.


35:3.  “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.”


The usual reason for kindling a fire was for cooking purposes, so this command obviously forbade cooking on the sabbath day, and was simply an emphatic reiteration of the similar command given in Exodus 16:22-27.  The spiritual lesson however, transcends the literal.  Since fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and since the sabbath (now the Lord’s day) is appointed for our remembrance of the Lord’s death and resurrection, and the presentation of our worship during the Lord’s Supper, the lesson appears to be the need of ensuring that our minds are under His control during that time, and that nothing of the flesh be permitted to intrude itself.  It is painfully obvious however, that at many an observance of the Lord’s Supper the “fire” of the Holy Spirit is quenched by the activity of the fleshly mind.


35:4.  “And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This the thing which the Lord commanded, saying,”


35:5.  “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; gold, and silver, and brass,”


God will never compel worship.  He will accept only what is impelled by a grateful obedient heart, the literal materials mentioned here being but symbols of spiritual counterparts.  Gold represents Divine glory, and its being first on the list teaches the truth that our primary concern ought to be for the maintenance of His glory, every thought, word and deed being directed towards that end.


Second on the list is silver, the Scriptural symbol of redemption, His salvation of our souls being at incalculable cost: the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, as it is written, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1 Peter 1:18-19.


Brass, the emblem of judgment, is third on the list, three being the number of resurrection, the lesson of the brass being that though the Lord Jesus Christ has borne at Calvary the judgment due to our sins, our works will be judged at His judgment seat in order to assess the value of the reward to be given us for whatever service we have rendered Him during our Christian lives, see 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”


35:6.  “And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,”


Blue is the color of heaven, reminding us that as a heaven-bound people our conduct should be compatible with our heavenly citizenship.


Purple is the royal color, and reminds us that as God’s kingly sons and daughters, we are responsible to behave ourselves as becomes those who are of regal parentage.


Scarlet is another royal color, but it is also the color of sin, and of the blood which alone can make atonement for sin, see Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”


Fine linen is emblematic of righteousness, see Revelation 19:7-8, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”


The goat is associated with sin, it being the animal over which Israel’s sins were confessed annually, and which was then let go as a scapegoat into the wilderness, Leviticus 16:8-10.  It is a type of Christ as the One Who has taken our sins upon Himself, and Who by His death has put them away for ever.


35:7.  “And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,”


The animal skins were part of the roof or covering of the Tabernacle, the death of the animal being implied in the removal of its skin, the red rams’ skins portraying Christ as the One Whose death has atoned for our sins; and the drab badgers’ skins representing Him as the One described in Isaiah 53:2, “... he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”


Shittim wood, which comes from a thorny desert tree, is renowned for its durability which portrays the Lord’s eternality.  It represents Christ as Son of Man come down to the desert of this world, taking upon Him our sins, represented by the thorns, a crown of which encircled His brow when He was crucified, and died as our sinless Substitute.  It is instructive to note that since thorns are the emblem of the earth’s cursed state, see Genesis 3:17-18, “... cursed is the ground for thy sake ... thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee ....” the placing of the thorny crown on the Lord’s head signified the transfer of the curse from the earth to Him, as it is written, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree,” Galatians 3:13.


35:8.  “And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense,”


Since oil is another symbol of the Holy Spirit, its being “for the light” emphasizes the truth that Scripture is incomprehensible apart from the illumination of the Holy Spirit, so that the natural man, the unconverted, cannot understand the Scriptures, because he does not have the Holy Spirit within him, as it is written, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Corinthians 2:14.  We might note also that the disobedient believer is at the same disadvantage, for his sin grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit, and thus excludes His enlightenment.


The anointing oil compounded from aromatic spices was reserved for the priests, so that the fragrance clung to their persons, and was perceptible to all who came near them.  Today’s counterpart is that the fragrance of Christ should be discernible to all who are in our presence.


The fragrance of the sweet incense was made evident only by burning, and a practical lesson being taught in this is that the aroma of Christ will be perceived by others only as it is emitted by our exposure to the fire of trial.  Mere natural sweetness should never be confused with spirituality.  What is of nature cannot withstand trial by fire.


35:9.  “And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate.”


The precious stones which adorned the garments of the high priest are figures of believers, the high priest being a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, see Malachi 3:16-17, “ Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.  And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”


35:10.  “And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the Lord hath commanded;”


Nothing has changed since that long-ago day.  It is still the wise hearted who do the Lord’s work.


35:11.  “The tabernacle, his tent, and his covering, his taches, and his boards, his bars, his pillars, and his sockets,”


35:12.  “The ark, and the staves thereof, with the mercy seat, and the veil of the covering,”


35:13.  “The table, and his staves, and all his vessels, and the shewbread,”


35:14.  “The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light,”


35:15.  “And the incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the door at the entrance in of the tabernacle,”


35:16.  “The altar of burnt offering, with his brazen grate, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot,”


35:17.  “the hangings of the court, his pillars, and their sockets, and the hanging for the door of the court,”


35:18.  “the pins of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and their cords,”


35:19.  “The clothes 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.”


Since the items mentioned here in verses 11-19 have already been discussed in detail in earlier chapters, there doesn’t appear to be any need to repeat that material here.


35:20.  “And the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.”


35:21.  “And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.”


We should note that the whole congregation had heard Moses’ words, but not all put their hands to the work.  Only those whose hearts had been stirred up, and whose spirits were willing, commenced the task; nor has it ever been different.  It is almost invariably the minority who put the Lord’s business ahead of their own concerns.


35:22.  “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.”


This reminds us that the Lord’s work is not restricted to men.  There is service which only women can discharge, and only eternity will reveal how many faithful women have rendered invaluable service to the Lord, and to needy men and women.


Since gold is the scriptural symbol of glory, the fact that all of the offerings were of gold is the reminder that very often the service which is precious in God’s sight is that which brings no glory to the servant here on earth: but on the contrary, robs him of glory, and causes him to be despised, and considered a fool.  The Bema however, will reveal the Lord’s evaluation of each man’s service, and on that day it is possible that many who ranked high in the estimation of men, will occupy much lower places than others who were disdained on earth.


Its being emphasized that all the offerings were of gold may be meant to teach the lesson that the Lord sets a correspondingly high value on all that is done for Him out of a grateful and willing heart.


Tablets, incidentally, is also translated buckles: armlets: pendants: nose rings: waist bands: pendants: bracelets: girdles: necklases.  All that was designed to bring honor to the wearer was willingly sacrificed for the Lord’s glory and the building of His house.  That same self-sacrificing spirit is still highly esteemed by the Lord.  In this connection William MacDonald makes the following instructive comment, “Those who had given gold for the calf lost it all.  Those who invested in the tabernacle had the joy of seeing their wealth used for the glory of Jehovah.”


35:23.  “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.”


Blue is the color of heaven, so the giving of the blue cloth seems to speak of a life lived according to the standards of heaven, not of earth.


Purple is the royal color, and the lesson here is easily read: we are to conduct ourselves here on earth as those who are God’s royal children.


Scarlet is not only the color of blood and of sin, but also of glory, the Lord’s precious blood having transmuted the scarlet of our sins, see Isaiah 1:18, into the scarlet of glory, fit raiment for those who by His grace have been made His royal sons and daughters.


The fine linen needs no comment, Revelation 19:8 informing us that “fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”


Relative to the goats’ hair, since the goat was the animal most frequently used for the Sin offering, God would have us see in the tabernacle roof curtains into which the goats' hair was woven, Christ as our Sin-bearer, He Who was sinless being willing to be made sin so that we might be made righteous, as it is written, “For he has made him who knew no sin, to be made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.


For the significance of the red rams’ skins and badger skins see comments on 25:5 and 26:14.


35:24.  “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.”


Inasmuch as silver is the biblical symbol of redemption, and every believer is the possessor of his own redeemed life, this offering of silver seems to portray the truth that we who have been redeemed ought to yield that life completely to God’s control, our obedience being the measure of our gratitude for His willingness to redeem us at such incalculable cost.


Since brass represents judgment, the giving of the brass may speak of our willingness to commit to God the judgment of our lives, He alone being competent to execute that judgment.  This translates into our willingness to live our lives according to His Word, no matter what it may cost us, the encouragement to yield that obedience being that His will is “good, and acceptable, and perfect,” and that “all things work together for good, to those who love God.”


As noted already, wood represents man’s life, so that the offering of the shittim wood continues to portray the believer’s obedience to the exhortation given by Paul in 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.  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.”


“... for any work of the service.”  That word “any” teaches the truth that we are to do willingly, and wholeheartedly whatever task the Lord assigns us, no matter how distasteful it may be to the flesh.


35:25.  “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.”


This continues to emphasize that God has work for the woman to do, no less than for the man.”


35:26.  “And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.”


This labor was probably much less pleasant than working with the blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen, but it was just as necessary; and the lesson being taught is that we are not to envy others to whom we may feel that God has given more praiseworthy work.  He never assigns an unnecessary task; and His recompense of each man’s labor will be according to the willingness with which it was performed, whether in public or in obscurity.  Our great concern ought to be that all we do is for His glory, not ours.  The value of our service is not to be measured by human estimate, but by the Lord Himself at the Bema, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God,” 1 Corinthians 4:5.


35:27.  “And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate;”


Those precious stones were used to adorn the garments of the high priest, see comments on 35:9.


35:28.  “And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.”


The fragrant spice and incense represent worship, see Psalm 141:2, “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”


Oil, as already discussed, represents the Holy Spirit who enlightens us, and with Whom every believer is anointed by His indwelling.


35:29.  “The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the Lord had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.”


This continues to emphasize the imperative of willingness in connection with our service, for the Lord will neither compel sinners to be saved, nor saints to serve.  He does not employ unwilling workmen.


35:30.  “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;”


35:31.  “And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship:


35:32.  “And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,”


35:33.  “And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.”


35:34.  “And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahimasach, of the tribe of Dan.”


35:35.  “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, and of those that devise cunning work.”


Since these six verses are virtual duplicates of 31:1-6, the comments on that section should be reviewed here.

[Exodus 36]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough