Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. THE PRIESTS' GARMENTS.
1. Their splendour. They were fashioned of gold and jewels, and blue, and purple, and scarlet. God gives glory to his servants. He makes us kings and priests unto himself. The spiritual nobleness and beauty given now are but the earnest of the glory which will be hereafter.
2. Their purpose: they were clothes of service. The honour and comeliness which God bestows are for service to him in the midst of our brethren, not to minister to our own spiritual pride and unbrotherly judgment.
II. ALL THE WORK WAS DONE IN STRICT OBEDIENCE TO THE LORD'S COMMANDMENT, "As the Lord commanded Moses" (5, 7, 21, 26, 29, 31). "The children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did they" (32). "And Moses did look upon all the work; and behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it" (43).
1. There was no deficiency: no part of the work was slighted. We may not abate anything of all the Lord has commanded. The ordinances must be observed as they have been delivered to us. The cross which Jesus has called us to take up in his service must not be laid aside.
2. There was no excess. No room was given for the exercise of fancy, or taste, or judgment, as to what might better impress, or improve, the vulgar. There was only one solicitude - to do what the Lord had commanded. He alone is master here. We are merely servants. The things which God had not commanded were as carefully kept out of the worship as the things he had commanded were kept in it.
3. "And Moses blessed them." Serving God thus, the blessing of a greater than Moses will rest upon us. And there awaits us in the eternal light the "Well done! good and faithful servant!" - U.
I. THERE IS A PROFESSED COMPLETION. We know not exactly how long this work took to do. That it could not be done in a few days or even a few weeks is plain; but it is equally plain that however long the time was, the work was done with steadiness and devotion. There is no mention of any hitch or unseemly dispute; all seems to have gone on with holy industry and patience to the end. Looking, then, on this work, for which a special endowment of the Spirit's help was given, and which was completed, we are bound also to feel that the work for which God in Christ has given his Spirit to his Church in these latter days will also be accomplished. Hindered and fragmentary is the appearance that it now presents; but it is going on. The wonderful manifestations of Pentecost are the pledge of a work that some day will have finis written upon it. Amid all the uncertainties of prophecy; amid all the hapless guesses with respect to the time of events, one thing is clear, that the prophecies point to a consummation. There is a συντέλεια to the work of the Church even as to this typical work of Bezaleel and Aholiab.
II. THERE IS A RIGOROUS INSPECTION. Many human observers, we may be sure, had also inspected the work of Bezaleel and Aholiab; some to praise, some also to carp. But it is not those whom men commend who are really praiseworthy, nor those whom men censure who are censurable. Moses looks, and ever as he looks there is the remembrance of his solemn sojourn in the mount. He has in his instructed mind the standard of success and excellence. Let us also, as being invited to become temples of the living God - temple and sacrifice comprised in the varied faculties of one living organism - consider the rigorous demand which is made on us. These sacred articles, fashioned from perishable materials, and by human hands, were yet such that they could be stamped with Divine approval; and thus they are meant to direct us, that we may fashion all our life, in affections, in aims, and in service, according to the pattern given in the mount - that mount in Galilee, where Jesus talked with all who were willing to admit his authority.
III. THERE IS A HEARTY COMMENDATION. "Moses blessed them." There had been so much disobedience and pursuit of selfish aims before, that when an obedience comes like the one mentioned here, it is important to note the way in which God smiles upon it. For the blessing of Moses is as the smile of God. God is as quick to show approval of all compliance with his wishes as he is to frown upon all disregard of them; only, as men will have it, there is more occasion for the frowning than for the favour. This commendation is more fully expressed in Exodus 40:34, where the wrapping of the tabernacle with the glory-cloud signifies that what God did through Moses in the well-understood formula of blessing, he could also do himself by his own miraculous manifestations. The successful work here and the immediate recognition of it serve to show, in a more condemnatory aspect, the subsequent transgression of the people. In the making of the tabernacle-furniture, they had recognised the claims of God, and God had recognized their ability to meet his claims. He knew that they could not yet be obedient in all things; he only asked that they should be obedient as far as they were able to be obedient. They had shown their ability once; and it was their great blame that they did not show it again and again. - Y.