Three parts of our reading interest me today:
First, the half-shekel ransom for lives when taking a census includes an interesting stipulation: a command that the rich and poor pay the same amount (Exodus 30:1-14). For other offerings, by contrast, God expects the wealthier to make larger sacrifices or contributions. However, this offering reminds everyone that when Israel counts men in preparation for battle or in planning some massive project, it will be God’s strength that will achieve their aims and not their numbers (from the census) or their wealth.
Second, many have remarked that the first time God’s Holy Spirit fills a person, He chooses an artist (Exodus 31:1-3). More interestingly, God’s Spirit works in Bezalel to create a place where God will dwell with His people. This same Spirit operated in the creation, where God would dwell with His image-bearers (Genesis 1:2). This Spirit also gave birth to Jesus, who would be God with us (Luke 1:35). Further, this Spirit makes us a dwelling place for God through faith (Romans 8:5-11). The Spirit of God seems always to accompany God’s work of abiding with us. God entrusts this work of fellowship to the Spirit alone.
Third, observing Sabbath prohibitions on pain of death might seem extreme. However, consider as exhausted people how nice it would be if someone would so strongly insist that we take a day off! God is teaching Israel and the world that He alone made the universe in six days and gives life to all things. A day off is meant to remind Israel that their work’s success still relies upon the God who created and upholds the universe. God’s followers should still take this gracious rest day to pause from their vocations and enjoy God’s goodness in our world.