Our passage presents to us a series of contrasts. Things we’ve read of before in Exodus are now very different. And within our text, there is a contrast between the people of Israel, the object of God’s wrath, and Moses, the man of God’s friendship. So the passage shines a light on what sin does, and what it does to the humankind’s relationship with their Creator.
Our text today continues to look at the consequences of Israel’s sin. Sin is not pretty. It never is. Even for us believers, God may forgive our sin, but there often remain consequences for our sins in this life. Sin brings about a great deal of suffering, even for those of us who are Christians. We may make one mistake in haste or poor judgment, and that sin will cost us for years and years. This morning, the Scriptures continue to teach us about the ugliness of sin.
The scene for our text today moves back up to the top of the mountain, where Moses and God have been meeting over the past several days. Here the Lord informs Moses as to what’s happened. God speaks, and he reveals his own judgment about what Israel has done. Then Moses responds. At root, this passage is about God’s view of sin and the character and efficacy of Moses as intercessor.
There are two big ideas in Exodus 31. First, the gracious aid God gives his people to do his work. He helps them build his tabernacle. Second, Israel must be like Yahweh in resting after their work. But what Exodus 31 also shows is that Israel’s work in the sanctuary is much like God’s creation of Eden long ago.
The sermon is concerned with the rest of chapter 29. Its themes can divided up into three sections: God’s command about the length of the consecration ceremony; God’s command about the daily offerings; and a summary statement about God’s great purpose for the sanctuary. What we read here is God’s way of him graciously providing a way for him to dwell with Israel.