Exodus 35

These small group studies of Exodus contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Exodus 35 Inductive Bible Study

I. Reminder about the Sabbath (1-3)

II. The contribution for the tabernacle requested (4-9)

III. Request for skillful workers (10-19)

IV. The People Respond Willingly by Contributing What They Have (20-29)

V. God Called and Empowered Bezalel and Oholiab for the Task of Supervising this Great Work (30-35)

I. Reminder about the Sabbath (1-3)

What extra prohibition is mentioned here that wasn’t mentioned before?

1. It is clear that God considered the Sabbath day to be an extremely important command to follow since it is repeated multiple times in Exodus alone. Here there is one additional addendum added. That is the prohibition

II. The contribution for the tabernacle requested (4-9)

Was this contribution going to be mandatory or voluntary? What was the criteria for the giver?

What New Testament verses mention this same principle? Why do you think God only wants gifts from the willing? Why is the motivation important if the end result of getting the materials they need the same? What are wrong motivations for giving?

1. One key aspect of this contribution that was repeated many times, is that it was a freewill offering. It was to be given completely of one’s own free will. It wasn’t mandatory. It wasn’t commanded. Moses put the need out there so people would know it and everyone with a willing heart could give as much or as little (or none) as they decided in their own hearts.

2. In fact, God doesn’t’ need our gifts. He owns everything anyway. He could have the angels descend from heaven to build the tabernacle with materials made from heaven. But He didn’t do that. Why? Because giving is not a chore. It is a blessing. God gave the opportunity to give. This was something that people could joy and pleasure in. They could be excited that they had this opportunity to serve God and help out in some small way.

3. There could be a lot of motivations for giving. People give to be seen by others like the rich people in the NT. What did Jesus think of their gift? People give because they feel compelled to give. Their own consciences shame them into giving. What does God think of this kind of giver? Some people give as a habit or a ritual because they have always given. But God loves a cheerful giver, a willing giver. Giving should be a chore. It should be a burden. It should not be grudging and it should not be because we feel guilty. Our motivation should be one of a joyful response to God’s many gifts to us. We should love to share from the grace that God has given to us.

Besides special materials, what else could the people give towards the tabernacle? Let’s go around one by one and see if we can remember what items were inside the tabernacle? What kinds of skills would be needed to make each of these items (sewing, embroidery, carpentry, metallurgy, dying, etc.)? Is there one person who could do all of this by himself? What would be necessary to achieve the best result? If you really wanted to help, do you think there would be something for you to help with? How is this similar to the work in the church today?

III. Request for skillful workers (10-19)

1. The people gave themselves, their time, their muscles, and their energy to the work. All the materials in the world wouldn’t do any good without workers dedicating their own time towards the project. We often hear this point in sermons, to give not only money but our time. This is very true. Sometimes people give money as a substitute for their time. Imagine there is a family with a rich father. The rich father is often busy going on business trips, holding office events, meeting clients, and other job related work. He misses his son’s camping trip, but to make up for it gives his son a new bike. He misses his daughter’s school play, but to make up for it, gives her a new cell phone. He misses his son’s gong fu championship, but to make up for it gives him a new PS2. He misses his daughter’s birthday, but to make up for it gives her a new pony. Their whole lives growing up they barely see their father, BUT he loads them with awesome gifts. Do you think he is a good father? Why or why not? This is much like us IF we give only money to God, but didn’t’ give our time to Him as well. This is not an either/or choice. It is a both/and.

2. Notice all the different things that needed to be made. A wide variety of skills was necessary. One or two people likely could not do all of this work by themselves. And even if they could, it is unlikely they would be experts in every field. Notice the different skills needed (math for measuring, angles, joints, etc. sewing, embroidery, and dying for the clothes and curtains, carpentry for the woodwork of the table and poles, metallurgy for working with the gold and bronze, art for designing the buds and cherubim, perfumers for working on the incense, candlemaker for the candles of the lampstand, etc. etc.) There was a wide variety of tasks that needed a wide variety of skillful laborers. Likely whatever skill you had, you could put to use by helping in someway. There was something for everyone to do as well as some things that no one person could do by himself. It was to be a cooperative team effort. This is much like work in the church today. There are many different tasks available. Whatever skills you have, you can put to use helping out. The one key is that you must be willing. Are you willing to help serve in your church/fellowship? Hopefully you are.

IV. The People Respond Willingly by Contributing What They Have (20-29)

How would you describe the peoples’ responses? What kinds of things did they bring? What did the richer rulers bring? What kinds of things might the poorer people have brought? What could the men do? What about the women? Since this was a freewill offering, meaning voluntary, what would have been the result if there weren’t enough materials for the tabernacle? What should church’s do if they don’t have enough money to complete a project? Should they borrow to do it?

1. We see this same concept developed even more in this section of verses. The men brought some things. The women helped spin the linen and cloth. The rulers, who were likely wealthier, brought onyx stones and other precious stones for the ephod. Each person gave as he was able and willing. There was no room for excuses. If you truly wanted to give, you would find something to give, at least of your time. Remember that when the people left Egypt, their neighbors gave them valuables on the way out. So most of them did actually have valuables to give for the building of the tabernacle. What would you say to a poor person today who says “I don’t have enough to give God anything.”

2. This was a freewill offering, meaning that it wasn’t required. Obviously there would be the apparent risk that not enough materials would be given and then what? However, since this was God’s plan to build the tabernacle I believe that God would make sure enough people were “moved” or “stirred” to give. If God really wants a task accomplished He will not only have the need stated out, but He will make sure the resources are there to finish it. For example, if God wants a preacher in training to go to seminary, he will provide some means/money by which this preacher in training can go. If he doesn’t get enough finances in time, then clearly God didn’t want him to go. God did clearly want the tabernacle built, and therefore He moved the people to make sure they gave enough. This is yet another example of the tension, but harmony, between God’s sovereignty and our own responsibility.

V. God Called and Empowered Bezalel and Oholiab for the Task of Supervising this Great Work (30-35)

What was special about Bezalel and Oholiab? What was their role? Where did they get this specialized skill from? What else did God put into B and O’s heart? What do you think they were teaching people? Instead of teaching people to do the work, why not do all themselves since they might be more skillful than others?

1. Notice that God is involved in every step of this work. He gives the command to Moses to mention the need. He stirs the hearts of the people to fill the need for materials. He then calls Bezalel and Oholiab to join this work, yet another example of God’s calling combined with human responsibility to answer the call.

2. God not only calls these workers, but He empowered them. HE EMPOWERED them with His Spirit, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and craftsmanship in many areas. God will not give us a task to complete without giving us the means to complete it. God would not have called a blind person to do this unless He first opened his eyes so that he could see. We should take this as encouragement to faithfully fulfill whatever tasks God gives to us. If God asks you to spread the gospel on one campus, don’t give up because you are slow of tongue or shy or busy. He will enable you to do the ministry there and he will bring the fruit He wants from that ministry. At the same God’s empowerment means that the credit for their work should also go to God and not themselves. Their very wisdom and skill itself was given to them by God. Everything we have is from God and everything we have is for God. What is the chief end of man?

3. Finally, these two men did not actually do all the work by themselves. Instead they taught the people under them (34) how to do it. It was a task too build to be accomplished alone so God gave them a team. Instead of saying that they were the smartest and saving all the work for themselves, they made use of the team God had given them and supervised the process, thus relinquishing some of their responsibilities to others, even though themselves might have been able to do some parts of it better themselves. Leaders must learn to delegate and supervise. Otherwise what will happen? They will get burnt out and they will not have enough energy or time to finish everything. Besides that, if they try to do everything by themselves, then the rest of the people would miss an opportunity to serve. Even Jesus delegated many tasks to the disciples. He sent them out in prayers to teach. His goal was not to do all the teaching by Himself forever. It was to train others to do what He was doing. It is said that all missionaries should try to work themselves out of a job. Use your team. Teach what you know to others and then trust that they will faithfully use this knowledge to take part in the great work God has given to us.

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