Saturday, March 12, 2011

Exodus 36 - 38 - Work Rising Up to God and Interpretation Tool

LINK: Exodus 36 - 38

It's Bible Study "TOOL TIME"!

Last tool time, we talked about the first step in Bible Study: OBSERVATION. Now, let's talk about the next step. 


Interpretation is the step of determining the author's meaning and can only be accomplished after good observation. Many want to jump to interpretation, but do not go to it until you have spent adequate time in observation! Your prayerful observation will bring up your interpretive questions.

Five Simple Steps to Answer Interpretive Questions:

1) Pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance - Remember that this is not about increasing your Bible knowledge but about a life-changing relationship with God!

2) Read for context - Answers can often be found in the context of the passage.

3) Define key words and phrase using an exhaustive concordance, expository dictionary, or English dictionary. Here is a handout to help you do this (Just remember the example is for a Greek study, and you will be doing a Hebrew study in the Old Testament.): 

"How to Do a Word Study"

If you do not have the resources, has both Hebrew and Greek lexicons. 

Click on an example from Exodus 36 HERE:

You can set this up to have the words hyperlinked in blue. If you click on them, the Hebrew or Greek definition (with pronunciation) will come up. 

In order to do this, you must always be on the New American Standard Bible or King James Version, click on the "settings" button on the far right that I have circled in red:

This will lead you to a drop down menu: 

When you click on "Strongs Numbers," it will show Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) words in blue. If you click on the blue words, they will lead you to a new page with the definition! 

The website also has some amazing study tools. Here are their directions for doing a Greek Word study on the web:

Performing Greek Word Studies (scroll down)

If you prefer to not use heavy books or be tied to being online, LOGOS is an amazing Bible software that I have used since 1996. I am completely digital in my Bible Study now. 

4) Correlate with cross-references - The best way to interpret Scripture is with other Scripture. A concordance has all the verses listed for a particular word. Most Bibles have cross-references in the margins. This is one of the options in the screen shot of the drop down menu above.

5) Consult commentaries last. Commentaries can be biased, but they have their place after your own study. I use commentaries after I am done with the above study. It is helpful when I get stuck in my understanding or want to know something historically significant about the passage. The websites I mentioned above also have links to commentaries.

The BACKGROUND section each day in the Bible Book Club is a result of my interpretative explorations. I thought it would be fun for you to know how to find answers to your own questions since I am sure my background section will not cover all your questions or be free of my bias.


In Exodus 35 - 38, there were some key words/phrases that kept on sticking out to me while observing these chapters, and I had some burning questions about them. Here are some of my findings from one of my favorite resources for Hebrew Word Studies, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament by Ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke.

1) Movement of the Heart

There were many words to describe the heart of the people in these chapters. Their hearts "stirred" them (4 times in Exodus 35-36). It is the Hebrew word nasa which means "lift." By extension is means "The heart 'lifts one up' thus inciting action" (p.600).

Their spirit and hearts "moved" them. (Exodus 35:5, 21, 29). This Hebrew root word, nadab, is the same one used for the word "freewill offering." It "denotes one who is either typified by voluntarily and freely sacrificing and/or serving the deity," Their hearts "impelled them to offer willingly" (p.554)

2) Contribution/Offering (35:5, 21 36:3)

The movement of the heart led them to make an contribution/offering. My margin said "heave offering," and I was curious about what that was. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) says:
The term 'heave offering,' originally referred to the physical manipulation of the offering at the time it was given; but there are not biblical examples which clearly refer to such manipulation. The term had worn down until is simply meant "gift" or "offering" without implication as to how the gift was manipulated. (p. 838) 

So, it doesn't mean much! I will say that looking up the word helped me to see that it comes from the Hebrew root verb rum which means "be high, lofty; rise up" (p.837). 

This helps me visualize an offering that is not going across laterally from one person to another but it is rising up to God! I want to remember that my gifts go to God, not to a person, church, or organization.

3) Skillful People ("skillful" 15 times in Exodus 25-39), ("skill" 7 times in Exodus 31-36)

The Hebrew word chokmah (skill) means "wise" and chakam (skillful) means "wise(man)" (p.282). It is the same word that described Bezalel in 35:31. God had filled him "in wisdom in all craftsmanship." Skill was born out of a wise-hearted obedience to God's commands.

Exodus 36-38 is a fulfillment of what God stipulated to Moses in Exodus 25-27 and 30. So, if you have any questions about the pieces in the tabernacle, you can look back at these days: Tabernacle Specifics

There is one additional fact about the bronze laver not included in those previous chapters. It was made from mirrors of polished bronze of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. It was common for the Egyptian women to carry mirrors with them to the temples. Commentators think that they may have taken these when they left Egypt and plundered the Egyptians. It was also an assurance that these women would not practice this in their tabernacle worship.


These people were so moved/stirred that they gave to overflowing, and they were "restrained from bringing any more" (36:6).

How often do you hear this at your church?

"Please stop writing checks, Ladies and Gentleman. We don't need any more money. We have more workers overseas than we can handle at this point. Also, please quit volunteering in the nursery. We have too many people holding those babies. You are commanded to stop!"

Not very often! Most churches have a shortage of funds and people for ministry. That is why this section of Scripture always challenges me!

The thing that struck me most in meditating on these chapters was that they were moved from the inside out. They were not compelled by an outside force upon them. There was no pressure. No slick sales pitch. Their hearts were "busting" out lifting up willingly all that they had to the LORD as a freewill offering. God commanded and their hearts were stirred from within!

I want to give of my time, talents, gifts, and possessions according to 1 Corinthians 9:6-8:
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart not grudgingly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.
This implies that I am wisely tuned in to the LORD and listening to His calling for me to go and do what He would have me do. My heart will be stirred from within, and I will have an abundance of time, money, energy, and enthusiasm to accomplish what He has for me to accomplish! For more on this process read the amazing booklet God Guides

I know that people have asked me over and over again, "How much time do you spend doing the Bible Book Club every day?" I will not tell you how much, but I have to honestly say it doesn't matter! I am joyfully giving the time from my heart! George walked into the room one day, and I was typing one of these posts, and he said, "Carol, you have such a wonderful smile on your face. I can tell you really enjoy what you are doing right now." 

He is right! I do. My heart is stirred from within to lift up this freewill offering of time to the LORD so that maybe people might be encouraged to read and study the Bible and grow closer to the LORD. It is a slam-dunk, WIN-WIN. God called, and I obeyed. So, I have the "abundance" for it.


What is your freewill offering to the LORD?

You might like to conclude your time today in doing a heart check by talking with the LORD about it. Here are some questions for the heart check:

What are your giving with a "willing heart"?

What are you holding back?

What are the reasons for holding back?

What are you giving out of obligation or guilt rather than out of a joyful, willing heart?

If you could do anything for the LORD, what would it be? 
What are some of your gifts, talents, and abilities? 

How is God nudging you to "fan into flame the gift of God which is in you" (2 Timothy 1:6)?


Lord, thank You for making it so simple. Help us to listen to You and stir our hearts from within to serve You. Move our hearts so that we might move willingly toward the work that You have for us to do. We love You! Amen.
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