"The Sabbath is to time what the tabernacle and temple are to space: a cathedral in time. On the seventh day, we experience in time what the temple and tabernacle represented in spaces, which is eternal life with God in a complete creation."
In part 1 (0-8:30), Tim and Jon recap their conversation so far. They go over the story of the Passover and review how it reflects the creation account in Genesis.
In part 2 (8:30-22:30), Tim transitions to the story of Israel collecting manna in the wilderness in Exodus 16.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it? For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”
On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.
Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan.
Tim notes that manna was supposed to be a little taste of the new creation. Manna was a new work of creation that violated normal creation while also fitting within God’s ideal purpose for creation (i.e., within the seven-day scheme). Manna was a divine gift that came from proximity to the divine glory (Ex 16:9-10). This miraculous provision didn’t behave like normal food, and there was more than enough each day, no matter how much was gathered.
Tim also shares that the rhythms of gathering and not gathering on the Sabbath is an imitation of God’s own patterns of work and rest in Genesis 1. Similarly, God announced “good” days one through six and “very good” on day seven. This parallels with Israel collecting manna on days one through six and “double manna” on day seven. Furthermore, on the seventh day God “rested” (took up residence in his temple), and on the seventh day Israel “rests” and Moses “rested” a perpetual sample of manna “before Yahweh” and “before the testimony.”
Tim cites scholar Stephen Geller:
“... manna is presented as a new work of creation that disrupts the established order of creation. In fact, there is a clear parallelism between the creation account in Gen 1-2:4 and Exod 16. In both passages there is a dichotomy between the first six days and the seventh day. In Gen 1, the work of each day is stated by God to be "good," a term that marks its completion. But on the sixth day the phrase "very good" marks the completion not just of the acts of creation on that day, but of the first six days as a whole. Genesis 2:1 states explicitly that "the heaven and earth were completed." Yet, to the perplexity of exegesis, the very next verse says that "God completed on the seventh day the work he did and ceased on the seventh day all work he did." The second of these two statements must be viewed as an explanation of the first: God completed his work by ceasing.”
(Stephen Geller, “Exodus 16: A Literary and Theological Reading,” Interpretation vol. (2005), p. 13.)
In part 3 (22:30-36:30), the guys dive into the actual Sabbath command as part of the Ten Commandments, which is given in seven Hebrew sentences. The Sabbath command in Exodus 20:8-11 is expressed in seven statements arranged in a chiastic symmetry. Tim says this is another fascinating layer of the theme of seventh-day rest in the Bible.
A – Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
B – Six days you will labor
C – and do all your work,
D – but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God;
C’ – you shall not do any work,
you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant,
or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
B’ – For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day;
A’ – therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Tim cites scholar Leigh Trevaskis to make his point:
“The sabbatical rest seems to remind Israel of her covenant obligations as YHWH’s new creation. Though this rest is more immediately connected to the exodus in these chapters, it has its roots in the creation story (Gen 2:1-3; cf. Exod 20:11) and by connecting Israel’s remembrance of her redemption from Egypt with the sabbatical rest, the exodus becomes infused with further theological significance: just as Gods seventh day rest in the creation story marks the emergence of his new creation, so does Israel’s sabbatical rest attest to her emergence as YHWH’s new creation through his act of redemption. And since her identity as a new creation is tied up with the covenant (cf. Exod 15:1-19; 19:4-5), Israel’s sabbatical rests… presumably recall her obligation to remain faithful to this covenant, encouraging her to live according to the Creators will.” (Leigh Trevaskis, “The Purpose of Leviticus 24 within its Literary Context,” 298-299.)
Tim then walks through Exodus 24, which is the start of God giving the tabernacle instructions to Moses. This story is a crucial layer to understanding how the building of the tabernacle (the “tent of meeting”) weaves into the theme of seventh-day rest.
Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
In part 4 (36:30-49:50), Tim continues the story in Exodus 24.
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them.” Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
Tim notes that the theme of sixth and seventh day is now clearly established. God appears to Moses on the seventh day.
Here in Exodus 25-31, God presents Moses with the plans for the tabernacle. These plans are dispensed in seven speeches by God.
 “And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying…” [Exodus 25:1]
 “And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying…” [Exodus 30:11]
 “And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying…” [Exodus 30:17]
 “And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying…” [Exodus 30:22]
 “And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying…” [Exodus 30:34]
 “And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying…” [Exodus 31:1]
 “And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying…” [Exodus 31:12]
The seventh and final act of speech covers the Sabbath.
After this, in Exodus 40, the completion of the tabernacle is given with seven statements of Moses completing the work God commanded him.
And it came about in the beginning month, in the second year, on the first of the month, the tabernacle was set up (הוקם), and Moses set up (ותקם) the tabernacle…
 “…just as Yahweh commanded Moses” [Exodus 40:19]
 “…just as Yahweh commanded Moses” [Exodus 40:21]
 “…just as Yahweh commanded Moses” [Exodus 40:23]
 “…just as Yahweh commanded Moses” [Exodus 40:25]
 “…just as Yahweh commanded Moses” [Exodus 40:27]
 “…just as Yahweh commanded Moses” [Exodus 40:29]
 “…just as Yahweh commanded Moses” [Exodus 40:32]
“And Moses completed (ויכל) the work (המלאכה)” [Exodus 40:33b]
Tim cites scholar Howard Wallace to make the following point:
“The structuring of the narrative in Exodus 25-40 binds the Sabbath observance closely with the construction of the sanctuary. Both are tightly connected with the question of the presence of Yahweh with his people…. The Sabbath is a significant element in the celebration of the presence of Yahweh with his people. Just as the tabernacle was built along lines specified by divine decree, so too in the sequence is the human sabbath institution modeled on the divine pattern. Since the tabernacle, which is patterned on the divine plan, reveals the presence and shares in the role of the heavenly temple to proclaim the sovereignty of Israel’s God, so the Sabbath shares in the proclamation of the sovereignty of Yahweh.”
(Howard Wallace, “Creation and Sabbath in Genesis 2:1-3,” 246.)
Tim also shares a quote from Rabbi Abraham Heschel.
“The sabbath is to time what the temple and tabernacle are to space. The sabbath is a cathedral in time. On the seventh day we experience in time what the tabernacle and temple represented as spaces which is eternal life, God in the complete creation.”
(The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel)
In part 5 (49:50-end), the guys finish up their conversation. Tim notes that the cliffhanger at the end of Exodus is that Moses and all of Israel have successfully built the tabernacle (or the tent of meeting) and God then comes to dwell in it, to meet with Israel. But when he does, his presence is too intense, and Moses is unable to go in. So what will happen? Find out next week when we turn to Numbers and Leviticus.
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The Cathedral in Time
Podcast Date: November 11, 2019
Speakers in the audio file:
Tim: On the seventh-day, we experienced in time what the tabernacle and temple represented as spaces, which is eternal life with God in a complete creation. The Sabbath is to time what the tabernacle and temple are to space: a cathedral in time.
Jon: If you've ever been on top of a mountain, or maybe looking out at the ocean and you stopped and you took it all in, you might have had a feeling come over you of grandeur, awe, peace, and a feeling of rest. Today, in this episode, we're going to talk about the ancient Jewish version of sacred space: the tabernacle. It was built as a place for Israel to worship their God, and it's intricately connected with the theme of seventh-day rest.
Tim: In Exodus 40, there's a whole paragraph when Moses sets up the tabernacle. It says, "Seven times Moses did X, Y, Z, just as Yahweh commanded Moses." When the tabernacle is built, the tabernacle blueprints are divided up into seven speeches of Yahweh. God spoke seven times to bring order to the cosmic temple in Genesis 1. When Moses builds this little, symbolic mini Cosmos, he does it by following seven divine speech commands.
Jon: I'm Jon Collins. This is the Bible project podcast. Today, we'll continue the conversation with my friend and scholar, Tim Mackey about the theme of seventh-day rest - the cathedral in time. Thanks for joining us. Here we go.
We're continuing our conversation about the seventh-day, the day of completeness, the stop day.
Tim: Yes, the stop and rest.
Jon: Stop and rest.
Tim: Stop and rest and settle in to enjoy the good world that God has provided for His people.
Jon: Built into the fabric of the way God created the universe is that six days He created, on the seventh day, He stopped, He settled in and He planted humans or placed humans in the garden that He planted so that they can reign and rule with Him on a day that never ends. The seventh-day, there's no evening and morning. This is the kind of cosmic hope that was never realized.
Tim: It was lost. It was forfeited.
Jon: And we live in now a new type of darkness and disorder that's similar to Genesis 1 darkness and disorder, but it's even more sinister in certain ways.
Tim: Yeah, in that humans participate in it and become causes of death and darkness and disorder.
Jon: And not just humans, but there's a special spiritual rebellion that's intertwined. Then you get to Pharaoh who is this bad dude who is driving the Israelites into death, and labor, and darkness. So we looked at how Exodus, the liberation of slaves into their own land to be free reenacts...the whole narrative reenacts Genesis 1.
Tim: Yeah, that's right. From darkness and death liberated as God's wind blows and separates the waters to provide dry land. That becomes the place where God will plant His people in the mountain of His dwelling and where God's Sabbath presence dwells back to Eden. That's right. And so on Israel's journey toward that ultimate seventh-day rest, they are also following now a ritual calendar that has a every seventh-day rest, and then is going to begin with a once...the first month of every year has a reenactment of the Exodus that begins at a night, and then followed by seven-day feast to replay the whole thing. Yeah, that's it. Now we're following the story of Israel. And what we're going to see is the same themes: Sabbath, seven day rest, trusting in God's provision. These are just going to cycle through in new ways. The first story where it pops up is actually right after they're liberated. It's in the story of Exodus 16. This so rad. I remember when this hit me, it was like, a ton of bricks, like, "Oh, this is what this whole story is about?" Exodus 16.
Jon: Exodus 16. Before jumping into that, in the Genesis account, six days, seventh-day rest, to get to the seventh-day, there's no wandering in the wilderness. That's kind of this new motif that develops here - the wandering in the wilderness. I just wanted to notice that.
Tim: Got it.
Jon: Because this is like the journey to the seventh day, which becomes a new idea. It's a very important idea. Because that's what we're doing. We're journeying to seventh-day.
Tim: Think about it this way. In Exodus 1 - 15, we began with the death and disorder of Pharaoh in the waters - boys being thrown in the waters. Then God rescues the human out of the waters. Just in those opening chapters of Exodus, you have a whole bunch of kind of riffing off of themes in Genesis 1 of death and slavery. Through the waters, God raises up the human. That's a way of thinking about the whole earth. That's a way of thinking about days one through six of Genesis 1. But then that's not just in Exodus 1. It flowed out to the macro level, Exodus 1 to 15, it's people rescued through the night and 10 acts of God speaking and the plagues, rescued through the waters, a wind blowing. Once they go through the dry land up to the other side, they sing a song about God planting a place of rest on a mountain where God shabbats and dwells. So then the whole Exodus story becomes a way of thinking about Genesis 1 as a whole. The moment they start their journey towards the promised land, that's going to be another restart, where now we're not in Egypt, we're now in the wilderness.
Jon: It's a new type of slavery.
Tim: We're in the wilderness. Exodus 16 opens in the wilderness. Now we're back in another land of disorder. And it's a dangerous zone. As we're going to see, they think it's a realm of death. And so Exodus 16 now will be another replay of themes from Genesis 1. It's like a riff melody that can be employed on a macro the whole Exodus story or on a micro level in individual chapters.
Tim: Exodus 16, let's just read our way into it. "All the assembly of the sons of Israel journeyed from Elim and they came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai. This was on the fifteenth day of the second month after they went out from the land of Egypt."
Jon: That's been some time.
Tim: It's been one month. They have been one month on the road. And the 15th day is the day that begins in the first month, which was the exodus. The morning of the 15th day was the morning after the night of Passover. The Passover night is the 14th, and then the 15th begins the seven days of Unleavened Bread. So it's exactly one month since they started eating the unleavened bread, so to speak, because bread is what this chapter is all about. "And they grumbled. All the assembly of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness. And they said, "Sons of Israel said, 'Oh, that we had died by the hand Yahweh in the land of Egypt. Oh, we wish Yahweh had just killed us all in Egypt.'" Why? "Well, in Egypt, we dwelt, we sat over pots of flesh, pots of meat, we sat by meat pots, when we ate bread to fullness. For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this entire assembly with hunger." This is one chapter after they were singing God’s praise. One chapter but 30 days.
Jon: The mood has changed.
Tim: Yeah, the mood's changed, to say the least. First of all, they see the wilderness as a land of death. We're back to a realm of death.
Jon: Well, it kind of is. I mean, the wilderness is not a great place.
Tim: No. Yeah, people can't live out there. There are two little clues in vs 3. One is "when we sat by pots of meat." The word “sat" b’shevteno. It has the three letters of the word "Shabbat" in there - shevteno. When you're reading in Hebrew you just see the word "Shabbat" right there. "When we shabbated by pots of meat, we ate bread to completeness - fullness."
Jon: Which is the word.
Tim: It's that word. It's that word that spelled with the same three letters as the word seven. Sheva. We ate bread to soba: to the completeness. In the same line, you see the word Shabbat and seven. What they experience in the wilderness is as an anti-Shabbat and anti-seventh-day. They see it as the realm of lack and the realm of wandering and restlessness. They view Egypt as Eden. Do you see this? They're looking back on Egypt. That's where we had Shabbat and fullness and completeness.
Jon: We just read those chapters, and they were not experiencing that.
Tim: Totally, yeah. The psychology of the story is so interesting. The portrayal is that humans create the very opposite of what God wants for us but our expectations and desires become so bent and distorted that we can look back on terrible things as the best thing we ever had. That's really interesting. It makes me think of that C. S. Lewis theme about how our desires are too shallow. Children making mud pies when mom's apple pie is like cooling in the window, but they're perfectly happy eating mud. Anyway, the Lord said to Moses, "Look, I am about to rain on you all bread from heaven - bread from the skies. The people will go out and they will gather each on its day - each day on its day, in order that I may test them to see if they will walk in my Torah or not." God's going to rain bread every day.
Jon: Somehow that's a test.
Tim: That's going to provide a test for whether God's people will follow His Torah. "Look, it will come about On the sixth day that they shall...
Jon: Six days from?
Tim: God's going to rain bread from heaven...it just says every day. Each day on its day. But on the sixth day, He's going to rain bread from heaven for five days. On the sixth day, they shall set aside what they bring in, and it shall be double for what they collect each day. So you collect a little bit of bread every day for five days. On the sixth day...
Jon: You get double.
Tim: ...you gather two times what you did the previous day's. Let's just pause. I mean, all this language we...Egypt was where we had Sabbath and fullness. Here in the realm of death, God's going to provide bread from the skies. Only the creator of Heaven on Earth can do that. That's the idea here. He's going to provide bread in the realm of death.
Jon: Abundance that you don't have to create.
Tim: He's going to provide it in a pattern that just chirp sounds like we're setting up something to do with Genesis 1.
Jon: A seven-day pattern.
Tim: Yeah. Because on the sixth day, you gather two times, which means on the seventh day, you don't go out there and provide for yourself. You trust that God has given you enough to last into the seventh-day. For six, Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, "In the evening, y'all will know that Yahweh brought you out from the land of Egypt. And by the morning y'all will see the glory of Yahweh for He has heard your grumblings. As for us, why are you complaining against us?" Moses said, "When the Lord gives to you all in the flesh to eat and bread in the morning for fullness or completeness because he has listened to your grumblings, which are grumbling against Him, and us Why are you grumbling against...you're not grumbling against us, but against the Lord." The idea is, it's all building up towards the seventh day. God's going to provide bread for seventh-day. For six days gather twice, but don't go out and gather on the seventh day. That's the idea. As the story goes on, God's going to appear...His glory appears in the cloud. This is in verses nine and following. "His glory appears in the cloud," and he says, "I'm going to rain down quail in the evening." So God does that. But really it's just mentioned in one sentence, and then it's gone. He provides. Remember, they said, "we had meat in Egypt." So God provides meat. But the focus of the story is really on this bread.
Jon: Sky bread.
Tim: Totally. Vs 13, "It came about in the evening - I think in the evening and in the morning as Genesis 1 - in the evening, quail came and covered the camp.
Jon: Covered. Did it settle in?
Tim: Oh, yes. Interesting. Yes. It covered the camp.
Jon: That's a different word then.
Tim: In the morning, there was a layer of dew all around the camp, a laying down of dew. Then the layer of dew lifted. So there's this watery dew covering the grass in the morning as often happens maybe depending on where you live. But then once the dew evaporated, look, there was on the face of the wilderness this thin wafer. Thin like frost - a layer of frost on the ground. And the sons of Israel saw it and they said each to his neighbor, "mān." They say in Hebrew, "mān," because they didn't know what it was. Moses said to them, "This is the bread which Yahweh has given to y'all for food." Remember on the sixth day on Genesis 1?
Jon: Yeah, the plants and the vegetation.
Tim: "Behold I give to y'all for food" it's the same exact phrase in Hebrew.
Jon: It's the same phrase.
Tim: "I give to y'all for food. On the sixth day, the food and the plants are here. But here in the wilderness, they get this thin frosty wafer. This leftover. Then he commands them. He says, "This is what you're going to get every day, this thin layer of bread. Each day, just get what you need." And then it tells you, everybody went and gathered. And, you know, whether the gathers a lot or a little, they take it back home and there was just enough for everybody in their house for that day." So every day God provides exactly what you need. But then there comes a day every week where you gather more than you have for these five days and you trust that that extra you've gathered is going to last for the seventh day. And so it becomes this rhythm then of "God provides for us just what we need on one day. Then every once in a while He does something crazy where we go out on a limb and we gather extra trusting that when it will last for that day of lack, and that the day after that, it'll start showing up again." It's this rhythm. Then they don't obey the commands. All these people go out on the seventh day looking for it, and Moses gets angry. Or some people...
Jon: It's hard to stop.
Tim: Totally. You can see what's going on here and how it rip off of Genesis 1. But in a new way. Because now whether people will stop...
Jon: I see, this is the test. "Will you stop?"
Tim: It's the test. "Will you stop?" It's about trust. Trust. There's a scholar named Stephen Geller, who wrote an essay on this. He calls, ..."the manna is like...he calls it a taste of new creation." It says in Exodus 16, "Manna is presented as a new work of creation that disrupts the established order of creation." There's a clear parallelism between the creation account in Genesis 1 and Exodus 16. In both passages, there's a difference between the first six days and the seventh day. In Genesis 1, the work of each day is good, marked as good. And that term "marks" its completion. But on the sixth day, things are very good.
Jon: Double portion.
Tim: Extra good. Corresponding to this is "the manna provided for each day" that becomes the good, so to speak, of days one through five. And then the bread provided on the sixth day becomes the very good. And then the seventh day becomes now a day to join God in His rest.
Jon: Even in the wilderness.
Tim: Even now in the wilderness trusting that God will provide. In a way, the Sabbath now presents people with a choice, are they going to trust God with what he has provided for them and imitate His rest? And remember, God's glorious presence showed up in this narrative when the bread started showing up. So it's trusting that God's with us here. That we are resting with Him. Even in the desert, we pretend like we're in Eden and we trust that the little bit He's given us is like the abundance of Eden that will last even on the seventh-day. That's the story here. This story happens before the commandments to follow the Sabbath. People have often noticed this.
Jon: It's foreshadowing it.
Tim: The Ten Commandments aren't even given yet in the narrative time.
Jon: But they're already practicing the rhythm.
Tim: Yes. When the Sabbath command comes, the idea is it's just giving a structure to a rhythm they're already supposed to be in. Because it's the rhythm of creation itself.
Jon: And it's simplest manifestation where in the future you're going to be farming and you're going to be doing commerce and all this stuff. This is just simply, "let's go and pick up the desert way for stuff. That's all you got. It's all you need, it's all you got."
Tim: You didn't work for it.
Jon: And then on the sixth day, it's get more and seventh-day, just stop. Don't get any. Trust there's enough.
Tim: Which is crazy in the wilderness to not go hunt and gather every waking moment.
Tim: Or irresponsible.
Jon: Irresponsible. "Here we are in the wilderness but things are cruel and we're fighting for our lives and we're just going to sit around?"
Tim: "For a whole day? Just trusting that God's going to turn on the dew again tomorrow morning on the eighth day?" That's the image.
Tim: That's the image. In the exodus story, the seventh day was about God liberating his people into life in the new Eden. But now the observance of the seventh day is about the ongoing trust of God's people to trust that He will provide. It's irresponsible, inconvenient.
Jon: "Get off your butt and pick up some dew flakes." Tim: Yeah, that's right.
Tim: The manna, the bread from heaven, is God's surprising...That's why I call it Eden bread. There's a parallel story to this in Number 11 on the other side of Mount Sinai. That's the place where what the manna looks like is described. It has the color and sheen of the precious stone...
Jon: It uses the same word.
Tim: ...that are in the Garden of Eden.
Jon: Only two times that word appears in the Bible, right?
Tim: Correct, yeah. That's why I call it the bread of Eden. It's the seventh-day bread of Eden. It comes from the heavenly realm of God's ultimate Sabbath rest.
Jon: So, what is it?
Tim: The point is every seven days now they're in this rhythm as long as they're in the wilderness. And the manna shuts off the moment they step into the promised land. There's a little note in the book of Joshua when they cross the Jordan that says "and the manna shabbat." It says, "And the manna shabbated on that day." So the whole 40-year journey through the wilderness now is marked as a new kind of Sabbath in the future anticipation. Let's hit two points of Exodus real quick. Sabbath is now an act of faith and trust in God's provision as they journeyed to Mount Sinai. They journey to Mount Sinai and God's glory appears just like it did in the desert when He provided bread. Now God's glory will appear on top of this mountain, and He's going to invite them into a covenant relationship. The first set of terms of that covenant relationship that God gives are 10 words.
Jon: Ten words.
Tim: Exodus 20 otherwise known as the Ten Commands. Sabbath is the fourth or the third command depending on how people count the commands. Have we talked about this?
Tim: There are different ways that religious traditions number the Ten Commandments. We talked about this?
Tim: Okay. The ten commandments come, Moses is up on the mountain, people are down at the bottom, God speaks 10 words. The first thing that God says is "I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt from the house of slavery." So the question is, is that implied command? Namely, "have me as your only God." Because the next phrase is "you shall have no other gods before me." So the question is, is are those two commands or is that one command?
Jon: If it's two commands, it would be 11. Wouldn't they?
Tim: If it's two commands, then what happens is the "Thou shall not covet" down in Exodus 20:17, it says, "Do not covet the house of your neighbor, do not covet the wife of your neighbor, or his slave or female slave or his donkey." In other words, there are two verbs: Do not covet his house, do not covet his wife and all these other things. Traditions that get to the last command, "don't covet," they take those two verbs, and if you've made "I am the Lord your God" the first command and "have no other gods before me" as your second command, then what you do is you take the two "do not covet" and you merge them together into one statement. If you take the first phrase, "I'm the Lord your God don't have any other gods," if you take that as your first command, then by the time you get to "don't covet," you need two.
Jon: I've never realized this.
Tim: You have "don't covet the house of your neighbor" as the ninth and then you have "don't covet the wife of your neighbor" and so on as the 10th. Wikipedia has a really nice chart.
Jon: Yeah, I see that. Wait, which one was I taught?
Tim: It's the one on the left here, which they say is embodied in the Septuagint according to the Christian tradition. The first command in most Christian traditions is "have no other gods." Number two is "don't make idols." Number three, "don't take the Lord's name in vain." Number four, "Sabbath." Five "Honor your father and mother." Six, "don't murder." Seventh "don't commit adultery." Eight, "don't steal." Nine, "don't bear false witness." And then "don't covet your neighbor's house; don't covet your neighbor's wife" is just one command, don't covet. Oh, I see. In Calvin's Institute's he thinks that "I am Lord your God" is an implied first command but combined with "have no other gods," which is also the first part of the first command. The trick is do you go by the substance of what the command means or are you going by the number of actual sentences in the text?
Jon: Is this important?
Tim: Not really. Well, to some people it is.
Tim: The point is there are 10 things that God says to do or not to do
Jon: But there's a discrepancy on how those are counted?
Jon: It is interesting.
Tim: This all got dissolved from whether the Sabbath is the third command or the fourth command.
Jon: Got it.
Tim: Either way you put it, either way, the Sabbath command consists of seven statements. One, "remembers the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Two, "six days you will labor." Three "and do all your work." Four, "but the seventh day is a Sabbath of Yahweh or God." Five, "you shall do no work," and then a list who's included in that you: you, your son, your daughter, male, female slave, cattle, or sojourner. Six or the sixth part of the command is "for in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that's in them, and he rested on the seventh day." Therefore, seven, Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and he made it holy. People actually have differed on the micro distinction of the seven parts. That's pretty widely recognized. If you break out the main sentence clauses of the seven commandments...
Jon: Is this intuitive in Hebrew? Because in English it feels arbitrary when these breaks are.
Tim: Oh, really? You think so?
Jon: Well, six days you will labor and do all your work. Why isn't that one? Why is that two? It feels like one phrase.
Tim: Well, it's two separate sentences. Six days you will labor and you will do all your work. Oh, you're right. A lot of its English phrasing.
Jon: Well, and then the fifth one, that's a lot of phrases in there.
Tim: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you will labor and you will do all your work. And the seventh day is a Shabbat for Yahweh your God." In terms of complete sentences in Hebrew, yeah, you're right. "You will not do any work.? Who's the "you"? The list.
Jon: The list is subordinate then.
Tim: Yeah. Because in six days, Yahweh made the skies and the land and the sea and all that's in them. And He was rested on the seventh day.
Jon: That's not a complete sentence?
Tim: What's that?
Jon: And he rested on the seventh day.
Tim: Actually right. "And He rested on the seventh day" is the beginning of a new sentence. If anything, "and he rested on the seventh day" begins the main sentence of the command Sabbath. Notice here we have the combination of Shabbat because it's called the Sabbath, but then His rest on the seventh day is not the verb Shabbat. It's the verb nuakh. So we've combined God's resting which is the ceasing from work and then his nuaking, which is settling in with His presence.
Jon: This is hard to follow, especially if you're just listening. But the Sabbath command...
Tim: Consists of seven sentences.
Jon: ....consists of seven Hebrew sentences. Yes, of course, it does.
Tim: Yeah, of course, it does. This is actually where we started the conversation. We talked about the Sabbath command in the seventh. In the flow of our conversation now, you can see the Sabbath command is late in the game in terms of the development of the steam. The steam is well warmed by the time we hit...
Jon: You should get this command and you'd be like, "Oh, yeah, that makes sense." Got it. This is what we've been doing with the manna. I get it from the creation story. Everything is leading to this.
Tim: This is Hebrew Bible scholarly Leigh Trevaskis. I'll draw on his work again when we talk about the seven lights of the menorah. But he makes an observation about the Sabbath and Ten Commandments. I thought his way of putting things together was helpful. He says, "The sabbatical rest, the seventh-day rest, reminds Israel of her covenant obligations as Yahweh's new creation. Though this rest is more immediately connected to the exodus in this chapter, its roots are in the creation story. And by connecting Israel's remembrance of her redemption from Egypt with the sabbatical rest, the exodus becomes infused with further theological significance. Just as God's seventh-day rest and the creation story is the emergence of His new creation, so Israel's sabbatical rest attests to her emergence as Yahweh's new creation."
Jon: It's what we talked about in the last hour.
Tim: That's right. The point is, in the Ten Commandments, "I am Yahweh who brought you out of Egypt so rest on the seventh day because that's what I did in creation" it's merging Exodus and creation. "You sent Israel's identity as a new creation" is tied up with the terms of the covenant. Israel's sabbatical rest recalls her obligation to remain faithful to it to live according to her creator's world. This helpful. He's drawn it together. They make the covenant. You get Israel is at Mount Sinai, the Ten Commands are just the first of...there's 42 more to follow.
Jon: Right after?
Tim: Six times seven commands: Exodus 22:23. Then in Exodus 24, God shows up again on the mountain. Do I have this? Yes.
Jon: Wait, I just want to make sure I understand. Exodus 20, 10 commands. Then...
Tim: Exodus 19, they march up to the mountain.
Jon: March up to the mountain, marriage ceremony, covenant: "I'm going to be your God. You're going to be my people. Here are the terms of the covenant. Here's 10." The third or fourth, depending on how you count, Sabbath. Then after that, there's six times seven more commands?
Jon: Okay. And then after those commands is a story we're about to read.
Tim: Is the narrative of making of the covenant. I want you to look up Exodus 24.
Jon: Exodus 24.
Tim: "Yahweh said to Moses, 'Come up to the Yahweh, you and Aaron, Nadab - those are two sons - and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. But then, Moses..." They're supposed to come like partway up the mountain. Just this crew. "But then Moses alone is to approach Yahweh. The others, let's not come here." Moses went comes down and he tells Israel the 10 plus 42 commands that he's got. And the people respond with one voice, "Everything Yahweh has said, we're going to do it." And Moses starts writing down. It's the first mention of the writing of the laws of the Torah. He gets up, builds a symbolic altar with 12 stones. He sacrifices burnt offerings. He takes the blood, he splashes some on the altar, and he reads the laws of the covenant. And then he splashes blood on the people. It's a little gross for us. But the idea is the altar is a symbol of Israel's offering of itself to God. The blood gets sprinkled there and the blood gets sprinkled on the actual people who are dedicating their lives. Because the blood is the life.
Jon: The blood is life.
Tim: The blood is the life.
Jon: And this is all about life?
Tim: Yeah. Well, this is later on about the meaning of the blood. But you offer the animal which is blameless - it's supposed to be a spotless, blameless - and its life ascends up to Yahweh in the smoke as your blameless representative to be in Yahweh's presence - heavenly presence. So half of the blood goes on the altar, which is going to translate your representative up to God's space, and then half of it goes on you, implication being you live in the present as if true of your substitute is true of you. Then Moses and Aaron and all the elders, they go up and they saw the God of Israel.
Jon: Wait, what verse is that?
Tim: This is vs 9 and 10. They go halfway up the mountain, Moses and his crew, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement. Like a surface.
Jon: Oh, this is the firmament.
Tim: Yeah. They're ascending a cosmic mountain, they're getting close to the dome.
Jon: They get into the dome. In a sky dome.
Tim: Totally. What they see is sort of hard surface of Sapphire.
Jon: It's bright blue.
Tim: It's blue. And of course, it is because that's what the sky dome is. But God didn't send out His hand against the leaders of Israel. So they just sat there seeing God through the blue. It's as if they can almost peer through the heavens to see through to the one sitting on His throne.
Jon: And they have a meal.
Tim: And they have a meal there in God's presence on top of the cosmic mountain.
Tim: Go down to vs 15. This is when Moses ascends up now to the top. He leaves those guys behind, he goes up to the top. Moses went up. Now he's up there where the top of the mountain meets the cosmic around. The cloud covered it, and the glory Have you always settled on the mountain. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day, Yahweh called to Moses from within the cloud.
Jon: Wow. Moses had to just chill out for six days waiting.
Tim: Notice there's six and the seven now and we can just do lots of things with it. It's a period of waiting and testing. We know that from the manna story. But also the seventh day is when God's presence becomes fully available. And so now Moses, he's on a high mountain just like Eden. And on the seventh day, God meets him there.
Jon: Can you imagine Moses the first day being like, "Where's God?" The second day is, like, "Men, what's going on." The third day like, "Okay, I think I'm going to have to wait six days. I get it."
Tim: "I get it. This is my test." And they just saw God up there. All the imagery is connecting this to Eden temple imagery. Here's the deal. What does God have to say to Moses as he's up there on the seventh-day? Chapter 25. Chapter 25 begins the blueprints of the tabernacle. The macro design of the rest of Exodus is so interesting. You get Exodus 24, Moses is up there for a Sabbath cycle. God's presence meets him on the seventh day, and God starts revealing to Moses what He calls the pattern. He says, "Make a tabernacle according to the pattern that I've shown you." So we just learned from the narrative Moses is now up where heaven and earth are one, and he's looking up into the heavenly Throne Room.
Jon: And God came and rested there.
Tim: And now he's saying, "Look This is all a pattern. You're being shown a pattern as you get to stand here in the divine council."
Jon: "You got to see the temple."
Tim: He's seeing the heavenly temple. And then he's told to make the tabernacle as a replica or a symbolic model of the heavenly temple. He's told that multiple times. What's going to happen is he's going to be given the tabernacle instructions. They're boring to read.
Jon: Exodus 25 to 31.
Tim: Chapters 25 to 31. The last part of the tabernacle instructions is actually not about the tabernacle. It's another law reminding you to keep the Sabbath. The story that follows that is the story of the golden calf. The golden calf debacle takes up three chapters (chapters, 32, 33 and 34)...
Jon: He comes down off of the mountain, he finds Israelites breaking the first two commands.
Tim: That's right. Then he asked to intercede. He offers his life in the place of Israel. A very powerful story. We explored some parts of that. God chooses to renew the covenant.
Jon: We read that Psalm that's riffing of off of it.
Tim: Yeah, it's Psalm 90. The moment Moses has interceded, God chooses to forgive and renew the covenant, we get a narrative block about the building of the tabernacle that begins in chapter 35 and goes to chapter 40. But the first narrative image about the building of the tabernacle isn't about the tabernacle. It's actually another reminder to keep the seven days of the Sabbath. Then you get the building of the tabernacle. The whole of Exodus 25-40 is a gigantic cemetery with the tabernacle model of the heavenly temple, a reminder of the Sabbath. And then the center of it is the golden calf.
Jon: It's the rebellion and the intercession.
Tim: Yeah, totally. That's the first step. The second step: when you walk into Exodus 25-31, which is the blueprints of the heavenly temple, and you start reading, you're going to read...it begins, "And Yahweh spoke to Moses saying." Then you get all these instructions for the materials, the ark, the table of bread, the menorah. You get long description of blueprints. Then in chapter 30:11, "...and Yahweh spoke to Moses saying..." and then you get another set of commands. Exodus 30:17, "and Yahweh spoke to Moses saying..." In other words, the blueprints are all broken up into these acts of divine speech.
Jon: There are so many there. Is there 10? Tim: There are seven.
Jon: Oh, there's seven.
Tim: Yeah. And the seventh one is that command about keeping the Sabbath. Dude, this is like spin your brain kind of literary complexity. The tabernacle blueprints, Exodus 25-31. The narrative about the building of the tabernacle are both designed with all these patterns imitating Genesis 1.
Jon: You've talked about this before and we've never really gone into it, about how...
Tim: It's easiest to look at the chart that's in front of you and...
Jon: We'll put this in the show notes - the chart?
Tim: Can we copy and paste a chart?
Jon: I don't know.
Tim: I don't think the show notes are built for that kind of thing.
Jon: Maybe we could link to an image of the chart.
Tim: We'll just talk through it. We'll talk through the rows here real quick. There are seven days...
Jon: Backing up, Moses gets the blueprints of the pattern for the tabernacle. The whole blueprint kind of structure starts with five or six chapters of blueprints ends with Sabbath command, golden calf debacle. Then we get a whole nother set of blueprint instructions, which is really just the same blueprint structure.
Tim: It's almost verbatim except instead of saying "you will build" it's "and they built."
Jon: So it's them building it. And it begins with a Sabbath instruction.
Jon: What we're going to look at right now is the first set of tabernacle instructions
Tim: I call that the blueprints. The blueprints are in the middle column. The narrative about the building and completion of the tabernacle is on the right column. And then on the left column stuff from Genesis 1.
Jon: All right.
Tim: Genesis 1, each of the seven days opens with "...and God said." Acts of divine speech. The tabernacle blueprints are divided up into seven speeches of Yahweh. When the tabernacle is built, in Exodus 40, there's a whole paragraph where Moses sets up the tabernacle. And it says, "...and Moses set up the ark, just as Yahweh commanded Moses. And he set up the table of showbread just as Yahweh commanded..." mean, it's a really boring paragraph to read.
Jon: Right. But there are seven commands.
Tim: It says, "Seven times, Moses did X, Y, Z just as Yahweh commanded Moses."
Jon: Got it.
Tim: Seven times over, he obeys the divine command. The idea is God spoke seven times to bring order to the cosmic temple in Genesis 1. The tabernacle is presented as a mini cosmos brought into being through seven acts of divine speech. When Moses builds this little symbolic mini cosmos...
Jon: He dedicates it in seven...
Tim: He does it by following seven divine speech commands of God. In Genesis 1, the seventh day is the Sabbath. In the tabernacle blueprint, the seventh divine speech is about keeping the Sabbath. The building of the tabernacle, after Moses' seventh act of obedience, the divine glory comes to fill the temple.
Jon: To come and rest.
Tim: That's right. Genesis 1, the sixth-day end God saying, "And God saw all that he had done, and behold, very good. There was evening and morning, the sixth day." When Moses builds the tabernacle in Exodus 39, "And Moses saw all the work that they had done, and behold, it was just as Yahweh commanded." Genesis 2, "...and the skies and the land were completed. Exodus 40, "...and Moses completed all of the work." Genesis 2:1-2, "...and God rested on the seventh day." Exodus 40, "...and the cloud covered the tent of meeting; the glory of Yahweh filled the tent." What's the meaning of God stopping on the seventh day in Genesis 1? We know, one, is when He stops working. But we also noticed that implied with that as God's presence filling. But it doesn't explicitly say that in Genesis 1.
Jon: But it does in Genesis 2.
Tim: It doesn't in Genesis 2. And then as you follow the pattern through the seventh day is the place when God's rest. He takes up his rest, He settles. In this case, the image is of God's glory filling the tabernacle.
Jon: Cool. Then He rested from all His work.
Tim: Totally. Yeah, yeah. Here's the scholar lots of people notice. This has been noticed by lots of people. Howard Wallace, an essay called Creation and Sabbath in Genesis 2. He says, "The structuring of the narrative about the tabernacle in Exodus 25-40, it binds the Sabbath observance closely with the construction of the sanctuary. Both are tightly connected with the question of the presence of Yahweh with His people. The Sabbath is a significant element in the celebration of the presence of Yahweh with his people. Since the tabernacle, which is pattern on the divine plan, reveals the presence and shares in the role of the heavenly temple to proclaim the sovereignty of Israel's God, so the Sabbath shares an a proclamation on the sovereignty of Yahweh. Do you want to try and bind all this together? I'm trying to bind it together in my mind too.
Jon: Yeah. Moses is up on the mountain, experienced God's presence up in the sky.
Tim: When it arrived on the seventh day.
Jon: It arrived on the seventh day. And what he experienced, we don't really know. But he came down and he gave instructions to build something here on Earth that patterns what he saw and experienced. And part of that was, I guess, the space that he was in and the things he saw and experienced, but part of that is rest of God's presence. And him being there was this moment of completeness and rest that also needed to be patterned in this temple experience. And so when he came down to give the blueprints, the whole thing is modeled after Genesis 1 in many different ways and in the series of seven speeches. And on the seventh speech is about rest, which is what the seventh-day was about - this command to rest. The command to rest, and this what we've been saying, it's all about anticipating and pretending like creation has completed.
Tim: Yeah, anticipating that future day, as Isaiah says, when creation is filled with knowing Yahweh filled with God's glory.
Jon: Because the temple is in a way also anticipating that. You've described this before. The temple is like this mini symbolic creation.
Tim: A microcosmos.
Jon: A microcosmos. And it's just like when you're in the temple, you're supposed to think of like, "Oh, this is like God's presence filling the whole earth." But it's just filling the temple. It's like a symbol of what creation is meant to be.
Tim: That's right. There's a famous line from Abraham Heschel's book on the Sabbath which he begins with talking about how we're obsessed with space.
Jon: Oh, right. The Masters of space?
Tim: Yeah, totally. He has this one-liner that's become apocryphal and re- rendered in many different ways, but it's perfect one-liner. "The Sabbath is to time what the tabernacle and temple are to space." So what he says then is the Sabbath - he calls it a cathedral in time - on the seventh day we experienced in time what the tabernacle and temple represented spaces, which is eternal life with God in the complete creation.
Jon: There's something about that day, the structure of that day it's supposed to feel like entering a cathedral or a temple.
Tim: Cathedral meaning a sacred space - a place where heaven and earth are one. Which is Eden, which was the gift of God that he mints for the seventh-day. It's a gift they forfeited. Even as Israel wanders through the wilderness, they're given a gift of divine glory and bread. And they're to stop on the seventh-day and trust that the glory and bread of Yahweh will be enough for them as they're on their journey to the ultimate Eden.
Jon: If new creation is God, recreating, restructuring time and space, space and time, it's much easier for us to kind of anticipate what space will feel like when it's complete. But it's much harder for us to imagine what time will be like when it's complete.
Jon: Of present moment being full and complete and abundant. And just like we need rules, commands in order space and what the temple does, we need a command of how to set aside time to be sacred and complete. That's the Sabbath.
Tim: Yeah, that's right. I like the space and time two dimensions. There's a point at which the completion and fullness of God's presence and will heals and brings wholeness to time and space. In Genesis 1, both of those are brought together in the gift of a complete creation on the seventh-day.
Jon: God orders space. I mean, that's what Genesis 1-6 is. It's just a lot ordering of space.
Tim: The days one through six?
Jon: Well, I guess in time. Tim: That's right.
Tim: Days one through six you're matching through the waters and land on your way to...
Jon: Day one is ordering time in a way - light and dark. Day four is ordering time. But days two and three it's ordering space. Five and six, more space.
Tim: I mean, if you think, we are making a video right now that will be about the space theme on the cosmic temple in Genesis 1. In a way This video, we're taking space and doing a video about that called temple. We're taking the time and making a video about that when we're not sure what we're going to call it yet. But that's the idea. And the genius of Genesis 1 is that they both intersect on the seventh day.
Jon: Something Albert Einstein later discovers as well.
Tim: Totally. The tabernacle is another intersection of seventh-day and a new symbolic Eden.
Jon: Of course, when you're told the blueprints of the temple, you got to have some commands about time too. Because space and time are one.
Tim: Yeah. So the Sabbath commands flank they are at the ending of the blueprints. And the Sabbath command begins the narrative of the building of the tabernacle.
Jon: And then the Sabbath image of dwelling, resting, ends the whole thing.
Tim: The last lines of Exodus are Yahweh's presence fills the tent. Hooray! But it was so intense that Moses can't even enter.
Jon: The Sabbath is too intense for us mere mortals.
Tim: That's the cliffhanger at the end of Exodus that makes you turn the page into Leviticus.
Jon: What can we do as humans to prepare ourselves for Sabbath rest?
Tim: God's created a little micro Eden and planted it among Israel. But the Israel that he just came among is Israel that worship idols. The real creator is too much for them. They want a God that they can handle and understand. And so, how is God going to invite idolatrous, selfish people into the Sabbath? They're going to have to be changed in some way. That's the Book of Leviticus.
Jon: Become holy.
Tim: That's our next step is looking at the way these themes are picked up and developed in the book of Leviticus and Numbers.
Jon: Thanks for listening to this episode of The Bible Project podcast. If you're new to the show, or a longtime listener, you might know that we have a YouTube channel. These discussions get boiled down to five minutes, animated video and we put him up