Chapter 35:4-29 (ESV) - Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD's contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats' hair, tanned rams' skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.
“Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the LORD has commanded: the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases; the ark with its poles, the mercy seat, and the veil of the screen; the table with its poles and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; the lampstand also for the light, with its utensils and its lamps, and the oil for the light; and the altar of incense, with its poles, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the door, at the door of the tabernacle; the altar of burnt offering, with its grating of bronze, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin and its stand; the hangings of the court, its pillars and its bases, and the screen for the gate of the court; the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court, and their cords; the finely worked garments for ministering in the Holy Place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests.”
Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD's contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD. And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats' hair or tanned rams' skins or goatskins brought them. Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the LORD's contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats' hair. And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.
Question to consider: Why was it important that the materials and skills provided for the tabernacle came from people with willing hearts to give?
Over the course of these final chapters of Exodus, the people carry out the detailed instructions the LORD gave to Moses regarding the building of the tabernacle. Because I already went into detail about the meaning of each part of the tabernacle, its contents, and the priestly garb in the chapters in which the LORD gave the instructions, I will move rather quickly through these chapters.
Today’s passage described the call that Moses gave to the people for the materials and manpower needed to build all that the LORD had commanded. It was not a question of whether the LORD would provide these things but that He already had provided them when He delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt. Interestingly enough, though God gave the craftsmen the skills to properly adorn the tabernacle, they most likely honed those skills through their forced labor in Egypt. Personally, I find it comforting to know that the LORD uses our times of suffering for His good purposes. Those who belong to the LORD never suffer in vain.
Even though the LORD provided all of the materials and abilities to carry out the job of building and tending to His tabernacle, He still only desired to receive from those who had a generous heart to give. The tabernacle was going to be the place where the LORD would dwell among His people, and this was an opportunity for the people to be a part of building it.
The ongoing maintenance of the tabernacle, the incense and oil, the sacrifices, and the care of the priests was done through the temple tax and tithe which the LORD made a part of the Law. That part was an obligation and would be a test of faith for some as they faced difficult times.
Under the New Covenant in Christ, we are no longer under the Law. We are not building a tabernacle but the kingdom of God! The LORD loves a cheerful giver who recognizes that all good things come from Him, and we are given the opportunity to be a part of God’s building plan. By this, I’m not talking about the latest church-building fad for attracting more “giving units,” or churches that are willing to compromise the truth of God’s word to be more popular in the culture. The kingdom of God is built by making true disciples through a church that is faithful to the command of Christ to baptize and teach all the Christ has commanded, both Law and Gospel. If you struggle with giving cheerfully for this purpose, it is important to search your heart and find out why that is.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for letting us be a part of building Your kingdom. In our struggles to be generous, I ask that You give us a renewed joy to love and serve You through Your church. Help us to use the resources and abilities You have given us to bring You glory and to invest in things that do not decay with time. Amen.