Chapter 25:1-9 (ESV) - The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats' hair, tanned rams' skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.
Question to consider: Why does the LORD tell Moses to take up a contribution from the people for His tabernacle?
When people talk about heaven, they paint a picture of the mansions that God has for them, or of a grand inheritance that doesn’t rust or wear out like earthly possessions. They talk about great feasts or being reunited with loved ones or being able to participate in their favorite activities or exploring the universe unobstructed by time or space. However, scripture describes heaven as being the place in which all of God’s people can finally gather together without sin to praise the creator of our souls. The focus of heaven is not us but God. This is not to say that we won’t have feasts in heaven or that the only activity is getting dressed up in robes and singing hymns. I am sure that it is far more wonderful than I could ever describe with human words, but God will be at the center of all of it.
A key component of the covenant established by God with the people of Israel was the promise that He would dwell among them in the land. Until that time came, the LORD would be in their midst through the tabernacle. In the New Testament, the everlasting covenant in Christ Jesus, we are the tabernacle of God. The Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of all believers. The church is not a building but the gathering of believers in worship. With that in mind, we are grateful to have a place to gather where we can serve one another in joy, be baptized, hear God’s word and receive the body and blood of Christ in communion.
The LORD is omnipresent and could have dwelt among them without the tabernacle, but as I’ve mentioned before, because the LORD exists, He has an authoritative opinion on how He will receive worship. So God told Moses to take up a contribution from among the people. The list of items is very expensive and ornate, but the LORD was not asking for things the people did not already possess. He had already provided to them an abundance of treasure from the riches of Egypt and just asked for a portion from each of them to be a part of His dwelling.
God doesn’t need our money, but it has meaning when we are willing to give a portion of what God has given us in order to have a place where we can gather and worship Him. It connects us to something and says that our relationship with God and other believers is of great importance. This is vastly different from the self-anointed church swindlers who try to guilt a congregation of believers into giving money so that they can have a mansion or a private jet. We don’t build a cathedral to be able to brag to people about our stained glass windows or expensive pipe organ. We build a sacred space that is set apart from the world (holy) so that we may gather with our fellow believers to praise the living God and receive His good gifts for us.
Dear heavenly father, help us to view the gathering of believers in worship as a matter of great importance. Please give us pastors who serve Christ rather than themselves, and a desire to invest ourselves in the congregation in which You have called us to serve. Amen.