God is pleased with the people’s response. He wants to give them a closer relationship with Him by moving into their midst.
When the people left Egypt they carried off gold, silver and textile goods. They got these by asking their Egyptian neighbors for them and their neighbors GAVE it to them! That was one of God’s amazing miracles too. How many people do you know that, when simply asked, will turn their wealth over to another? There was no threat or weapon held to their heads. They gave because GOD gave the Israelites favor in the eyes of the Egyptians.
I have a feeling that there was some fear too because of all the plagues they were suffering. NOBODY wanted to give the Hebrew God another reason to be mad at them.
So the Israelites were wealthy. But there was nowhere to spend this wealth. There wasn’t a bank on the corner with a safe deposit box where it could be stashed. There was no mall to take it and spend it on the latest gadget. There wasn’t even a place where they could trade it in for bitcoin to transfer around the world. Instead there were bundles and possibly trunks where they could store it and lug it around from campsite to campsite. It was beautiful and it was valuable but it wasn’t useful.
God had a use for it though. But He wasn’t going to pry it out of the people’s hands for His own use. He didn’t want to deal with the grudging attitude of He MADE me give it to Him or he TOOK it from me. Instead He wanted the attitude to be, I was ALLOWED to give Him a gift and look what He did with it!
He had a design He wanted to make so that His presence could be with the people. But that design was going to take raw materials, time, talent, and commitment from the people. He COULD have simply spoke His design into existence. It would have been no harder that it was to speak the array of flowers into life.
But God wanted his people invested in the making of a place for Him. He didn’t want one person to have all the honor for bringing to life His designs. He wanted the WHOLE GROUP to come together and pour their hearts into the process.
First though was getting them to part with what they had. I was just thinking about this and it reminds me of the story of the woman who gave the two tiny coins into the treasury while Jesus watched. She gave all she had to live on. The gold being carried by the Israelites represented their future. They couldn’t spend it where they were at or along their journey but they expected to need it in their new home. They would have to “buy bread” someday after all. I wonder if they thought of this when Moses later asked for it from them. But by that time things had changed quite a bit. That is a story for another day.
Right now God is laying the ground work for what He is going to do. “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” (verse 2). God wants this contribution to come from a willing heart. If you can’t turn your gift lose when you place it in His hands, then it is best if you keep it. Because then it has become your god.
Someone I love once said something about the money used by the church. “They used my money to go on a vacation.” He was talking about the many trips the pastoral staff took to foreign countries. They called them mission trips while he called them vacations. The point here was that he was still holding onto the money he put in the offering plate as if HE had control over what it was used for.
Let me make this abundantly clear. When you give a gift you relinquish ALL control or say as to how it is used once it leaves your hands. But when you “earmark” funds for a specific purpose you retain the rights of accountability. The person receiving such resources is promising to use them in the way specified by the giver.
God gives us free gifts. He also gives us earmarked gifts. Every person is given talents in their lives. I don’t know a single individual without SOME form of talent. That talent may be as simple as making people smile by sharing your own smile to playing an instrument better than any other person on earth. Talents come in all shapes and sizes but one thing they have in common is that the one receiving them has control over their use. God gives these as GIFTS.
God also gives Spiritual gifts. These are not free gifts to use or abuse as the receiver decrees. They are earmarked to be used in service to His family. I fully believe that He has EVERY RIGHT to demand a return of these gifts if they are misused. If He doesn’t remove them from the person misusing them you can bank on there being an accounting before Him in the end. I, for one, do NOT want to be on the deficient side of that accounting! I want to hear “Well done good and faithful servant…” not “Depart from me for I never knew you.”
Back to the original point of our text. Sorry for running so far down that trail. I trust the Holy Spirit’s leading in our time together, so maybe that was where we were supposed to go.
God was asking the willing men of Israel to release their futures into His hands. He had something magnificent to give, IF they were willing to trust Him. I like how He lists the materials He wants and several of their final uses BEFORE even laying out His full design. “Spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breast-piece” (verses 6b-7). A tiny taste to get the imagination going.
“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” (verses 8-9).
What God is asking for is DEFINITELY earmarked! He lists His “needs” and provides the pattern. The people will get to know the project they are contributing to before they turn lose. God’s design is going to be AWESOME! Who wouldn’t want in on this project?!
When I was thinking about the people’s work contributions earlier on in my time today I was remembering a special dress I made for my daughter a long time ago. I was thinking about how special it is to me and how I feel every time it is used by someone I love. How I have passed it down through my family. I LOVED seeing it on her daughter. I pray it will pass on to her daughter’s daughter someday.
I was likening my experience to how the people who poured their heart, talents and time into the actual construction of God’s sanctuary must have felt after it was complete. I can see the weavers lovingly running their hands across the design in the fabric created. God gave the pattern but their hands worked the shuttle. “That piece right there was my gift to the Lord.” Generations to come could point back to pieces their parents had made under the instruction of the All Mighty God. The joy that comes with KNOWING that you gave something precious from your own hands to God and it made a difference!
That’s what I pray this is. I pray my writing, sharing my journal and heart, will someday somehow be part of building His Kingdom. That He will take my simple gift and use it in His design. “That ‘word picture’ right there is what helped me KNOW that God loved me and I gave my life into His hands.”
Father God, is that arrogance? I pray not! I had desired to share our time together for quite a while before this opportunity presented itself. I believe it was YOU who brought it to me. I know I don’t have a huge audience/following but that doesn’t matter to me. What I want is to touch someone who is hurting or wondering with Your words of comfort and direction. I KNOW not every piece I post is a “master piece.” What I want instead is to KNOW that these are the “Master’s pieces”, even the ones where I fight to stay on track or even to stay alert because of my body being tired. I trust You with my “talents” and leave them in You hands to do with them as You see fit. Thank You for letting me give to You! I want to be part of Your overall plan and design. I can’t wait to see what You have been working on with EVERYONE’S contributions!