PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 25:1-9; 35:4-36:7 – The Gift of Giving

2/26 Exodus 25:1-9 The Gift of Giving (Ex.35:4-36:7)

God has rescued his people. He has saved them by a mighty demonstration of his power. He has redeemed them. He has brought them to himself. He has instructed and taught them what it means to be in a relationship with him. God now gives them the gift of his presence. God will take up residence and dwell among his people. God here instructs his people to build the tabernacle, a sanctuary, a holy place, not because he needs a home, but so that they will understand what it means to have a holy God living among them, and so that they will know that he indeed is dwelling with them. If I were to ask you what the book of Exodus is about, what would you say? I would expect to hear things like ‘God rescuing his people from Egypt’ or ‘the ten plagues’ or ‘the ten commandments’; but if we look at what is most important based simply on what gets the most pages of text devoted to it, we would have to say that Exodus is about the tabernacle; about God dwelling with his people. In the next seven chapters, we have detailed instructions as to how this structure is to be constructed. Then we have two chapters narrating how the Israelites made up their own way to worship and in the process violated their covenant with God. God mercifully forgives their transgression and renews his covenant with them, and the rest of the book details how they faithfully constructed the tabernacle according to the divine specifications. The book concludes with God’s awesome presence coming to dwell with his people. So Exodus is about salvation and rescue and deliverance, and Exodus is about the giving of God’s law, but a major focus of Exodus is God’s gracious presence with his people. God’s stated purpose for the Exodus was ‘that they may serve me’ or ‘worship me’ (Ex.4:23; 7:16; 8:1,20; 9:1,13; 10:3). So we have come to the focal point of the book.

Exodus 25:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “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. 3 And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, 5 tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, 6 oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7 onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

This section (25-31) starts with the invitation to give to supply the materials for the construction, and then moves through the construction from the most important things that are closest to God’s presence and works its way outward away from the presence of God. The section that records the actual building of the tabernacle (35-40) also starts with the collection of the materials, but then proceeds in the sequence of actual construction. This is God’s invitation to give.

Notice a few things about this invitation to give. First it is entirely voluntary. There are other places where giving is commanded, like the tenth that goes to support those who labor in service to the Lord (Num.18:24), but here all are given the opportunity to contribute, but it is to be purely voluntary. ‘From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me’. If your heart doesn’t move you to give, then don’t give. When Paul was talking about collecting a special offering to help the destitute saints in Jerusalem, he said:

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Paul highlights the abundant generosity of those in Macedonia:

2 Corinthians 8:1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints– 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

“Begging earnestly for the favor of taking part” in this offering!

Flip over to Exodus 35 and we’ll see how the people responded to God’s invitation to give:

Exodus 35:4 Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. 5 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; 6 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats’ hair, 7 tanned rams’ skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, 8 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 9 and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. …

20 Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 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. 22 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. 23 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. 24 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. 25 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. 26 All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27 And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28 and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29 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.

…36:3 And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, 4 so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, 5 and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.” 6 So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.

We see such an overwhelming response of eager participation that Moses had to restrain the people from giving by a command, because they brought too much. “Whoever is of a generous heart; everyone whose heart stirred him, everyone whose spirit moved him; all who were of a willing heart; all the women whose heart stirred them to use their skill; all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring anything brought it as a freewill offering; they still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning; the people bring much more than enough!”

So this offering was to be voluntary and joyfully given. We also see that this offering was specific. God stated exactly what was to be given. Not your worn-out couch and your jeans that don’t fit, not the winter boots you never wear and that big old television that you replaced with the latest technology wide-screen. God specified exactly what was needed, and it was to be the very best. Gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, the finest dyed fabrics and skins, oils and wood products. The people were to worship God in the way he specified, not in whatever way they chose.

So the offering was to be joyful and voluntary, it was to be only what God specified, and it was given to God. God told Moses ‘you shall receive a contribution for me‘. Moses was to facilitate the giving, the materials went to God’s appointed Spirit-filled craftsmen to do the actual building, but the giving was giving to God. God was the one who asked, and God was the one who ultimately received the offering.

But let’s remember, lest we have the attitude when we give that we are helping God out and meeting some deficiency in him, Paul reminds us in Romans:

Romans 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

And James reminds us:

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

So anything we give belonged to God already, he entrusted it to us to use as wise stewards of his resources, and we are simply returning a portion of it at his request. Jesus told a parable about the wicked tenants of his vineyard who acted as if what they were entrusted with belonged to him (Mt.21; Mk.12; Lk.20). It didn’t end so well for them. Here in Exodus, we could ask, where did the people get all this stuff that they donated? After all, they fled as fugitive slaves from Egypt. Remember back in chapter 3, God said:

Exodus 3:21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

And we see this fulfilled in Exodus 12:

Exodus 12:35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Now God is asking for a portion of what he had given them to be freely and voluntarily given back to him.

To Dwell In Their Midst

Let’s look again at the purpose for all this giving.

Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

God’s intention was to create a holy space in which he would bless the people with the gift of his presence. That is why precision had to be taken in following his instructions. This, remember, is to be a replica of the heavenly presence of God, literally a piece of heaven on earth. Soldiers on the move would camp around the tent of their king. God himself is coming as King to pitch his tent in the middle of his people. The Commander of his army comes to sit enthroned in the center of the war-camp of Israel. The purpose of the tabernacle was the presence of God with his people. This points us to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, quoted in the gospel according to Matthew:

Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

The tabernacle was a picture of God dwelling with his people that finds its fulfillment in Jesus. This portable sanctuary was replaced in the time of Solomon by a more permanent structure, the temple. Jesus said:

Matthew 12:6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.

Something greater than the temple! What was Jesus claiming? In the beginning of the gospel of John, we are told of Jesus:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This word ‘dwelt’ is directly connected back to the tabernacle. We could translate it ‘the Word became flesh and pitched his tent, or tabernacled among us. In John 2, when questioned about proof of his authority for cleansing the temple:

John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” …21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Jesus referred to his human body as a temple. He became flesh and tabernacled among us. Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. Something greater than the temple is here! This is indeed good news.

But it doesn’t stop here! Biblically, we can take this concept of God dwelling with his people one step further. Jesus said

John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, … for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Then Jesus says:

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Paul pointed us in Colossians1:27 to “the hope of glory, which is Christ in you.” He tells us in Ephesians 3:17 “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Jesus went on to say:

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, taking up residence in you! Paul in Ephesians 2 describes the the people who make up Christ’s church as:

Ephesians 2:19 …fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 describes himself as a skilled master builder laying the one foundation – and that one foundation is Jesus Christ. He warns us not to lay any other foundation, and he warns us to take care how we build on that foundation. He goes on to say:

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you [corporately] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

You, the people in whom God resides, you all, who as a group make up the church, are God’s temple. In 1 Corinthians 6, he applies this to the individual believer who is tempted with sexual immorality. He says:

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body [individually] is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

In 2 Corinthians 6, arguing for purity and separation from partnership with that which is not of God, he says:

2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

We are the temple of the living God. God has made his dwelling in us, the church, in us, believers.

Contributions for the New Covenant Temple

Now let’s bring this back around to the invitation to contribute, and ask, in light of the temple now being us, those in whom God dwells, in what way can we contribute to the construction efforts today. How can we contribute to the building of God’s church today? And when you hear the word ‘church’, please try to retrain yourself to think, not of a building, but of people. God’s church is made up of people. How can we be a part of building a dwelling place for God in the hearts of people of every tribe and tongue and nation (Rev.5:9)?

First, as Jesus commissioned us, we can go:

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

And second, we can send. Paul points us to the good news for every nation:

Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. …13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And then he asks the question:

Romans 10:14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

May our giving and our going be glad, voluntary, joyful, eager participation in the privilege of giving and of serving. In our giving and our serving, may it be to God and not to man. May our giving be a giving back to God out of the abundance of grace that has been poured into our hearts. And may we savor the awesome presence of God, Father, Son and Spirit, who makes his home in us today. 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

February 26, 2012 - Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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