The time had now arrived for the actual Tabernacle construction to begin.
In verse 4, Moses calls out to the people for contributions of labor and materials.
When reading through this chapter, there is one major theme that stands out and is continually hammered home.
It is that only those whose hearts are led to do so should contribute and/or volunteer their labor.
Check out all of these verses that keep stressing this point.
“Take up a collection for Adonai from among yourselves — anyone whose heart makes him willing is to bring the offering for Adonai.”–Exodus 35:5
“and they came, everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit made him willing, and brought Adonai’s offering for the work on the tent of meeting.”-Exodus 35:21
“Both men and women came, as many as had willing hearts; they brought nose-rings, earrings, signet-rings, belts, all kinds of gold jewelry”-Exodus 35:22
“Likewise the women whose heart stirred them to use their skill spun the goat’s hair.”-Exodus 35:26
“Thus every man and woman of the people of Isra’el whose heart impelled him to contribute to any of the work Adonai had ordered through Moshe brought it to Adonai as a voluntary offering”-Exodus 35:29
The Lord is really stressing that only those who are WILLING and who WANT to should contribute and participate.
I don’t see any guilt trips being laid on anybody here.
Nor do I see any insinuations that this is how you SHOULD feel.
I hate it when people say “this is how you SHOULD feel” about the matter.
“You SHOULD want to volunteer or contribute or give money or attend this fellowship event blah, blah, blah”.
I really detest that line of reasoning.
To me, that’s like saying “You should think this joke is funny and laugh”.
Get outta my face!
My feelings are my feelings and if the reality is that I don’t find your jokes funny, then why should I pretend otherwise?
To be so superficial would be the equivalent of lying as far as I’m concerned.
I believe the Lord wants an intimate relationship with us based on truth and raw honesty.
He can see into hearts anyway, so why try and put on a false face?
I’ve seen so many people volunteer for practically every church activity and fellowship event under the sun not because they wanted to (I spoke with them, so I know their real feelings) but out of some misplaced, guilt-induced sense of obligation.
I don’t think this is healthy and what invariably ends up happening is that the inner resentment eventually builds up to the point where those people just up and leave.
The sad thing is I believe this could have been avoided if the people had started on an honest footing with the Lord in the first place.
If your heart is willing to contribute, then contribute.
If you’re heart is not willing, then don’t.
And who cares if the guy sitting next to you seems to be volunteering and contributing left and right with a zeal that would put Mother Theresa to shame.
Heck, that’s probably what the Lord has put on His heart to do.
The Lord may have different plans for you, so don’t compare yourself to others.
Now notice that verse 22 makes it clear the women were to be included in the Tabernacle activities.
According to Robert Alter’s Torah commentary, the Hebrew construction, HA’ANASHIM ‘AL HANASHIM is unusual.
It would appear to suggest that the women queued up first to offer their donations.
The point is although we are dealing with a very patriarchal society, the men did not just sit and order the women around.
The men worked side by side with the women on the tabernacle, each taking on tasks that were suitable for them.
One final point I wanted to make is that the zeal the people are showing here for the Tabernacle construction contrasts interestingly with the zeal the people had for building the blasphemous golden calf.
One was zeal for the works of satan and the other zeal for the works of the Lord.
Which works do you have a zeal for?
In the Golden Calf episode, the people were quick to offer their golden rings for the fashioning of a blasphemous idol.
Now they outdo themselves in donations for the Lord’s sanctuary.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Each of you should give
what you have decided in your heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.”
-2 Corinthians 9:7