Today we begin Exodus chapter 36.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
In Exodus 36, the theme of Israelite generosity for the construction of the Tabernacle is a resounding reversal of the ill-considered donations that were given for the Golden Calf.
Here we get a great picture of how a spiritually healthy congregation operates when it comes to the giving of one’s time and money.
What’s awesome is that the people gave so much, the gifts were overflowing!
Moses had to command a halt to the giving.
When was the last time you heard your pastor say, “We’ve received more than enough, so you can stop giving now”.
Moses didn’t have an endless list of things to do with the people’s money.
God instructed what needed to get done, the necessary amount of materials and labor was contributed, and that was it.
Nice, sweet, and simple.
There are two important takeaways I glean from these passages.
The first is to realize that although there are all kinds of imaginative things we can do for the Kingdom of God, whether it’s starting bible colleges, building new churches with fabulous sky-high buildings, or establishing soup kitchens to feed the children of the world etcetera, unless it is God-led as opposed to gold-led, it will become just another worldly work of man that will burn up along with all the others.
If it is not God-led, your sincerity, goodwill, and the energy spent will count for absolutely nothing.
So make sure the project has been appointed by the Lord.
The second takeaway I can see here in Exodus is that it is NOT just money but both money AND time that forms your contribution.
Personally, I’ve sometimes fallen prey to the attitude that says if I give enough money I really have don’t have to contribute my time and energy to the work of the congregation.
Having said that, I’m not looking down on those who contribute only money and not time.
If the Lord is calling you to just give cash, then by all means obey Him in that.
The most important thing is to make sure your gifts are GOD APPOINTED.
If not, they won’t be God anointed.
What’s interesting about the Jewish perspective of money is that they see it as FROZEN WORK.
Since it takes time to earn money, when you give money you are essentially giving away a piece of labor that you have already done in the past.
One final point.
Notice it says in Exodus that it is the WILLING and the WISE who will listen to God and do as He commands.
God may appoint you to contribute from time to time.
But one thing He will not do is take your money from you.
Nor will he instruct the congregation authorities to monitor your giving.
And He certainly won’t honor a congregation that cheers on the big givers while making those whose contributions are comparatively meager feel guilty.
Just as we have read here in Exodus, ALL giving today is a free-will contribution.
It is NOT a sacrifice.
And when I say that, speaking within the Torah context of which I am writing, I am saying that our giving is NOT part of the sacrificial system that was established in Moses’ day.
It must be YOUR WILL that does the giving, not the pastor’s or anybody else’s.
Remember, it is the WISE AND DISCERNING man or woman who obeys the Lord when they hear the call for contributions.
We’re going to close Exodus chapter 36 with this post because the rest of the details about the Tabernacle construction are simply a repeat of the instructions already given.
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN EXODUS CHAPTER 37