SOAP Journal – 24 January 2017 (Exodus 36:4-7)

And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the LORD commanded [us] to perform.” So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing [any more]. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.

Exodus 36:4-7

A freewill offering was collected and the Israelites were moved to give. And how. Men and women offered up their possessions and labor to bring in the precious metals and weave the cloth and provide the boards and whatnot. The giving of the people was so effusive that this morning’s verses happened.

There was a corps of workers dedicated to putting all the materials into the right shapes and sizes to construct the tabernacle, but this corps cam to Moses with something that was delaying the work: the people had supplied more than enough to get the job done and the people were still bringing more. It is a nice problem to have, but it is still a problem. So Moses tells the people to stop bringing things and making things to build the tabernacle. Once the corps dedicated to building the tabernacle could focus on that task, things moved along nicely.

Back to the problem. The Israelites were bringing too much. This event almost seems foreshadowed in how willing the Israelites were to be parted from their gold back at the incident with the golden calf. In that instance, they wanted a symbol and Aaron told them to fork over their gold so he could make it into something. Now that God Himself has told them what they should be making as a way to commune with Him, they are just as willing to give.

One evangelist is quoted as having said that there are three conversions: the mind, the heart, and the pocketbook. The Israelites’ pocketbooks were well and truly converted.

It bears note that the Israelites were in a place where they really had no need to gold ans silver and so on. They were in a wilderness and their needs were provided by God Himself. They woke up to healthy dessert bread and received water from rocks. Their clothes, I read in later passages, did not wear out. Did they need what they offered? Not really. But it cost them something.

King David will later say that he will not offer the LORD anything that costs him nothing. While the Israelites did not need the resources at that moment, they could have reasonably thought that they would encounter traders at some point and might need something to trade. And, not having mines or mills or farmland or anything else, what they carried was all they had. So these people looked at their finite resources and came to the conclusion that their resources were better given to God for the building of His tabernacle.

Right now, I am wrestling with the idea of resources and giving. God knows the details, but it is a source of some concern for my family and me. We have been faithful to give for some time and have seen God’s faithfulness to provide for us. We have tested Him — as He invited us to — and seen Him throw open the floodgates of Heaven — just as He promised He would.

Father, You know our hearts. You know where we are and how things stand. You know that we want to give; to continue to put You to the test and see the floodgates of Heaven opened; to bring too much for the work. There is always more work. There is always a need. Please guide us; instruct us in what You would have us do. It may be that You want things to be on hold for a time while You do some work or it may be that You want us to stay the course and trust You to work it all to good. I just do not know. Please show me. And thank You for the opportunity to give; to be a part of Your work in any way.

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