Now King Solomon levied forced laborers from all Israel; and the forced laborers numbered 30,000 men.
1 Kings 5:13
I found myself mentally comparing notes about how the tabernacle was built and how the temple was built. When the description of the temple build starts with King Solomon conscripting 30,000 men into service, it sounds very different. But then it occurred to me that God gave the men who made the various bits and bobs needed for the tabernacle both the ability and the desire to do it and it made me smile a bit at the difference between God’s conscription and man’s.
In addition, I found myself thinking that Solomon was making good on the prophecies made when the Israelites demanded a king and rejected having God as their King (1 Samuel 8:10-18). He takes from the people for the goals that he has in mind. Compare that to when the tabernacle was built and God stirred the hearts of the people and everyone gave freely. No conscription. No taxes. Just the people bringing offerings of time and resource.
The two events feel like a case study in the differences between how God does things and how Human Rulers do things. God invites me to be a part of what He is doing. Human Rulers compel me to participate. God allows me to bring Him resources that He, quite frankly, has no need of. Human Rulers take my resources because they have none of their own to use. God does what is needful — a place to meet with Him. Human Rulers do what they think is appropriate — an ostentatious edifice that does not conform to the dimensions of the tabernacle.
How does this apply to me? I find the apostles’ words in my mind: We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). This is not to say that I should stop paying taxes or anything like that, but rather that I should obey God’s direction when it comes to things like building projects. If God invites me to give and I have the means, then I should give as the Israelites gave to the tabernacle in the wilderness. I should, by no means, feel compelled to give to God’s work. Giving to God’s work is always by invitation.
Father, thank You for this comparison and this reminder that You invite Your children to be a part of Your work. Thank You that it is an invitation. And thank You for being at work in us both to will and to do of Your good pleasure.