From Gold to Goat Skins

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY….. “Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord‘s contribution…. 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. 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.” Exodus 35:5,21-22 ESV

My casual and quick read of the process of gathering the items for the building of the Tabernacle, found me pausing and reflecting on what was happening. There are some key observations and lessons that we see reinforced in the New Testament about stewardship and partnership.

The Sunday School song of generations past came to my mind. “When we all pull together….how happy we’ll be…for your work is my work and our work is God’s work….” What we do and the attitude in which we do it can make all the difference. It is not everyone doing the same thing. The beauty is seen in everyone having a part, valuing the contribution of others and together understanding that in it all, they are doing “God’s work.”

The first thing we can observe is that this was a voluntary effort of money, items and work. This was not the tithe or the “temple tax” that became an obligation in years to come. Moses’ command is “whoever is of a generous heart…”  God’s kingdom values generosity and an “open hand” opposed to hording and accumulation and a “tight fist.”

I notice Moses says, “whose heart moves you….” This was not an appeal to the mind. It wasn’t, “whoever believes this makes sense and can rationalize their contribution.” As a result those who gave were those whose “hearts were stirred and were of a willing heart.” Everyone may not have participated. But God will use those who are willing to meet a need.

We see Paul’s instructions in 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 NIV)

Then I see that the gifts varied. Some brought gold and precious stones, others brought “…fine twined linen; goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, oil for the light…” (Exodus 35:6-8 ESV) The values varied, but all gifts were valued and needed.

There was broad participation, “So they came, both men and women.” (Exodus 35:22 ESV) In a time when women were not viewed as valuable as men, we see that both men and women responded and their respective contributions were equally important.

This project of “working together” required each to do what they could. The call included, “Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded…” (Exodus 35:10 ESV) The materials were needed and the skilled workers were needed to take the materials and turn them into the place of worship and sacrifice to the Lord in the wilderness.

Finally, there is great detail provided how the craftsmen were gifted by the Lord and they followed the Lord’s instructions accurately and completely. After all, it was the “Lord’s House, the Lord’s work.”

The keys we see in this passage are important for undertakings today. God’s Spirit is what moves the hearts of people. Each person can have a part. Each contribution or level of participation is important. Doing God’s work, God’s way is what brings His presence and His glory.

Prayer for today…. Lord the lessons can be so simple, yet so complex. When self is removed and we work together to accomplish Your purposes, needs are met and miracles take place. Help us to pay attention to and learn the lessons that we see in the Bible and apply them to our lives. Help us to obey Your voice and all pull together in the work You have for us.