God was Israel’s Prophet, Priest, and King. As their King he ruled. As their Prophet, he delivered truth, and as their Priest he guided them into reconciliation with him and fantastic worship. Following Israel’s salvation from Egypt, God …
- Called Israel to worship
- Showed up with a more intimate manifestation of glory
- Focused his people’s attention on his words, commands, and laws
- Encouraged them to recognize and humbly confess their sin
- Taught them his Gospel by means of bloody sacrifices and water rites
- Heard their new longings and pledges to walk as disciples
- Partook with them in a sacred meal
- Presented to them his plans for his tabernacle for them to use in worship
- Gave instructions for a freewill offering
Exodus 25:1-7 The LORD said to Moses,”Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. (Exodus 25;1-7)
And that which God commanded, that he graciously performed. Consider how God went to work self-funding his own worship.
First, even before their salvation from Pharaoh, God gave them wealth by means of his Egyptian enemies.
The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:35-36)
Second, God stirred and moved their hearts. Israel did not respond to the “offering call” as one would to a governmental tax or legalistic tithe. They gave willingly, happily, lavishly, and differently. Richly they gave of their material wealth and immaterial skills, and this was because they were God-moved and God-stirred.
Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, 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. And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord. (Exodus 35:20-29)
Third, God caused them to be so generous that he commanded Moses to command them to cease giving. So fun was giving, that God had to tell them to stop, and in doing so, God more than adequately provided for his people’s worship needs.
And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work. And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lordhas commanded us to do.” So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more. (Exodus 36:2-7)
Fourth, God graciously blessed his friends by moving in with his sacred presence. Isn’t this fantastic, that which money could never buy, God gave them freely. God out-gave them.
So Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. Exodus 40:35b-38
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is our story and opportunity. In the New Covenant of grace, God has …
- Saved us
- Called us to worship
- Shown us his glory
- Focused our attention on his words, commands, and laws
- Encouraged us to recognize and humbly confess our sins
- Taught us his Gospel — not by means of bloody sacrifice and water — but by the works and words of Jesus Christ and his Apostles and his sacraments
- Heard our new sanctified longings and pledges to walk in obedience
- Partaken with us many times in his sacred meal
- Described the tabernacle he is building within us
- Called us to give freewill offerings as living sacrifices
And now, regularly he …
- Enriches us with material wealth and non-material gifts and skills
- Motivates us from within to be radically sacrificial
- Reminds us that he always has all he needs for his worship
- Graciously blesses us every day with his intimate presence
Therefore friends with stirred hearts, let’s be happy, willing, and lavish givers of what God has given to us. Let’s use our relationships, finances, spiritual gifts, skills, seats of power, time, and energy to be his temple and encourage his worship. This is far more than merely writing a tithe-check on a Sunday morning. No, with all that we are and all that we have, let us be radically ambitious to help ourselves, our children, and our neighbors worship.