Book of Exodus Chapter Thirty-Five Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
It's Time To Give
The details of how the tabernacle would be constructed were previously given, but then it was a plan, and now it was to be built. In Verse 1, "Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, 'These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do:'" and note that even as the Lord prepared them for work, He paused and reminded them of the need for rest. In Verses 2-3: "For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3 You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day." The Lord knows our tendency to frantically perform, even in service to Him. Note that Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, often took time for rest and prayer. True rest is even more important than life itself, which was underscored by a threat to their very lives if they did not comply. We need rest—our very lives depend on it.
As you read these verses, note that your tithes, offerings and gifts to the Lord, are meant to be given with a "willing heart" as seen in Verse 5. Even more than "willing," we are to delight in what we give, knowing that all we have comes from the Lord. Paul the Apostle remarked in 2 Corinthians 9:7, "...God loves a cheerful giver." Here in this chapter, in Verses 4-5, Moses began to recite the list of items needed for the Tabernacle of the Lord: "Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, 'This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying, 'Take from among you a contribution to the Lord; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze," and he would continue that list in the next verses. It was the call of God through Moses that prompted these gifts, and we can give to any legitimate need, but there is special joy when the LORD prompts you to give and you do it.
The tabernacle they were about to build was to be a place of great beauty, with blending, primary colors, and a variety of interesting textures and scents, as in Verses 6-8: "and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats’ hair, 7 and rams’ skins dyed red, and porpoise skins, and acacia wood, 8 and oil for lighting, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense." It would be magnificant, lovely to behold, and yet it was only a shadow of the original seen by the Apostle John in Revelation 11:19, when "the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple." The true Temple in heaven, and the Tabernacle here, are not only literal places, but they also are the people of God, as seen in 1 Corinthians 3:16, written to those who have faith in the Lord: "You are the temple of God." Isn't it amazing? In wonderful ways, Israel, the Temple, the Church, always were about faithful human beings. The structures housing them are mere containers for the true temple, people who have faith in the Lord. And notice in the parable of this Tabernacle, how valuable we are to God. As it continues in Verse 9: "and onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece." God intends to adorn and surround His people with great beauty throughout all eternity.
And see in the verses that follow, that the Lord uses only the most "skillful" workmen on our behalf. Here's Verse 10: "Let every skillful man among you come, and make all that the Lord has commanded:" His choices for us are more than just external religious rituals—The Father sent God the Son to live as our Representative, reveal the Father to us, die for our sins, rise from the dead to show that death is not the end, and send the Holy Spirit who makes us "skillful" and shows us how to use the gifts that we are given.
We've already seen the precise measurements of this Tabernacle in Chapters 25, 26 & 27, and now was the moment for it to become a reality. In Verses 11-18, Moses reminds them of what must be done and how to do it: "the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets; 12 the ark and its poles, the mercy seat, and the curtain of the screen; 13 the table and its poles, and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; 14 the lampstand also for the light and its utensils and its lamps and the oil for the light; 15 and the altar of incense and its poles, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the doorway at the entrance of the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin and its stand; 17 the hangings of the court, its pillars and its sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; 18 the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court and their cords." In Verse 19 of this chapter, the people were reminded of the priest's garments, shown in detail in Chapter 28: "The woven garments for ministering in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests." There is a time when the call of God in your life will become a reality, and this was the time for the nation Israel. They had waited many years, which may or may not be true for you, but He who has called will bring it to pass. As Paul would later say in Romans 11:29, "The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." He will do what you no longer think is possible.
Notice that the Lord often takes time to do what must be done. He could have ordered the people to start work immediately, in the middle of the night or whenever, but instead we find a slow build-up to the actual building of the Tabernacle, glimpsed in the people's thoughtful departure in Verse 20: "Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel departed from Moses’ presence." And think about it they did. Notice in Verses 21-24, the WILLING hearts of people who gave as we should: "Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments. 22 Then all whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and bracelets, all articles of gold; so did every man who presented an offering of gold to the Lord. 23 Every man, who had in his possession blue and purple and scarlet material and fine linen and goats’ hair and rams’ skins dyed red and porpoise skins, brought them. 24 Everyone who could make a contribution of silver and bronze brought the Lord’s contribution; and every man who had in his possession acacia wood for any work of the service brought it." For the rest of their lives, and as related to their children for their children's understanding as well, they would recall these gifts and ponder the blessing of giving back to the Lord some of what He has given to us.
And giving is so much more than money. Out lives are full of TIME that we often waste, and skills that we may view as "ours." Verses 25-26 report, "All the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue and purple and scarlet material and in fine linen. 26 All the women whose heart stirred with a skill spun the goats’ hair." A lot of the Book of Exodus is about men, but the efforts of women are honored in the sight of God. As Paul the Apostle would later observe, "There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
Notice again the spirit of generosity in Verses 27-30—we are to give of what we have: "The rulers brought the onyx stones and the stones for setting for the ephod and for the breastpiece; 28 and the spice and the oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. 29 The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the Lord had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the Lord." Every so often, someone who has not previously been a generous person, discovers the joy of giving. Somehow, when you freely give something, the need to get it back diminishes and joy tends to grow. And you oddly don't lose anything by giving. Jesus said, in Luke 6:38, "Give and it will be given to you..." The Lord gives to those who give.
In Verses 30-35, "Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, 'See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 31 And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; 32 to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, 33 and in the cutting of stones for settings and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. 34 He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.'" We saw Bezalel and Oholiab previously in Chapter 31 (why didn't I think of them when I named my children?), as the Lord pointed them out to Moses the prophet, who now, in this chapter, relates the Lord's words to Israel.
Note that you can give in many ways, including money, time, help to the helpless, a kind word, and prayer, especially prayer. If you were asked, "What can you give?" you might have something that comes to mind, or you might think, "Nothing!" but we all receive from the Lord, enabling us to give. If you can't work or talk and have no money, you can pray, and God Himself will answer in ways more profound than anything we could imagine.
Father, I place my faith in the Lord. Forgive me for the many times I have acted selfishly, and please reveal to me the joy of giving. Show me, Holy Spirit, what I am to do and give me a heart that loves to share. In Jesus Name. Amen.