Scripture: 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. Exodus 35:21 ESV
Observation: With the renewal of the covenant, Moses again assembles the congregation to reiterate Sabbath regulations and the needs of tabernacle construction: materials and labor (25:1-30:10 and here 35:1-29). Wisely, Moses does not mandate nor beg for donations or help but appeals to those whose “hearts’ are stirred,” whose “spirits’ are moved” to respond to the call. The author then repeats for emphasis that all the men and women, including leaders, “whose heart moved them,” generously donated their time and treasures as a freewill offering (35:29).
So how did Israel obtain the materials (cloth, jewelry, precious metals, oil, and wood)? As mentioned in a prior Daily Focus, Yahweh assured Moses at the burning bush that he would grant favor to his people in providing plunder obtained from the Egyptians, who would be motivated by the distress of the plagues (3:20-22).
Takeaway: Understanding the origin of Israel’s resources, there are a couple of takeaways from this passage. First, ironically, the Egyptians acquired these valuables by profiting from Israel’s free slave labor. And they likely wore their extravagant clothing and jewelry during pagan worship. Now repurposed, the loot will adorn the tabernacle and priestly garbs in a twist of fate. Indeed, this redistribution of ungodly gain of wealth toward those in need is a theme carried throughout Scripture, a storyline that reminds us that our God is merciful and just.
Secondly, whether or not Israel made the connection, the author’s reading audience would realize that their “freewill” offerings came from spoils orchestrated by God’s “sovereign will.” What they may have deemed as their possessions always belonged to God. So not only is Yahweh merciful and just but extravagantly generous—which points us to his ultimate act of justice, mercy, and generosity: the gift of his Son.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you are just, merciful, and extravagantly generous as ultimately revealed in the gift of your Son. So would you please stir in our hearts to generously give of our time, talents, and treasures to grow your kingdom and glorify your name with the understanding that we are only returning what is rightfully yours? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling