Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord's contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats' hair, tanned rams' skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. Exodus 35:5-9
The Lord’s instructions to Moses. It was time to build the Tabernacle, the place of God’s dwelling. It was to be elaborately beautiful, extravagant even. Of the finest materials. Explicit and intricate design details. Every element representing aspects of God’s character and His relationship with His people. A place that honored God above all else.
It was time to build and God told Moses to invite the people to participate in the process. He called upon them, as moved by the willingness of their hearts, to contribute. To bring the best of their possessions - gold, silver, bronze. The finest of fabrics and building materials. Beautiful jewels, oils and fragrances.
What a beautiful scene! God’s people responding to His call, building Him such a magnificent tabernacle. A place of worship. Beautiful.
But think for a moment. What is the context for God’s call? Where were the people when He told them to build this? Not in Jerusalem, residing comfortably, working hard at their jobs, making a living, enjoying life.
They were in the wilderness! They were on the move, no means for providing for their families, much less contributing to a magnificent building. Plus, they had just left Egypt on the run, from their lives as slaves! They were not affluent nobility, relocating from one kingdom to another. They were slaves who owned nothing!
So why in the world would God ask of them such expensive gifts? Where in the world could they obtain them? They were in the desert wilderness, remember!
Well, guess what. God knew what He was doing. Imagine that :)
Go back to chapter 3 in this same book and see what God did….
Long before He freed them from slavery, He told Moses what to do. He told him that it would be difficult to get Pharaoh to release them but that God would intervene. And He promised in Exodus 3:21,22:
And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”
When the time of deliverance came, God reminded them to make these requests (Exodus 11:2,3) and sure enough, God was faithful and the people obeyed. Exodus 12:35,36 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.
So, in the middle of nowhere, with no means of financial support, these slaves were able to construct an edifice that, in today’s dollars, would be valued at approximately $ 57-62 million. Yep, That is $62,000,000.
All because God provided. For what He called them to do, He luxuriously provided.
Such a glorious truth and a beautiful story. Evokes in us wonder and praise and thanksgiving.
But what else would God say to us through this Old Testament account? He exhorts us in Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.
So there is a treasure trove of truth to glean from this historical record in Scripture. I am sure I don’t even know a fraction of it. But two things stand out to me as I ponder His Word. Two things that we can tuck into our hearts and draw from. Two things to share with you, my friends.
One, God will provide. For whatever He has called you to do, God will provide. Whether it’s to carry His truth to an unreached group or to live on one income or to finish that degree. God will provide. Often from unlikely channels, but ultimately He is the source.
And, two, when God provides for us, He intends us to give it back to Him. For however He chooses to use it. He owns it all, He controls it all, and He wants to direct it all. Through us. Our gifts from Him -whether financial or physical or mental or relational - are to be returned to Him for His use in carrying out His work for His glory. We can enjoy the gifts but we must understand they are for His glory.
I don’t know what God has called you to, my friend, but it’s likely that His call comes while you are in the desert wilderness, with no visible means of accomplishing what He is calling you to do. No worries. Just rest in the fact that He will plunder the Egyptians for you!