A Willing Offering (Exodus 25:1-2; 35:5, 20-22)
When God required Moses to make the tabernacle and its furnishings, it would require a massive offering from the people of Israel. This was not a forced offering, like taxation, but a freewill offering. Exodus 25:1-2 says, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering” (cp. 35:5; NKJV).
Now, consider the people of Israel at the time of this request. After centuries as Egyptian slaves, they are now homeless rich people. They are homeless because they are still wandering in the wilderness after crossing the Red Sea. Yet, they are rich because after the 10th plague the Egyptians were willing to give them “articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing” just to be rid of them (see Exodus 12:35-36). After such a windfall of material gain, and being newly enriched, would the people of Israel be willing to part with their riches or would they hold on to them?
Of course, they had good reason to give back to the Lord who was asking for the offering. This was the Lord who proved His power through the miracles of Moses (Exodus 7:8-13). This was the Lord who punished Egypt’s rebellion with the ten plagues (Exodus 7-12). This was the Lord who guided God’s people out of Egypt with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). This was the Lord who miraculously parted the Red Sea at His command and splashed down the walls of water upon the Egyptian armies at a subsequent command (Exodus 14-15). This was the Lord who fed the people with quail and manna to sustain them in the wilderness (Exodus 16). This was the Lord who shook Mt. Sinai as His law was revealed (Exodus 19). When God is requesting an offering, and you have personally witnessed His power to save, destroy, and protect, then it is wise to willingly submit to His request and bring the offering to God!
Indeed, this is exactly what the people of Israel did. Exodus 35 speaks of the various items involved in the offering for the tabernacle (it was far more than just money). Specifically, verses 21-22 say, “... Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.” Even more impressive than the action is the attitude of the people as they bring the offering with stirred hearts and willing spirits!
Now, what does this have to do with Christians living under the new covenant of Jesus Christ today? What can we learn from this Old Testament example?
The book of Hebrews tells us we serve a risen Savior who “has obtained a more excellent ministry” built on “a better covenant” and “established on better promises” than that of Moses (Hebrews 8:1-4). If Israel was more than willing to support the ministry of the inferior Moses, how much more should we support the work of our eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, who now reigns from the heavens? May we, like Israel, have hearts that are stirred and spirits that are willing to bring the Lord’s offering so His work might be accomplished.