Exodus 35:4-29 God’s glory is manifested by a people who give and serve out of truth and grace
Exodus 35:4-29 God’s glory is manifested by a people who give and serve out of truth and grace.
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 blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats’ hair, and rams’ skins dyed red, and porpoise skins, and acacia wood, and oil for lighting, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece.
‘Let every skillful man among you come, and make all that the LORD has commanded: the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets; the ark and its poles, the mercy seat, and the curtain of the screen; the table and its poles, and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; the lampstand also for the light and its utensils and its lamps and the oil for the light; 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; the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin and its stand; the hangings of the court, its pillars and its sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court and their cords; 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.’”
Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel departed from Moses’ presence. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. All the women whose heart stirred with a skill spun the goats’ hair. The rulers brought the onyx stones and the stones for setting for the ephod and for the breastpiece; and the spice and the oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. 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.
Moses gave instructions as to how the building of the tabernacle could be realised. The tabernacle functioned as God’s abode, where He dwelled among the people. It was here, that God and the people commune and become one. For this reason, the tabernacle must be adorned with precious materials and with all kinds of intricate craftsmanship, a fitting place for God’s dwelling. That said, what is most appealing to God is not the precious materials and superb craftsmanship, but the heart of truth and grace. In a fuller sense, the tabernacle is the body of believers with Christ as the head. Here, the glory of the tabernacle is no longer manifested by the physical building of the church, but by believers’ life of truth towards God and grace towards one another. Today’s devotion teaches us: God’s glory is manifested by a people who give and serve out of truth and grace.
“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…’”
The precious materials required for the tabernacle would come from the contributions of the people. Notice how the materials ought to be gathered: ‘whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the LORD’S contribution.’ Here, the people were encouraged to give out of grace, not out of compulsion. To be gracious is to do something out of goodwill, not because the law demands of it. Indeed, God did compel Moses and the people by law to establish the tabernacle, the sacrificial system and priesthood. However, pertaining to the glory of the tabernacle, He made no such demand. Only when one’s heart stirred him and his spirit moved him should one contribute to the work.
‘Let every skilful man among you come, and make all that the LORD has commanded: the tabernacle, its tent and its covering…’
After the precious metals and materials were gathered, skilled craftsmen were deployed to assemble the materials together. Contributions in the form of time and craftsmanship were highly valued in the eyes of God. And they played a major part in fashioning the tabernacle into its full glory. Whether it was the contribution of craftsmanship or precious material, the people offered freely and willingly asking for nothing in return. It was based on the goodwill of the people that the glory of God was manifested through the tabernacle.
God’s glory is manifested by a people who give and serve out of truth and grace.
The opulence of a church building, the riches of its treasury, the high stature of its membership have no bearing on the measure of its glory. But a people of humble estate, whose hearts are filled with truth and grace to give and care for others will possess auras that are visible even from heaven.
God established Israel’s constitution, the tabernacle, the sacrificial system and priesthood through the law. Even as these serve as foundations, they do not bring glory to God. That is the reason why after the law was given, God did not compel the people to give, but only when their hearts were moved by truth and grace. John 1:14 speaks of the glory of the Son as full of grace and truth. On the other hand, the law offer no such glory. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
Speaking of lawfulness, some churches are hung up on having the right doctrine, thinking that will truly honour God. Some are busy organising outreach programmes, thinking that will glorify Him. Some are fixated on a form of worship and liturgy supposing that will please God the most. Yet some are so burdened by the church’s fund raising programmes, they became lonely and bitter. Even though these things are important for the proper functioning of the church, they do not manifest the glory of God.
The greatest glory in the history of the world is when Jesus willingly gave up His right to save Himself. Even though it is lawful for Jesus to live and execute judgment on His tormentors, He remained on the cross and forgave them. Jesus’s sacrificial giving glorified God and moved Him to cancel the debt of sin that was hostile to us (Colossians 2:14). When we exercise truth and grace by giving and serving one another, God is glorified in our midst.
What are the traits of a glorious church?
The glory of God in the Old Testament church was manifested by the beauty and opulence of the physical tabernacle. The glory of God in the New Testament church was manifested by a people who is full of truth and grace. Here are some of the traits:
- A lawful church compels people to conform to its standards by according and withholding acceptance. A glorious church accepts all by enlightening and healing people so that they may be freed to follow the Spirit’s leading.
- A lawful church honours those who possess much knowledge and who are rich and capable. A glorious church respects all while according special honour to those who serve sacrificially asking for nothing in return.
- A lawful church tends to believe and invest in those who show immediate potential to serve their causes. A glorious church believes and invests in all who are willing to follow Christ’s way of life.
Ask yourself this question: Am I a lawful person or a glorious person? Why?
Dear Lord, I thank you for being so patient and merciful towards me. Forgive me for judging others. Give me a heart of truth and grace so that I may glorify you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.