Now that the Lord was reconciled with His repentant people, work began on the Tabernacle project – which would have started after Moses had come down from Sinai the first time, if the incident of the golden calf had not put everything out of order. Here Moses begins by reminding the people of the Lord’s commandment regarding the observance of the Sabbath. This day was to be kept holy unto the Lord by refraining from labor, even during the holy and important work of building the Tabernacle. The mild and easy yoke of Jesus makes our Lord’s Day duties delightful indeed, and this makes us even more guilty when we neglect them. Surely it is a sin to disregard God’s wisdom and mercy in giving us one day in seven to rest! Let us pray for grace that we may not count it a light thing to pour contempt upon the blessed Day which our bounteous God has given us for our growth in grace with the Church below, as well as for our preparation for happiness with the Church above.
The Tabernacle was to be dedicated to the honor and worship of God; therefore, the things that were brought for it were an offering to the Lord. We can imagine how thankful the children of Israel would be that they were allowed to bring an offering to their God! It was a proof to them that He had forgiven their sin, and that He had taken them again for His own people. And as they stood in the presence of Moses, their mediator – listening to his words; and seeing the glory beaming from his face, although it was veiled – surely their hearts glowed, and their eyes sparkled with joy, and their only thought was how they could ever bring enough of the very best of their possessions to show their gratitude!
The people did bring a willing offering for this project out of all the good things that the Lord had so bountifully bestowed upon them; for we will recall that He did not let His people leave Egypt like a set of runaway slaves, with nothing except the clothes on their backs. He inclined their oppressors to load them with riches of silver, gold, jewels, and everything that their hearts desired; and so they were amply provided with whatever was needed for the work of building the Tabernacle. And best of all, they had grateful hearts and open hands, and the Lord accepted the willing gifts of His people! Without a willing mind, their costly offerings would have been abhorred; but with it, even the smalllest was accepted. Our hearts are “willing” when we cheerfully assist in promoting the cause of Christ by doing the work that He has given us to do. Those who are diligent and contented in employments that worldly people consider lowly are just as much accepted by God as those who are engaged in what we would call “splendid services.” Even the gifts of the Hebrew women who spun humble goats’ hair were accepted, because they made them wholeheartedly for the Lord. In this way, the humblest laborer, mother, servant, or student who attends to their work in the faith and fear of God is just as useful as the most zealous Gospel-minister; and the Lord will receive their efforts with equal pleasure. Our wisdom and duty consist in giving God the glory and use of our talents, whether they are many or few. God dispenses His gifts as He pleases, and we must faithfully and diligently use whatever gift He has given us (1 Pet. 4:10). Those persons among the Israelites who had an abundance of riches were to bring in materials to work with, and those who were skillful were to assist in the Tabernacle project by contributing their labor. Each needed the other, and the Lord’s work needed them both (1 Cor. 12:7-21).
At the end of this chapter, we see the Divine appointment of the two master-workmen who were to supervise this project. Thus there would be no strife for the honored office; and also, all who were employed in the work would know to take directions from these two men, and to give an account of their work to them. God called Bezaleel and Aholiab by name to His service, and He filled them with His Spirit. Skill – even in worldly employments – is the Lord’s good gift from above.
Notice how Bezaleel and Aholiab were to labor in this work themselves, in addition to supervising others. Many persons are quite ready to cut out work for other people, and to tell what this man or that woman should do; but the burdens that they lay upon others, they themselves will not touch with one of their fingers. Such persons fall under the character of slothful servants; but Bezaleel and Aholiab were not of this kind, for they themselves labored in the work. And they were also to teach others. Those who are in positions of authority ought to instruct others, and those to whom God has given knowledge should be willing to make it known for the benefit of others.
Lord God, we pray that You would incline our hearts to Your service. Give us grace to consecrate all our time, our gifts, and our life to You; for in the dedication of them, it is only returning to You those things which are Your own. Accept them, dear Lord, in Christ Jesus; and pardon the unworthiness of both the gift and the giver.
Dearest Jesus! Help us to remember that You are the true Tabernacle of Your people. Upon the foundation of the Father’s everlasting love, Your salvation is built for us: and in Your righteousness and blood, the spiritual Temple rests forever. Praises be to Your name! Amen.
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