Read Exodus 35
1 Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the Lord has commandedyou to do: 2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. 3 Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”
Materials for the Tabernacle
4 Moses said to the whole Israelite community, “This is what the Lord has commanded: 5 From what you have, take an offering for the Lord. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the Lord an offering of gold, silver and bronze; 6 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 7 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather[a]; acacia wood; 8 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 9 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.
10 “All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded: 11 the tabernacle with its tent and its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; 12 the ark with its poles and the atonement cover and the curtain that shields it; 13 the table with its poles and all its articles and the bread of the Presence; 14 the lampstand that is for light with its accessories, lamps and oil for the light;15 the altar of incense with its poles, the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; the curtain for the doorway at the entrance to the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the bronze basin with its stand; 17 the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; 18 the tent pegs for the tabernacle and for the courtyard, and their ropes; 19 the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary—both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests.”
20 Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, 21 and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. 22 All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord. 23 Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or the other durable leather brought them. 24 Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the Lord, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. 25 Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. 26 And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. 27 The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. 28 They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.
Bezalel and Oholiab
30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.
In Exodus 35, Moses is still receiving instructions from the Lord concerning the tabernacle and its furnishings. In verse 5, Moses comes to the people of Israel and proclaims “Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution.” (ESV) God could have easily erected the tabernacle himself, but instead He chose His people to participate in the work! Moses lays out not only items that are needed (gold, silver, bronze, yarns, goatskins, oil, etc.) but he also specifies skills that are needed (construction of hooks and frames, a veil, fragrant incense, and more!).
After Moses lists out all the items the Lord has commanded are needed, the Israelites depart from the presence of Moses and start to take action. Verse 21 opens with “And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used…” God initiated and His people responded. They proceeded to bring costly items like brooches, earrings, and signet rings. They brought fine linens and precious animal skins and specific types of wood. Skilled craftsmen volunteered their talents to be used to as contributions to the tabernacle and they did it all with a willing heart.
It’s easy for us to try and have too tight of a grip on what we think is ours. Our perspective changes when we realise that everything is God’s already and these opportunities are moments of worship for us. Verse 29 says that the people brought all these things as a “freewill offering to the Lord.” It was not out of obligation or something to gain, it was out of a response to the stirrings of their hearts. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.”
The Israelites not only willingly and voluntarily brought their offerings to the Lord, but they did it cheerfully. By responding to the stirrings of their hearts to bring the best of their possessions and the best of their skill sets, they were giving glory to God for not only all that he had already done for them, but what He would continue to do. God deserves the best that can be found in creation. May we be so in tune with His word and His spirit that we will notice and obey when His spirit leads us to give cheerfully!
- Think about the descriptions that were given to the people who brought the materials: a willing and stirred heart. What words would you use to describe the state of your own heart?
- The Israelites brought offers of tangible items including gold, silver, bronze, and fine linens, but they also brought skill, intelligence, knowledge and craftsmanship. What are some things you think you have that you could offer to the Lord?
- How has God recently stirred your heart and what was your response to it?
Did You Know?
The word “willing” (or “willingness”) to describe the hearts of the people who contributed appears five times in Exodus 35 (and again in Exodus 36:2). Repetition in scripture shows us when a point is trying to be made, so it’s important for us to understand how important it was to God that their hearts were in the right place.