Building the Tabernacle, by Melissa Gibbs

Building the Tabernacle, Exodus 35-36

As someone noted in the comments from yesterday, God has said something about the Sabbath every day for the past 5 days! He is clearly driving home the point that the Sabbath regulations are for real! Isn't it funny that we have to be mandated to stop working? Is working really that awesome and resting that unpleasant? I am speaking to myself louder than anyone when I say this, but we need to listen to God when he reiterates something this strongly!

The most striking thing about today's reading for me, was the willingness of the people to give. When it came time to build the Tabernacle, the people supplied the materials. On different occasions, the text speaks of "those whose hearts were willing" and "every man and woman who was eager to help" and "all whose spirits were moved". In fact, God's specific instructions were to"let those with generous hearts present the following gifts..." He does not mandate that every family within the nation of Israel donate a certain percentage of their goods. Remember that they are in possession of all of this finery because the Egyptians gave it to them as they were leaving. Did you think that strange at the time, that the Lord would have prompted the hearts of the Egyptians to hand over their finest jewelry and clothing to the fleeing Israelites? Well in hindsight, how else would the Israelite slaves have had any gold or silver or fine cloth to use for the construction of the Tabernacle??? Nothing is arbitrary. The things that make no sense to us, make sense to God whether we ever get the benefit of understanding it or not.

Back to the Israelites' cheerful giving... We do not see God forcibly requiring the Israelites to provide for the Tabernacle but rather we see him drawing the hearts of those who were willing. This was not a tithe, the 10% given by each family for the care of the Levites (priests who served the Lord in the Tabernacle and earned no income), the funding of religious festivals, and the care of the poor. This was a "love offering" and the people gave above and beyond what was needed. Moses had to ask them to stop bringing gifts for the Tabernacle! What a problem to have and what a foreign concept for the modern-day church. I heard a message over the holidays about giving, and remember it being said that if every Christian tithed, not every person just every Christian, we could end hunger and poverty and the social evils that accompany them. Clearly, we are of a different mindset than the Israelites. Just 3% of Americans give 10% of their income and less than 6% of Christians are regular tithers. Christians spend more in a year on dog food than they do in giving to their churches and Christian ministries. And in these lean times, ministries are down-sizing and even closing their doors due to lack of funding.

The Israelites were pleased to take part in the work of the lord and the same is expected of us today. We should contribute to the Lord's work gladly and equip the church to minister to God's people as it should. Second Corinthians 9:7 reads "each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver". The tithe is no longer our benchmark, as it is an Old Testament regulation. However, most theologians would agree that the 10% recommendation should be the minimum for today's Christian instead of a mark that few even hit.

About Melissa Gibbs:

 Melissa is the mother of four boys and the wife of her junior high sweetheart, JD.  He is the President of Joe Gibbs Racing and the son of NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs.  JD and Melissa have been married 16 years and are actively involved with Young Life, Motor Racing Outreach, their church, and other ministries.  Their youngest son Taylor is nearing completion of a 3 year treatment protocol for leukemia, which has been a powerful faith walk for their family.  Since his diagnosis, Melissa has been called upon to share their family's testimony with many local churches.

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