December 4, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“‘And Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the Lord has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the Lord has commanded.’ Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work. And they received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of making the sanctuary. So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, ‘The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do.’ So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, ‘Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.’ And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done—indeed too much.”—Exodus 36:1–7 (NKJV)
Having freed the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt, the Lord is now engaged in the long and painful process of freeing them from the destructive inclinations deeply embedded in their own hearts. Central to this work was establishing a sacred structure where God and His people could connect. Even though He is everywhere all the time, the Lord wanted to localize His presence in order to affirm and assure the Israelites that He was with them in a unique way. This would all happen in a divinely designed tent-like dwelling called the tabernacle.
Now, there are a lot of ways the Lord could have brought this structure into being. The Exodus story could have read something like this, “And the skies parted and something divine slowly descended from heaven and came to rest in the midst of the children of Israel.” But that’s not how it happens because that’s not how God wanted it to happen. Instead, He involves His people in the actual construction of the tabernacle, and we get a powerful insight into one of the reasons why He chose this route.
The tabernacle, and everything associated with it, was to be made out of precious materials. Some things were to be gold, some things were to be silver, other things were to be made from fine linen. The point is that it would require things of value to make it, and the Lord wanted the Israelites to be the ones to provide all that was necessary.
Right off the bat, we see how this would create a sense of investment for the Israelites in the tabernacle. By giving their own gold, silver, and linen towards this work, there would be an inherently deeper connection to it. As Jesus taught, your heart follows your treasure (Matthew 6:21), and in giving their treasure their hearts would be drawn to the tabernacle and what it represented.
But stop and ask yourself, “Where did all this treasure come from?” Remember, these were an enslaved people—they weren’t flush with wealth. So, how did they come by so much of it? The Bible answers this by telling us God moved in the hearts of the Egyptians to give all of their wealth to the Israelites as they left their land (Exodus 12:36).
If you’re an Israelite, and wealth has been denied to you and your people as long as you can remember, it must have been tempting to reinterpret your identity based upon your newfound treasure. God didn’t want that to happen. He wanted His people defined by their relationship with Him. So, before these riches could sprout roots, they’re given the opportunity to give much of it back to the Lord, which they do in a remarkable way!
What’s the lesson here? God involves us in His work because it connects our hearts to Him and what He’s doing. And as we pour our “treasure” into it, our sense of identity is deepened and defined by our relationship with Him.
Pause: Why did God want the Israelites involved in the construction of the tabernacle?
Practice: Consider how you’re involved in what the Lord is doing and the effect it has on your sense of identity.
Pray: Father, thank You for drawing me into a relationship with You and for inviting me to take part in Your work. Show me how I can grow in my involvement so I can deepen my relationship with You. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.