Unlikely Sermon Title: Please, Stop Giving an Offering

Throughout the latter half of Exodus, God is describing for Moses and the people what is required for the tabernacle. There needs to be fine cloth, gold and silver, jewels, and other materials for the craftsmen to assemble this dwelling place of God among the Israelites.

In chapter 35 Moses says to all the congregations of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the Lord has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bonze; blue and purple and scarlet yarns…”

Moses goes on listing valuable items that were surely precious to the people. The people hear this message and Scripture says they came back to Moses, “everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him,” and they brought a contribution for God’s tabernacle and for its service. These items came in the form of brooches and armlets, and other personal possessions. It was not as though the people went out to the bank and withdrew some spare gold bullion. They took what was being used in one way for themselves and sacrificed it to God, to be used for his purposes. They also gave of their time, such as the women who spun fine yarns and linens. The people brought their treasure, and in doing so revealed what truly should be our treasure–God.

What really amazed me in reading is in chapter 36. Bezalel and Oholiab, along with the other craftsmen God had gifted skill and artistry to, all had to stop their work and come to Moses with a message. The people had continued to bring contributions for God, a free will offering, every morning to such an extent that the workers had far too much. So they tell Moses, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution of the sanctuary.” People gave their treasures over to God to such an extent that it says they had to be restrained from bringing more. They gave what was sufficient and then some.

What a wonderful problem for the craftsmen to have, and what a wonderful testimony to God of how the Israelites were here being joyful givers, gladly treasuring God and his will above whatever earthly treasures they had previously cherished.

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