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Exodus 35:49, 3036:1; 40:1215comment (0)

May 6, 2010

By Jeffrey S. Quiet

Related Scripture: Exodus 35:49, 3036:1; 40:1215

Explore the Bible
Associate professor of marriage and family counseling, University of Mobile

Exodus 35:4–9, 30–36:1; 40:12–15

Offerings to the Lord (35:4–9)

Moses invited the people to make voluntary offerings of materials needed for building the tabernacle. The offerings were collected from property in the possession of Israelite families. God did not require things the Israelites did not already have. The list of items suggests how God had blessed them with possessions. Notice the diversity of the materials ranging from very expensive items to everyday objects owned by the majority of the people. The variety of items required to build the tabernacle provided opportunity for all to give. All gifts, no matter their worth, were given equal value in God’s eyes. The important part was the people’s willingness to give freely to God’s purposes.

A few important principles of stewardship can be found in this passage.

First, although God commanded the Israelites to give, He still allowed them to give freely without forcing them to make offerings. Throughout Scripture, God commands us to give, but He never takes our offerings by force. God desires a cheerful giver, not one who gives out of compulsion (2 Cor. 9:7).

Secondly God never asks for more than what we are able to give but He does ask us to give what we have. Everything is God’s, which makes us stewards of what He has given us (Ps. 24:1). Making financial offerings to God (and His church by extension) is simply giving back to Him what He has blessed us with already.

Abilities to the Lord (35:30–36:1)
Moses announced the appointment of Bezalel, Oholiab and others who would help the people build the tabernacle. These men were “filled … with the Spirit of God” in order to carry out their work. The builders’ talent was not their own but a gift from God much like the material possessions that were requested from the Israelites earlier. Their abilities and knowledge were used for God’s purposes. The detailed work that went into building the tabernacle also required a significant time commitment. Not only were their abilities required but their time was also a crucial part of their offering to the Lord. God would build a beautiful structure through the hands of people who surrendered their time and abilities to Him.

More principles of stewardship can be gained from this passage. Stewardship involves much more than simply giving our tithes and offerings. It also involves giving our time and talents. Like our financial blessings, our abilities and knowledge are gifts from God to be used for His glory. Many who regularly give to the church believe their duties are complete. But God also wants us to give our abilities to His service whenever and wherever they may be useful for His purposes. Blessings from God in all their different forms carry a responsibility to bless others and further His Kingdom.

Life to the Lord (40:12–15)
Once the tabernacle was completed, Aaron and his sons were brought there to be consecrated for priestly service. This was not a one-time or temporary appointment but a lifelong commitment for Aaron, his sons and the generations of his family line. The Israelites gave offerings, the appointed builders erected the tabernacle but Aaron’s family would serve in the tabernacle for generations to come. This “offering” involved a serious commitment and a willingness to give up everything for God.

The ultimate lesson of stewardship can be found in this passage. Although giving money, talent and time is necessary, it is one’s entire life that God desires. Money, talent and time must not be substitutes for the whole person. Giving one’s life to the Lord is not just for pastors and other ministers. Anyone who follows Christ must give all of the self to Him so that the true, new self can be resurrected (Rom. 6:4).

True stewardship, therefore, begins with an entire life that is submitted to God. Money, time and talents are given more enthusiastically when a life is already under Christ’s lordship.       

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