I’m going to say that, 9.5 times out of 10, when someone hears “Exodus” and “the people going to Moses” together, they’re thinking, “whining again!” That’s kind of the modus operandi we expect from this group of wilderness wanderers. Sure they’ve been delivered from Egypt, but they aren’t home yet. And the journey is proving a little harder than they like. And so, most often, when we read of a group of people from one of the twelve tribes going to Moses, it’s usually to lodge some sort of complaint. But not in this morning’s reading. In fact, what Moses had to deal with was a good problem to have.
And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.” So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing.
(Exodus 36:3-6 ESV)
“Enough already,” the craftsmen said. “No more,” they complained. “Moses, make them stop,” they begged, “the people are giving too much for the work of the LORD.”
Okay . . . who wouldn’t want to have that sort of problem to deal with?
God had given Moses instruction concerning the construction and assembly of the tabernacle. The LORD had also raised up specially gifted craftsmen and filled them with an extra measure of the Holy Spirit so that they could build the soon to be dwelling place for God’s glory. All that was needed were the building materials. Gold, silver, bronze . . . lots of it. In addition, blue, purple, and scarlet yarns. Fine twined linens. Goats hair, tanned rams skins, and goatskins. Acacia wood. Also needed, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and fragrant incense, and precious stones for the high priest’s ephod and breastpiece.
So the ask went out, “Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD’s contribution” (Ex. 35:5). And the people responded, big time!!!
And I’m reading this and thinking, wouldn’t it be wonderful if more gatherings of God’s people had this kind of problem? Where more treasure is being given to the LORD’s work than needed? Where more talents are made available than can be deployed in service to others–whether inside or outside of the church? Where more time is being set aside for the kingdom than a local body of believers knows what to do with? Wouldn’t that would be a good problem to have? Pretty sure!
But it’s not just about demanding more or expecting more. Not about raising the bar and putting more pressure on the ask.
Rather, what struck me is that they gave so much because they gave as their hearts stirred them to give (35:21, 26, 29, 36:2). And, though it doesn’t say it explicitly, I’m thinking the One doing the stirring is the LORD. That even the desire to give is given. The freewill towards generosity is but a response to the free moving of the Spirit among them. The propensity to generosity, but an evidence of God’s abundant grace. Even the treasure they had to give, itself, was but divine provision from the exodus.
David, another who, centuries later, longed also for the glory of God to dwell among His people, would put it this way:
But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from You, and of Your own have we given You. . . . O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building You a house for Your holy name comes from Your hand and is all Your own.
(1Chronicles 29:14, 16 ESV)
Would that God’s people had the problem of giving so freely because the Spirit among them was working so fully.
All because of amazing grace. All for His eternal glory.