Jan. 30 Reading: Exodus 36-38 Commentary
“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.'” (Ex. 36:4-5)
Exodus 36 – An Extravagant Offering
Ever since the golden calf incident of Exodus 32, the Israelites demonstrated their willingness to submit to the Lord. The tribe of Levi rallied to Moses’ side to rid the camp of those who sinned against God (Ex. 32:25-29). The people humbled themselves before the Lord and repented of their sin by removing all the ornaments and decorations used during the sinful festival (Ex. 33:4-6). And they showed respect for Moses’ authority as their representative before the Lord (Ex. 33:8-10).
It’s possible the people were truly remorseful of their sin and were showing true obedience. However, it’s more likely this attitude was in response to God’s declaration that he would not go forward with them anymore on their journey to Canaan (Ex. 33:3). If the God who delivered them from Egypt and performed wondrous miracles before their eyes decided to abandon them, they were probably scared to death. At that point, you’d do anything to win God’s favor again.
Regardless of their motive, the people turned back to God for the moment. And their appreciation for all He’d done for them was seen in a profound and inspirational way.
The intricate details of the construction of the tabernacle are amazing. God showcased his detailed and artistic nature in the instructions for the various items needed for the tabernacle. But what is even more amazing is the people’s willingness to give to the project.
The Tabernacle Offering
Whenever people are asked to give, you never quite know how that plays out. Will they feel connected to the project and give what is needed? Or will they hold back, thinking that their resources can better be used in another way?
So when the call went out to give the items needed for this project (Ex. 35:20-29), Moses probably wasn’t quite sure what he’d get. What happened must have been a surprise.
“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.'” (Ex. 36:2-5)
Did you catch that? The people not only gave an offering of what was needed, they exceeded it to the point that it was too much!
So Moses issued a command 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” (Ex. 36:6-7).
Can you imagine that today? A people so willing to give and share that they meet the need beyond measure. What could be accomplished for the kingdom of God if people were this willing to give?
Exodus 37 and 38 – Making the Tabernacle Artifacts
Exodus 37 describes in detail the construction of the items needed for the tabernacle. God gave Moses these instructions in Exodus 25-28. Now we seem them carried out in precise detail by Bezalel, the project manager for the tabernacle construction.
It is important to note that God endowed certain people with skills and abilities to carry out the work of constructing the tabernacle. They worked just as the Lord commanded them (Ex. 36:1) and did not deviate from His plan. Any variation in the design would have been an act of disobedience before the Lord.
So with exact precision, the workers carried out the Lord’s instructions and built the following items to be used in the tabernacle space:
the Ark of the Covenant (aka the Ark of Testimony) (Ex. 37:1-9)
the table of showbread (Ex. 37:10-16)
the gold lampstand (Ex. 37:17-23)
the altar of incense (Ex. 37:25-28)
the anointing oil and incense (Ex. 37:29)
the altar of burnt offering (Ex. 38:1-7)
the bronze laver (Ex. 38:8)
They then finished out the tabernacle space by constructing the courtyard (Ex. 38:9-20).
No Ordinary Structure
The tabernacle was God’s dwelling place. It was a holy shrine that symbolized God’s presence with His people. And it was magnificent in every detail.
Ex. 38:21-31 gives us the final listing of the elements used in its construction. The amount of precious metals used is noteworthy:
1. The amount of gold used measured close to one ton. Verse 24 says 29 talents and 730 shekels of gold were used. (One talent weighed about 70 pounds.)
2. The amount of silver used was about 7,000 pounds (v. 25).
3. The amount of bronze used was about 5,000 pounds (v. 29).
Those are staggering amounts!
So you might ask “Where did all this come from?” Well, remember what happened after the 10th plague right before the people left Egypt? God made the Israelites so favorable in the Egyptian’s eyes that Israel plundered them. The Egyptians gave the Hebrews anything they asked for (Ex. 12:33-36), including articles of silver and gold, just to get them to leave.
Finally, we see the amount of people donating these items: 603,550 men (v. 26).
So, when you put those two things together, one can see how such an offering could have been given.
Questions to Consider:
What is your reaction when someone asks you to give? How open is your heart to being generous to others and to the work of the Lord?
God has blessed you with skills and the wisdom to know how to use those skills. As Paul said, “For we God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). Are you honoring God in your work by using the skills He’s given you to their fullest potential?
What other points would you want to know about in our Exodus 36-38 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.