In Exodus 32 (Sheep and Calf) we brought up this concept of the people’s desire to worship and offer sacrifice to God. They wanted it so much that when it wasn’t given to them how and as fast as they were looking for it, they created their own god so that they would have something… some sort of god to worship. They had been instructed by Aaron to give the earrings from their ears and he created a god for them from the gold. Here however, God, YHWH, has a better way. He doesn’t just want gold, He wants silver, and bronze, and fine fabrics, and goats hair, and acacia wood, and oil, and spices, and setting stones, and so much more. There should not have been a single person of the sons of Israel that could not give / offer something. They have all had a desire to give to the God that gave to them. Now they finally have a chance to do that. They can finally give back to YHWH to their heart’s content. They finally have a healthy outlet for their appreciation.
We have that need too. We have the need to honor and serve something / someone: to express our honor and our praise. It is something that is deep inside of every one of us. It is as much a part of us as our very need to breathe. We are a people of thanksgiving and blessing. If we are not worshiping YHWH, the God of the universe and everything, then we are worshiping money, or family, or education, or entertainment, or ourselves, or something else entirely. We have to find an outlet for our praise and worship or it tears us up inside. We are a people of offering.
It is such a fascinating concept to consider; that WE are beings with a need and primal desire to worship. To give and be an offering. It makes sense when we understand that YHWH created us for relationship with Him. Whether it is purposeful or simply a side effect of that purpose, we NEED to praise, worship, give an offering, and BE an offering.
This chapter also parallels back to Exodus 31 (Work & Rest) in a couple of different ways. Right away the LORD emphasizes the need for a Sabbath rest. In fact, in verse 1 the people are told, “These are the things that the LORD (YHWH) has commanded you to do:” Then the very first thing listed is observing a sabbath rest. In our busy schedules, how often do we ignore this so important command? The other parallel from chapter 31 is that our offering is our giving of our skills and abilities. So often we get into this rut of thinking that our tithe and offering to God is the first 10% of our money, but God doesn’t just ask for our money. He seeks our hearts and our lives. He accepts /expects / demands from us our very lives. Our tithes and offerings are not just our money, they are our skills, abilities, and work / play.
We ARE our offering, and we need to live that way.
John J. Camiolo Jr.
Looking at the chapter and trying to sum up the themes and basic concepts in one word brings me to the idea of ownership. Verses 1-16 are an intermingling of two ideas that most of us would consider separate. There are these very different and distinct concepts. The first is that YHWH spared the firstborn of Israel, and as such they belong to the Lord. Form here on out the firstborn, the one to open the womb, belongs to God. They must be given to God, or they must be redeemed. The second concept is that every year the people of Israel are to have seven days of unleavened bread and a feast at the end. This is in celebration of the Lord passing-over the Israelite’s, destroying the Egyptians, and rescuing the people from slavery. In honor of that event, Passover must be celebrated every year. The people of Israel are to take ownership of the acknowledgment and remembrance of this event. This should be something that they not only acknowledge and understand, but that they also celebrate. The Israelite people must take ownership of the remembrance of this event.
What’s interesting to me, is that these two very distinct and separate concepts are so intermingled in these first 16 verses that as much as it seems like they should be different, it becomes clear that they are interconnected and dependent upon one another. I can’t say that i fully understand it. To me they seem like two very different concepts, but God seems to say otherwise. How and why?
The final concept of ownership in this chapter goes from vs. 17 through the end of the chapter. In this section God takes responsibility / ownership for the people of Israel. He doesn’t just tell Moses to lead them to the Mountain of God; He leads them. He goes before them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He does not leave this to someone else. He takes ownership and does it himself.
We serve a God of words and actions. He doesn’t just tell us to do something. He makes it happen. As a result He is also a God that expects action and ownership from us. We are to take ownership of the tasks that He gives us to do.
Well, things changed as a result of God’s referendum to Pharaoh alright. God said, “Let my go!” Pharaoh said, “What? You want me to do what with your people? …you want me to make their work harder? OK, I can arrange that.”
Wow, this overarching concept and idea feels very familiar for some reason. The LORD gives a command to do something. In obedience it is carried out. Life gets harder, not easier as a result of the obedience. You would think that when the God of the universe instructs you to take a stand and obediently place yourself at risk before everyone, He would come through when you expect him to. But, that’s not necessarily how He works. Taking that step of faith sometimes means getting your toes run over by a steamroller.
The question is, knowing that that is the case, are we willing to be obedient? Are we willing to step out in faith? Are we being obedient to get something out of it, or is our obedience because He is LORD of our life? Can He trust us to obey even when it means more trouble for ourselves?
That’s a difficult problem for most of us Americans. Many times our outlook is; “What’s in it for me?” If we aren’t getting something out of it, we aren’t willing to put anything into it. God doesn’t work that way though. He’s not a direct “If…then…” God. “If you do this for Me, then I will do that for you.” If that’s what you are looking for in a god, then you are looking in the wrong place. Yes, God will bless you amazingly and abundantly when you obey Him. Yes, you will find peace in your life. Yes, you can trust Him, but you cannot count on Him to do what you want Him to do, or even anywhere close to when you want Him to do it. He works on His terms not ours. However, we are still responsible for obeying Him. The benefits will be amazing, but so will the troubles.
So what’s the LORD calling YOU to be obedient to today?