So the tabernacle and all that it will contain has been made. Now on to the court and the alter. If i thought that the ark of the covenant was small, the alter is HUGE! At 5 cubits long (~7 1/2 feet) and 5 cubits wide and 3 cubits (~4 1/2 feet) tall, this thing was not small at all. But then again, when sacrifices included bulls, size does matter!
So the court of the tabernacle is underway with its pillars and linen hangings. All around the tabernacle are these hangings of fine twisted linen connected to pillars of bronze with hooks of silver. The entryway was to the east, to the rising sun, and the work of making all of the tabernacle and its tools of worship is finished. All that’s left is the priestly garments, putting everything together, and… the results.
All of this came together with structure and a plan. It took time, and effort, and finances to make it happen. It wasn’t just God doing it because it would be faster and easier for Him to do it Himself than to rely on humans to do it. He gave us the work. He gave us the plan. He gave His people the desire to make it happen. Do we have a structure and plan for our spiritual growth? Are we willing to invest ourselves into that plan? Are we willing to put our time, effort, and finances into loving God and loving others, or are we only willing to do the absolute minimum in order to get away with the least we can. Are we giving our firstfruits or our leftovers? Do we want to enter the court of the King, or are we satisfied with just passing it by and knowing that it’s there if we need it?
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.