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.
The plans are in place! The blueprints are being written up. The details are set. Life as we know it is changing. There are three constants in the world: Death, Taxes, and Change. The people of Israel are used to living surrounded by other gods. Gods of the Egyptians, gods of the Canaanites, and the gods of everyone in between. All of these other gods have temples and alters and rules of worship, but the Israelites seem to not have anything that they can use to identify with their God. The God of the Israelites doesn’t want statues to be made of Him. He hides His name from them. They have no established alter or temple to bring sacrifices to. How do you connect with a God like that?
Well, that’s all changing. God has just given Moses the plans for the tabernacle, and is now giving him the plans and blueprints for the alter and courtyard as well. The people of Israel are well on their way to having a place and way to worship that is all their own. No more having to watch all of these other nations and people worship their gods in all their ways, and not to be able to show their devotion to the God of their fathers. Finally, there is a more complete identity in what it means to be an Israelite and to serve their own God. The people of Israel are starting to become a more cohesive unit with all that YHWH has done for them, and now a way for the circle to be completed… a place to honor and serve Him in return. They are finally able to fulfill their lives and purpose.
We sometimes lose sight of the fact that we have been place on this planet and in this world for a purpose outside of ourselves. Our culture attempts to push us to accept that we are here to serve ourselves, and that other people are here for me. But the reality is that we are here to serve Him. When we are not serving Him, or worshiping Him in what we do and say, we will always have a sense of loss… of being incomplete. It’s only in honoring and worshiping God in our lives, actions, and words that we are able to be complete in who we are. These ancient civilizations had so much of a better grasp of these concepts than we do. We are continually trying to rebel from what some would call “oppression”, but what is in reality a core part of who we are… To serve a greater God. And now, with the plans in place, the Israelites are finally going to get what they need. A place and way to serve the one true God, the alter and court of the tabernacle.
John J. Camiolo Jr.
So YHWH finishes giving the people His first set of instructions. They have heard His Decalogue and His various other commands, so now we get to see their response to this sampling of the laws. God starts out by telling Moses and the leaders of Israel to come up to worship Him, but before that happens Moses wants to make sure that the people understand what is expected of them. He doesn’t want them rebelling as soon as Moses and the leaders go up the mountain or anything.
So Moses starts out by recounting to the people what YHWH expects of them. YHWH told them once, now Moses tells them again. The people respond that they will listen, and they will obey. Great! Now Moses and the people sacrifice to the LORD, and Moses sets up 12 pillars to represent the 12 tribes. Then for good measure, he takes the evening / night to write down the covenant and instructions that God has given to him and the people. Then, to MAKE SURE that the people know and are aware of YHWH’s instructions, he reads the book of the covenant to the people!
Don’t you think that that’s a little overkill! I mean come on! They heard it from God Himself, then Moses reminds them of what they have already heard and agreed to, so they confirmed it to him again. Then after worshiping and sacrificing to the LORD…THEIR GOD, Moses wrote it all down and read it back to them the very next day! I mean come on Moses, didn’t they already agree to this TWICE! I mean honestly, what do you think is going to happen here? Do you think you will go up the mountain with the leaders and the people will forget everything that has happened and everything that they have sworn to do!?! Give it a rest already!
So now Moses and the leaders go up. The leaders actually see YHWH, the God of Israel! Wow! I mean, WOW! To see the LORD in all His glory! Now that is a life changing experience! Isn’t it!?! No man can see that and ever rebel or fall away… can he?
How many of us desire to see God? How many of us think that if we just see Him perform a miracle or see just a part of His glory it will change who we are and how we live the rest of our lives? He is The Living God after all. Is that enough?