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THE FREE WILL OFFERING
It is only in verse 4 to 29 that God asks and receives a free will offering from Israel, and it may seem strange that verses 2 and 3 previously insist once more on the observance of the Sabbath day. But this has a vital spiritual significance. Only in the spirit of resting from our own works can we really present anything to God. If we come in a spirit of self confidence in what we have to secure the things we bring to God, this is not acceptable to Him. We must remember that all belong to Him in the first place, as David says, "of Your own we have given You" (1 Chronicles 29:14). In fact, the abundance which the children of Israel possessed was the result of God's working in the hearts of the Egyptians to give Israel such riches as to spoil the Egyptians (ch.12:35-36).
The Sabbath was the one day in which no work was to be done. Also no fire was to be kindled that day (v.3). This would be a cruel law if applied to the inhabitants of an extremely cold climate, but it applied only to Israel. The Sabbath also was to be a day when God's judgment was not kindled, -- neither a day of work nor of judgment, but of rest. It looks on therefore to God's eternal day, when He will have accomplished all His work, and judgment has accomplished its ends, so that He may fully rest in His love and rejoice over us with singing.
But we are to consider now that which is not law at all, but in contrast to law. By the word of the Lord, Moses is told to take from the children of Israel an offering to the Lord, but only from those who are of a willing heart (vs.4-5). The law does not speak in this way, but makes stern demands of everyone under it. But the object of all these offerings is to prepare a dwelling for the Lord among them, and grace is the only principle that is allowed to have part in this.
Only because of God's grace can He ever dwell among His people, and He expects a response awakened only by grace, therefore fully willing hearted. Even in His giving the law. God could not refrain from making clear the fact that law could never provide a cause for His coming to dwell with His people.
Yet any offering to God must be according to God's instructions, not that which is considered convenient by men. Gold is first mentioned, for it symbolizes the glory of God. Silver speaks of redemption, and copper, of the holiness of God. These are all vitally important and basic to our relationship with God. All the other materials also are spiritually significant, as we have seen in earlier chapters -- blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats' hair, ram skins dyed red, badger skins (possible seal skins), acacia wood, oil, spices, onyx stones and other precious stones to be set in the ephod and breastplate.
As well as willing hearted givers, God expected willing hearted artisans to engage in the work of making the tabernacle in its entirety and all of its furniture, both inside and out. These things are all listed from verse 11 to verse 19, and all have been discussed in considering chapters 25 to 30 which the reader may consult again to refresh his memory.
Having received their instructions, the people went out to obey them, at least all whose hearts were stirred to act with a willing spirit (vs.20-21). Those who appreciated God Himself would be glad to respond in this way. In verse 21 we are told of "a willing spirit;" in verse 22, "a willing heart," and in verse 29, "whose hearts were willing."
Both men and women came, bringing "earrings, nose rings, necklaces, all jewelry of gold." All these things had been used to decorate the flesh. Some might consider it a sacrifice to give them up, but when given in genuine desire for the Lord's honor, then we should certainly have the attitude of the apostle Paul, who wrote, "What things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8). In other words, he did not consider it a sacrifice at all in comparison to what he gained in appreciation of Christ.
So it was also with other materials for this great work of preparing a dwelling for the Lord. Those who possessed blue, purple, scarlet and fine linen, goats hair, ram skins and badger skins brought them, while others brought what they had that would be of service to the Lord Women who had ability for it spun yarn of various kinds, and goats' hair (v.25-26). The rulers brought precious stones, spices and oil (v.27). Thus all was provided by the willing cooperation of the children of Israel. This stands in beautiful contrast to the unwilling attitude produced by imposing law on the people. At first they may say they will obey the law, but it is not long before they became resentful of it and rebellious.
MASTER BUILDERS PUT IN CHARGE
(vs.30 - Ch..36:7)
By God's distinct call Bezaleel of the tribe of Judah was given a place of prominence in the work of building. God had filled him with the Spirit of God, to have wisdom, understanding and knowledge as to all kinds of workmanship. This involved artistic design, whether in gold, silver and copper, in cutting jewels, carving wood etc. Besides this working ability he was also given ability to teach, so that others could follow in similar work.
However, another man, Aholiab of the tribe of Dan is to supplement Bezaleel in the work. Dan was the tribe that went first into idolatry and unfaithfulness (Judges 18:30-31), in spite of which, in the end, "Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel" (Genesis 49:16). Bezaleel of Judah symbolizes the government of God in His house, but Aholiab of Dan pictures the grace of God, who can restore even from serious failure.
But in the case of both men, they tell us that it is the Spirit of God who energizes all the work that is done in connection with God's house. Others who labored under these men are mentioned, but not by name, just as it is not necessary that we should be spoken of by name if we are doing the work of the Lord as guided by His Spirit. Are we not satisfied that, wherever we do. He should get the credit for it? -- for it is he who actually does the work in us.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Exodus 35". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany