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THE OFFERINGS FOR THE TABERNACLE
Exodus 36:5-2.36.7. And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people briny much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing: for the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.
THE followers of Christ are supposed to regard this as their favourite maxim, ‘The greater the sinner, the greater the saint:’ they are considered also as approving an inference that may be deduced from it, namely, that it is advisable to commit some gross crime, in order to augment our future piety. We trust however, that such calumnies, though often affirmed, are not really credited. The least consideration would convince a man, that such a sentiment could find no place in a religious mind. But though we disclaim any such licentious tenets, (yea, and utterly abhor them,) yet we must say, that “he who has been forgiven much, will love much;” and that “godly sorrow,” in proportion as it exists in the soul, “will work indignation and revenge” against all our spiritual enemies, and will lead us invariably to “bring forth works meet for repentance.” This truth is strongly illustrated in the history before us. The whole nation of the Jews had revolted from God, and worshipped the golden calf. For this God had threatened them with utter destruction; but, upon the intercession of Moses, had reversed his decree, and had received them again to his favour. Instead of forsaking them utterly, he had even determined to dwell among them as their God; and had ordered a tabernacle to be made for him, with every thing else which would be wanted for the services they were to present unto him. For the constructing of this he relied on the liberality of his people: and the event proved that his reliance was well placed; and that their sense of the obligations conferred upon them was sufficiently powerful for the occasion. The account given us of their zeal is truly edifying. It will be proper to notice,
The object of it—
[They had lately shewn an unhappy zeal in the service of a false god; and now they laboured to evince their gratitude to Jehovah, and to exalt the honour of his name. This desire filled the whole nation, and was the main-spring of those exertions which they now made.
And who must not acknowledge this to have been an object worthy their supreme attention? Survey the objects which occupy the minds of men, and to the pursuit of which they willingly devote their wealth and labour: the gratifications of sense, how mean are they, in comparison of that which now animated the Jewish people! the attainment of honour, or the acquisition of wealth, how empty are they in comparison of that nobler end which Israel pursued! Theirs was worth ambition, and might well provoke them all to holy emulation. To have Jehovah resident among them—to provide for him a suitable habitation—to have proper means of access to him, and of communications from him—and, finally, to possess before their eyes a pledge of his continued care, and his eternal love—this was as much beyond the poor objects of common ambition, as the contemplations of reason and philosophy exceed the dreams of children.
Happy would it be for us, if we all formed the same judgment, and were all penetrated with the same desire! — — —]
[There are two things in their conduct which we cannot fail to notice, and admire; namely, their liberality and their diligence. No sooner did they know what things would be accepted, than they vied with each other in supplying them. Whatever any man possessed that could be applied to the projected structure, he deemed it instantly, Corban; and without hesitation consecrated it to the service of his God. Their ornaments, of whatever kind, were stripped off; all, both men and women, being more desirous to beautify the sanctuary of their God, than to adorn themselves. Each seemed to think himself rich, not in proportion to what he retained for his own use, but to the supplies he was able to contribute. The poorest among them were as glad to give their wood, their rams’ skins, or their brass, as the richest were their jewels and their gold.
Nor were they less solicitous to work, than to supply materials for working. The women engaged in spinning the goats’ hair and in embroidering the linen, while the men were occupied in forming the wood and metals for their respective uses. Those who could teach were as glad to instruct others, as others were to receive instruction: and all desired, in whatever way they could, to advance the work.
Now it is in this way that genuine religion always operates. The converts in every age are represented as coming unto God, “their silver and their gold with them [Note: Compare Isaiah 60:17; Act 2:44-45; 2 Corinthians 8:1-47.8.4.]:” and it is characteristic of them all, that they are “a peculiar people, zealous of good works” — — —]
[Such was the conduct of all who were “wise-hearted,” and “whose spirits made them willing” to glorify their God [Note: Mark how often these expressions occur in this and the preceding chapter.]: and the effect was, that, in a very few days, the abundance of the gifts exceeded the occasion for them; and it became necessary to issue through the camp a prohibition against adding any thing further to the store.
O what might not be done for the honour of God and the benefit of mankind, if all exerted themselves according to their ability! How easy would it be to erect places for the worship of God; to provide accommodations for the poor; to administer instruction to the ignorant, consolation to the troubled, relief to the distressed! Such an union of zealous exertions as we see exhibited on this occasion, would in a great measure drive affliction from the world, and turn into a paradise this vale of tears — — —]
Let the cause of God be dear unto our souls—
[We have not, it is true, any such edifice to raise, and therefore may be supposed to have no such call for zeal and diligence. But is there not a spiritual temple which God desires to have erected for him, and wherein he may be glorified? Yea, is not that temple infinitely more dear to him than any which can be formed by human hands? The material tabernacle was only a shadow of that better habitation wherein God delights to dwell. Should not that then be an object of our concern? Should not the manifestations of his presence, and the establishment of his kingdom in the world, call forth our zeal, as much as the erection of that fabric in the wilderness did the zeal of Israel? Well may it shame the world at large, that every trifle occupies their minds, more than this: and even the people of God themselves have reason to blush, that their feelings are so acute in reference to their own interests and honour, and so dull in what regards the honour and interests of their God.]
Let us cordially and universally co-operate for the advancement of it—
[It is generally thought that the duty of propagating Christianity pertains to Ministers alone. But it is very little that a Minister can do without the co-operation of his people. Multitudes will never come to hear him, or afford him any opportunities of benefiting their souls: and the greater part even of those who do attend his ministry, gain little from it, for want of having the subjects which they hear impressed upon their minds in a way of private instruction. All should contribute, according to their ability, to advance the salvation of those around them. Masters should take the superintendence of their families, and parents of their children. The more enlightened among the people should endeavour to instruct their unenlightened neighbours. The visiting of the sick, the relieving of the needy, the conducting of Sunday schools for the benefit of the poorer classes, these, and such like works, should be regarded by all, both men and women, as their common province, and followed by all according to their respective abilities [Note: See Romans 16:3; Rom 16:12 and Philippians 4:3.] ;. The people of Israel deemed it not so much their duty, as their privilege, to contribute to the raising of the tabernacle: and this is the light in which we should view our calls to exertion. Do any account it hard to sacrifice somewhat of their time and interest in such a cause? O “tell it not in Gath; publish it not in the streets of Askelon!” “Let not the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” Let us rather unite, all of us, with willing hearts, in the service of our God; and, “whatever our hand findeth to do, let us do it with all our might.”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Exodus 36". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany