The Free Gifts for the Tabernacle

 •  17 min. read  •  grade level: 8
"And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.
"And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.
"And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the Lord.
"And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers' skins, brought them.
"Everyone that did offer an offering of silver and brass, brought the Lord's offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it.
"And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen.
"And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' hair.
"And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate; "And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense, " The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring, for all manner of work, which the Lord had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.-Ex. 35:20-2920And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. 22And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the Lord. 23And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers' skins, brought them. 24Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the Lord's offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it. 25And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. 26And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' hair. 27And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate; 28And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the Lord had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses. (Exodus 35:20‑29)
THE people of Israel responded to the words of the Lord, delivered to them by Moses; and the willing heart was, as it were, stamped upon each gift brought by them for the construction of the tabernacle. The bondage under which law placed them, was for a little while broken through or set aside, by this appeal of the Lord to their hearts. For the tabernacle was a type of Christ, God's free gift, and therefore those who contributed towards it, must show some faint token of the same liberal spirit. The word " willing" is sometimes translated "free," 2 Chron. 29:3131Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings. (2 Chronicles 29:31).; Psa. 51:1212Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psalm 51:12). " Liberal," Isa. 32:5,85The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. (Isaiah 32:5)
8But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand. (Isaiah 32:8)
. Also "nobles,"
Num. 21:1818The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah: (Numbers 21:18).; Psa. 83:22For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. (Psalm 83:2). And " princes" 1 Sam. 2:88He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them. (1 Samuel 2:8), etc Princely liberality was thus for a little moment exhibited by that people, of whom the Lord afterward complains. " Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honored me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.-Isa. 23, 24.
It would seem as if the beauty of the type, the costly gift of God to which it pointed, had suddenly opened their churlish hearts. Alas! soon to close again, and ultimately to reject the very gift itself, which God in the fullness of His love offered to them.
What a truth this tells us, respecting the way in which we should seek to please God! A servile spirit ill befits one who has tasted of His grace. A covetous heart is especially an abomination to Him who has not spared His own Son. Let us only contemplate more deeply, more truly, the vastness of His gift to us. Let us learn a little more and more of the heart of God as shown in His wondrous love in the gift of Christ, and we shall acquire a more princely character-more true nobility of spirit; and we shall be more ready to yield ourselves, all we are, and all we have, a willing offering in His service.
These willing-hearted ones came, both men and women, and brought first, their gold; " Bracelets, earrings, rings and tablets, all jewels of Gold." Their personal ornaments were thus freely given up, as an heave-offering unto Jehovah. And in this women as well as men participated; the weak as well as the strong.
In this respect there is similarity between the gold used in the tabernacle, and the brass employed for the Laver. The brazen mirrors of the women assembling at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation were given up by them, for the laver and his foot. Ex. 38:88And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Exodus 38:8). They preferred to look upon a vessel full of cleansing water, instead of contemplating their own beauty in the mirror. Just so a sinner touched by the grace of God ceases to seek comfort or self-congratulation from his own comeliness; and gladly turns away to the laver of regeneration, the death of Christ, which turns his comeliness into corruption, and cleanses him from the filth of the flesh.
In like manner these Israelitish men and women preferred the contemplation of the dwelling-place of God, to personal adornings. They gave up their jewels of gold (which if worn by themselves would have attracted the gaze of others to their own persons,) in order that all eyes and hearts might be set upon the tabernacle of the Most High.
Are we seeking our adornments from Christ? Are we gathering glory, comeliness and beauty by gazing upon Him? Have we the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit-of priceless value in the sight of God; because so eminently displayed in His blessed Son?
After specifying that both men and women brought their jewels of gold it is added, " and every man that offered, an offering of gold unto the Lord." The words " that offered an offering," are peculiar. It is literally every man that waved a wave-offering to Jehovah. The gold is again called a wave-offering. Ex. 38:2424All the gold that was occupied for the work in all the work of the holy place, even the gold of the offering, was twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary. (Exodus 38:24). Thus we have the two words used in this chapter with reference to the free will offerings of the children of Israel, " wave-offering," and " heave-offering.' Two portions of "the peace sacrifice," were respectively waved and heaved, " the wave breast," and " the heave shoulder." The action of waving before the Lord that which was presented to Him seems to denote the passing it to and fro before His eyes, so that He may scrutinize every part. Whilst the heaving an offering would represent lifting it off the earth in separation to Jehovah.
Every man in this instance waved a wave-offering of gold to the Lord, distinct it may be from the jewels also presented. In this action he called attention to the preciousness and purity of the mass of fine gold which he offered. It was the first material presented. It may be because it is the precious metal which in type represents the divine glory of the Lord Jesus. as the Son of God.
We find next, blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats' hair, red skins of rams, and badgers skins brought by men. Here all the materials are classed together, which were used for the curtains, hangings, and coverings of the tabernacle. And it is especially said, that " every man" who possessed such, brought it. Every manifestation of the Lord Jesus is precious to God, and is an object for our faith to rest upon, and to be occupied with. A man in Christ, will have the word of God richly abiding in him; his ways will partake of the impress of Christ; and he will be strong in the grace of the Lord, and in the power of His might. Such an one will be acquainted with all the beauteous displays of God and man, which the Lord hath made manifest. Perhaps those who have advanced a little further than others in the life of faith, have found the Gospels to be both the richest, and deepest study for their hearts; and by far the most difficult part of Scripture. For without note or comment, they simply portray Christ, and leave us to gather, or extract the truth and the blessing from them.
The silver and the brass are next linked together as a " heave-offering."
The silver was derived altogether from the atonement-money. This has already been treated of. It is perhaps here connected with the brass, because there were sockets made of both metals. The foundations of the tabernacle and court, were the result of general contributions from the whole company of God's people.
The " shittim wood " was also contributed by every one who happened to have it: and the expression is added " for any work of the service." This wood was used to form the whole framework of the tabernacle, and the greater part of the holy vessels. The Lord Jesus as "the Son of Man," has accomplished God's counsels in redemption. He has been lifted up on the cross. He has been raised to the right hand of the Throne of glory. His great "work of service" has all been accomplished through His having partaken of flesh and blood. This truth of His having come in the flesh is an essential part of the faith of every believer.
" Every wise hearted woman spun with her hands the blue and purple, the scarlet and fine linen." Here the word " woman " in Hebrew is in the singular number. The same word which Adam spoke. Gen. 2:2323And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. (Genesis 2:23), when he said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, (isha) because she was taken out of man, (ish)
These beautiful colors were handled and spun by each woman. May there not be in this a type of the church, the woman, who delights to trace the beauties of her Lord, and to handle by faith the word of life, which describes His loveliness and the perfections of His character.
" And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' hair." Here the women are spoken of collectively in the plural, and they had a heart stirred in wisdom to spin goats' hair. One heart led them to this one work. If it be as before suggested that the goats' hair for the curtains was derived from the sin-offerings of the people, or had an allusion to them; then we can understand the wisdom of earth which led the women to this work.
Surely we shall be showing our wisdom of heart, in contemplating Christ " made sin for us," in contrast with all the folly of this world's boasted wisdom, which despises the foolishness of the cross.
The Rulers brought precious stones for the ephod and breastplate. And spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.
The word "ruler" is sometimes translated "captain." Num. chap. ii. throughout; sometimes " prince." Num. chap. vii. throughout, etc.
They are first mentioned, Ex. 16:2222And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. (Exodus 16:22), when the double quantity of manna was gathered, to the surprise of these leaders of the congregation.
Thus we find them first interested in the bread from heaven given by God to Israel, and next, bringing those gems on which the names of Israel were to be inscribed, and the oil and perfumes for anointing the tabernacle, and priesthood, and for the daily incense.
In the Church of God, there are those to whom the Lord has given by the Holy Ghost, the gift of rule. Guides of the flock, and whose especial responsibility is to build upon the foundation, that which shall abide the testing day which is coming.
The foundation has already been laid, Jesus Christ. " but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon."
Three durable things, gold, silver, precious stones, if built thereupon will abide the fire. Those who lead on, and instruct the Church of God, will build gold, if they seek to raise the hearts and consciences of the Lord's saints to the heavenly standard, Christ. If they act before them " the Apostle and High Priest of their profession," and, bid them as " holy brethren, partakers of the Heavenly calling, consider Him." The Epistle to the Hebrews is full of the glorious display of this gold, and we are exhorted to consider Him, and to consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.
Building silver may mean, seeking to lead the people of God to follow the ways of divine purity and holiness manifested in the Lord Jesus in all the actions of His grace and love whilst on earth. Perhaps we may call the Gospel by Luke the Silver Gospel, and that by John the Golden Gospel.
Precious stones manifest light in sparkling varied colors as they are turned about. The Epistle to the Ephesians seems to shed the divine luster of the heavenly calling, and to display the Church as the jewels adorning its glorious Head, the Lord Jesus. This Epistle in its closing exhortations deals with the hearts of the saints, instructing them how to make the highest glories of the heavenly calling shine out in the relationships of this present life. It also exhorts believers to maintain and make manifest the strength and brilliancy of the precious Stone, undimmed by worldliness, and unaffected by the wiles of the devil, or the fiery darts of the wicked one.
To build precious stones would be to lead on believers into the truths contained in this Epistle, so that their lives might openly declare their high standing as quickened and raised up together with Christ, not of the world, even as He is not of the world.
On the other hand, we are warned against building wood, hay, stubble.
Wood is a very useful material for earth; but it will not stand the fire. So it is not the ministry of God's builders to be instructing His saints in what may merely fit them for usefulness in earthly things. Many of what are called philanthropic objects, will do very well for the men of this world; but they will not abide the day that is to try every man's work by fire.
A higher calling is that of the believer. Let the dead bury their dead, but " go thou and preach the kingdom of God," (Luke 9:59,6059And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:59‑60),) was a command of Christ to one, whom He had called to follow Him. Let the dead world care for its own works of death. Our business is to minister life and righteousness, which shall abide forever.
Hay is a degree lower than wood, as to its usefulness, and will consume more rapidly in the coming fire. It is dried grass and flowers. It has relics of whatever was fair, but is cut down and withered. There are traces of glory and beauty in the natural man, which cannot fail to remind us of his origin; but these very tokens of what he once was, are marred by the presence of sin and death It is not the province of a true servant of God, to cultivate that which seems fair or glorious in the natural man; but rather to deal with the new man, which " after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Alas! much of the literature of the day is an attempt to make the dried grass and flowers of human imagination and invention, a vehicle for the truths of God. A trashy set of religious fictions-or sentimental tales of imagination, are constantly teeming from the press, (fuel only for the fire,) which never can build up the soul of the child of God in its high and heavenly calling.
Stubble is fit only for burning-it has not even the fragrance, or the remains of beauty which the hay possesses. Have not some of God's own choice servants, (devoted to His work, and loving Him truly,) lent themselves to patronize amusements, such as concerts, and the like, and even popular exhibitions, that must be mere stubble in the sight of God?
" Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." 1st. Cor. is." The day" is an expression with which we are familiar. It refers to the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 1:88Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:8), 1 Cor. 5:55To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:5), 2 Cor. 1:1414As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:14), etc., and is contrasted with the darkness of the present night. " The night is far spent, the day is at hand." Rom. 13:1212The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12).
We, as believers in Christ, belong to that day-we are of it-we are children of it. 1 Thess. 5: 5, 8. " The day" which we see even now approaching (Heb. 10:2525Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)) will commence with the coming of Christ. It will be a day of manifestation, when the secrets of all hearts will be revealed. Then each believer raised at the first resurrection in the glory and likeness of Christ, will appear before the tribunal of Christ, and his works in the service of the Lord Jesus will be tested. That which has been like gold, silver, precious stones, will abide, and he will receive a reward. That which has been like wood, hay, stubble, will pass away forever, consumed as by fire; and he will suffer loss, although his individual personal salvation will not be affected thereby.
Lot was as safe as Abraham during the overthrow of Sodom. He escaped from the doomed city with but little else than his life, whilst Abraham could look over the smoking plain with all his own possessions unharmed, surrounding him.
May we be found in that day to have labored not in vain in the Lord. Taking heed to these warnings of the word of God, lest we be ensnared in this day of expediency by the plausible arguments put forth by men. We live in a time when the rule is, not " what saith the Lord," but " what seems to be most desirable, or most expedient to human judgment or reasoning."
Besides the precious stones, the rulers brought oil for the light and sweet spices for the anointing oil, and for incense. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the apostle bids them remember their guides, " who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." xiii. 7. Probably the reference here is to those guides or leaders who had departed to be with Christ. They were to be remembered. A little lower down in the chapter, those guides who were then living are spoken of. " Obey your guides, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls as they that must give account; that they may do it with joy and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." That is that they may watch for your souls; not grieving, but with joy.
Those leaders who had departed, had left a light of faith which was to be followed, or imitated. They had not only spoken the word of God, but they had exhibited it in their ways and life, leaving an example to be copied, the word of God having (as it were) lived before the eyes of the flock.
These Rulers had thus made the light of truth to shine through the power of the Holy Ghost, and fragrant graces of the Lord Jesus had been cultivated by them in their fellowship with the saints. They had " brought oil for the light and sweet spices."
May there not be somewhat of a contrast between, " remember your rulers, who have spoken and lived before you, but who have passed away," and the verse which follows, " Jesus Christ (is) the same yesterday, and to day, and forever." Others, however bright as examples and earnest as instructors, are gone-Jesus Christ ever abides. The one author and finisher of faith-unchangeable in His love, and ceaseless in His living care of His people.