The Liberal Offerings

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 8
"And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it: "And they received of Moses all the offering, which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, to make it withal. And they brought yet unto him free offerings every morning.
" And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made; " And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring 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.
What cheerfulness, what devotedness, what liberality was here displayed by the people. With what a princely open hand they brought their " free offerings " every morning. Truly the Jacob character had for a little while passed away from them, and they stood forth like the Israel of God. What a contrast this to the subsequent national sin recorded in Zech. 11:12, 1312And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. (Zechariah 11:12‑13). " And I said unto them, if ye think good, give my price. And if not forbear. So they weighed for my price, thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord." In this their early history they lavished their gifts for the construction of a passing type. Subsequently they prized the reality, the living Jehovah, Emmanuel in the midst of them, at thirty pieces of silver!
In the very house of the Lord itself, adorned with costly stones, lay the thirty pieces of silver; a witness of the shameful, niggardly price at which they valued God's most precious gift. Do we not in principle see the same things around us at the present day? An edifice dedicated to what are so called " religious purposes," is sumptuously adorned with every kind of human invention and device, to gratify the eye and please the taste. But if the hearts of many of the liberal givers of the gold and silver were searched, what would be the value therein found, of the precious sacrifice, the precious blood of Christ? Whilst the name of Jehovah Jesus is in outward profession honored, is He not in reality despised and rejected? A form, a ceremony, a type, a shadow, can be venerated. The flesh can highly esteem it, because it addresses the senses. But " the Child born," " the Son given," " the unspeakable gift" of God, is unknown. Life eternal, salvation, is neglected. A Cain worship supplants that of the true God. And under the semblance of religiousness, a desperately wicked heart secretly despises the precious blood of Christ.
We have two instances recorded in the Gospels of the liberal heart. One in Mark 14:88She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. (Mark 14:8), where the highest commendation perhaps ever given is bestowed by the Lord upon the woman who brought an alabaster box of ointment, very precious, and brake it and poured the contents upon His head. " She hath done what she could." How few of the Lord's servants reach this high standard, especially in their manifestation of love for Him.
The anticipation of His burial called forth this expression of her heart's devotion, which others stigmatized as wasteful expenditure. She had a glimpse of the wondrous value of that death of deaths which He was to accomplish; and she anointed with the costly perfume the Head which was to be crowned with thorns, and to be " marred more than any man's "
Oh! that we might follow her example, gathering from the contemplation of His sorrows on the tree, increase of our heart's affections; not counting our lives dear; but ready to spend and be spent in His service, " who made Himself poor that we through His poverty might be rich."
"Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."
It was all that she had; all her living; and she gave it to God. Did she expect it would add much to the beauty of the house? Or would go far towards some costly ceremonial? No; when the sums were counted over by the treasurer at the close of the day, this farthing was scarcely worth recording in the list of donations.
Men like to head subscription lists with large sums. And the churl is often counted liberal. God looks at the heart, the costly thing in His eyes-" the heart's adoration." The widow in her gift proved her unbounded confidence in God Himself as the giver. She thus expressed to Him her faith-" precious faith," which the Lord Jesus valued; for He had humbled Himself so as to be altogether dependent upon His Father. He was going to enrich God's treasury by giving up Himself, His life, His all, in order to please Him.
We have in 2 Cor. viii. 1-5, another beautiful example of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia. Opening their hearts, so that " in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy, and their deep poverty, abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power I bear record, 'yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty, that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God."
Is not this a striking antitype of the liberality above recorded respecting Israel? All is traced to the grace of God first bestowed upon these saints and then flowing out in abundance of joy and riches of liberality. The " cheerful giver" whom God likes was here displayed, and the spring of it all must have been their knowledge of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. They first gave themselves to God.
In Psa. 22 (that deep psalm of the cross,) the 24th verse might be better translated, " for he bath not despised nor abhorred the poverty of the poor one, neither hath he hid his face from him: but when he cried unto him he heard."
What poverty equal to His upon the cross? What poverty equal to the poverty of death? And such a death! Forsaken of God; forsaken of lover and friend. Nailed in utter weakness to the tree of curse; so that the blessed one exclaimed, " I am a worm and no man." Yet what riches in that death! What glory, what joy to God, what abundance of grace! What treasures of wisdom and power!
In the case of Israel the people had to be restrained from bringing, " for the stuff was sufficient, and too much." But the gold, silver, and brass were reckoned in definite sums.
" All 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.
And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: a bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men. And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the vail; an hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a socket. And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted them.
And the brass of the offering was seventy talents, and two thousand and four hundred shekels. And therewith he made the sockets to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the brazen altar, and the brazen grate for it, and all the vessels of the altar, and the sockets of the court round about, and the sockets of the court gate, and all the pins of the tabernacle, and all the pins of the court round about." Ex. 38:24-3124All 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. 25And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: 26A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men. 27And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the vail; an hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a socket. 28And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted them. 29And the brass of the offering was seventy talents, and two thousand and four hundred shekels. 30And therewith he made the sockets to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the brazen altar, and the brazen grate for it, and all the vessels of the altar, 31And the sockets of the court round about, and the sockets of the court gate, and all the pins of the tabernacle, and all the pins of the court round about. (Exodus 38:24‑31).
When we however regard Him of whom these things were shadows; we have to contrast God's great gift with these comparatively small offerings.
What a depth of truth is contained in the verse, " He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." (Rom. 8:3232He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32).) God's love flowed out unrestrained, unbounded in the gift of Jesus His only begotten Son. Like a mighty ocean, fathomless, boundless, His love buried every thought of our worthlessness and ingratitude. Went down beneath our deepest need. Raised us up to His highest glory. Overcame every hindrance to our eternal blessing, manifesting itself as it never was seen before, and never can be seen again, in not sparing His own Son.
And can this precious gift be estimated? The apostle is obliged at the close of one of the chapters in 2 Cor. where he had been praising their liberality, to exclaim, when He contemplated the liberality of God, " thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift."
This gift is the measure of God's love to us. Through it we are raised to be sons of God. Placed in closer nearness to Him than any created beings. Loved by Him as He hath loved His Son. Every doubt, every uncertainty, every question of heart, should at once be stilled by the remembrance of this wonderful gift. And our own affections should be stirred up to worship and to praise; and our mouths enlarged to ask what we will, through the deeper meditation of God's love, in delivering Christ up to death for us.
The gold, silver, and brass, contributed by Israel were all reckoned in talents and shekels. So highly did God value these little tokens of their willing hearts, that He carefully records them, even to the very last shekel of brass.
He is not unrighteous to forget any work and labor of love which we show towards His name, in ministering to the need of His saints. A cup of cold water will be remembered. But when we seek to count up His mercies towards us, they are passing knowledge. " How precious are thy thoughts unto me 0 God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand." Psa. 139:17,1817How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! 18If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. (Psalm 139:17‑18).
" Many, 0 Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Psa. 40:55Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. (Psalm 40:5). The word here translated " thoughts," may be rendered devices; it is derived from the same Hebrew root as to "devise cunning work." Surely the skilful devices of God's love and wisdom towards us, in the gift and work of His Son, are beyond all calculation. It will take us an eternity of unbroken rest and blessedness to discover them. Well might the apostle to the Gentiles rejoice in having to proclaim " the unsearchable riches of Christ." Eph. 3:88Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; (Ephesians 3:8).
Thus far have we pursued the subject of the Tabernacle. What has been written should be regarded rather as suggestions for those who read, not as authoritative expositions of the truth.
The succeeding portion will embrace the Priesthood, forming the second division of the subject.