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Doing Things God’s Way
“Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded. 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…According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work. And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.” (Exodus 36:1 - 39:43)
If we would worship and serve the Lord our God, the true and living God, we must worship and serve him in the way he prescribes. We either do things God’s way, or all that we call worship and service to the Lord is but will worship and a vain show of religion.
In these four chapters, God the Holy Spirit tells us how the tabernacle was actually constructed by the children of Israel under the direction of Bezaleel and Aholiab. We have seen in the earlier chapters of Exodus what the Lord revealed to Moses in the mount and how Moses conveyed God’s revelation to his people. There is no need to go over all the types again; but these chapters are not redundant repetitions. They were not written just to fill up space. These chapters, like all the Book of God, “were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
Remember, the tabernacle in the wilderness was intended by God to portray and typify the person and work of Christ, the redemption and salvation of God’s elect by Christ’s obedience unto death by Christ’s righteousness and satisfaction, and the whole Church of God, built by Christ and upon Christ, as one habitation of God through the Spirit.
The boards of shittim wood overlaid with gold could not be set in their place except in the divinely prescribed order. Those boards represented sinners saved by grace, surrounding the mercy-seat, around the throne of God. The boards all stood upright, fixed upon sockets of silver made from the atonement money given in the numbering of Israel, the atonement “wherein ye stand.” Each board had two sockets: righteousness and satisfaction. The boards were all coupled together. They were held in place by the bars surrounding them, which appear to represent the attributes and promises of God. They were all shot through with the middle bar, which no one could see but the one who put it through them. That middle bar, I think, represents “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
What a picture of devotion and generosity we have before us! These men and women and their rulers, all the children of Israel, are here held before us as examples of consecration to God in performing the work of the sanctuary. No effort was needed to move the hearts of the people to give. No appeals were made. No impressive arguments were given. Nothing was promised. Nothing was threatened.
Oh! no; their “hearts stirred them up.” The streams of voluntary devotion flowed from within. “Rulers,” “men,” “women” — all felt it to be their sweet privilege to give to the Lord, not with a narrow heart or niggardly hand, but after such a princely fashion that Bezaleel and Aholiab told Moses that they had enough and too much.
Not only did the children of Israel give generously with open hearts and open hands, their obedience was implicit. They did everything exactly as the Lord commanded Moses (Exodus 39:42-43). We read “according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work. And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.”
The Lord God had given the minute, detailed instructions concerning the entire work of the tabernacle. Every pin, every socket, every loop, every buckle was to be made exactly as God said. There was no room for man’s vote, man’s reason, or man’s common sense. Jehovah did not give a general outline and leave it for the children of Israel, or even Bezaleel, to fill in the details. He left no place for any man to enter an opinion, let alone a regulation. None! — “See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount” (Exodus 25:40; 26:30; Hebrews 8:5).
This left no room for human device. If man had been allowed to make a single pin, that pin would have been made wrong and out of place in the tabernacle of God. We see what man’s “graving tool” produces in Exodus 32. There is no place for it in the worship and service of God!
In this matter, the children of Israel did just what they were told, nothing more and nothing less. God the Spirit constrained them to do exactly as they were instructed, that we might have in their obedience an example to follow. There are many things in the history of Israel we must earnestly seek to avoid: their impatient murmurings, their legal vows, and their idolatry. But that which is before us here in their giving and in their obedience is utterly exemplary. Blessed are they who follow the example.
The tabernacle was, in all respects, according to the divine pattern, and therefore it could be filled with the divine glory. There is a volume of instruction in this. We are too prone to regard the Word of God as insufficient for the most minute details connected with his worship and service. This is a great mistake, a mistake which has proved the source of much evil and great errors in the professing church. The Word of God alone is and must be our only rule of faith and practice. It is sufficient for everything in doctrine and practice. It is our only rule of faith and practice in the worship and service of our God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Look at the givers. Those who brought the gifts were all the congregation of the children of Israel: men, women, and rulers, young and old, rich and poor, the well-known and the unknown. They were God’s chosen, covenant people, his redeemed, a people to whom the Lord God revealed himself in saving grace. They were a people willingly obedient to the Lord.
Bezaleel and Aholiab were the men who were appointed by God to use the things the children of Israel brought for the service of God. These two men, while typical of the Lord Jesus, also represent God’s servants, pastors and gospel preachers, appointed by the Lord to be overseers in his house.
They were filled with the Spirit of God (Exodus 35:31). They were specifically gifted of God with wisdom and understanding to perform the work. God put it in their heart to do the work (Exodus 35:34). The Lord made it obvious to all Israel that they were the men he had chosen for the work. They were truly the servants of God. They wanted nothing but to serve him as he had ordained. And when they had all that they needed to do the work, they refused to take any more!
There is much to be learned from the gifts themselves, the gifts the children of Israel brought, the gifts God received and used for his glory.
The gifts varied greatly: gold and oil, silver and spices, precious stones and wool, brass and goats’ hair, wool and linen, dyes for blue and purple and scarlet, and onyx stones. The gifts all came from people with willing hearts, happy to give; from people who knew that what they brought to the Lord was not theirs, but his. (Exodus 35:5, 21)
The Word of God supplies us with an abundance of instruction about this matter of giving. All of 1st Corinthians 9 and 2nd Corinthians chapters 8-9 are taken up with this subject. But there are no commands given to the people of God anywhere in the New Testament about how much we are to give, when we are to give, or where we are to give. Tithing and all systems like it are totally foreign to the New Testament. Giving, like all other acts of worship, is an act of faith and grace. It must be free and voluntary, or it is unacceptable. However, there are some plain, simple guidelines laid down in the Scriptures for us to follow. Here are ten things revealed in the New Testament about giving:
1. Our giving should be planned (2 Corinthians 9:7).
2. Our giving must be free, voluntary, unconstrained (2 Corinthians 9:7).
3. Our giving must be motivated by love and gratitude towards Christ (2 Corinthians 8:7-9; 9:7).
4. Our giving must arise from a willing heart (2 Corinthians 8:12; 9:7).
5. Every believer should give to the work of the gospel according to his personal ability (1 Corinthians 9:7; 16:2).
6. Every believer should give a portion of his goods for the cause of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:7; 16:2).
7. Our gifts for the gospel should be liberal and sacrificial (Mark 12:41-44; 2 Corinthians 9:5-6, 7).
8. We are to give as unto the Lord (Matthew 6:1-5).
9. This kind of giving is well-pleasing to God (2 Corinthians 9:5-6, 7; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16).
10. If we are willing to give, God will supply us with the ability to give (Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:7, 10; Philippians 4:19).
Because the children of Israel were stirred up in their hearts by the Spirit of God, stirred up by the knowledge of what was to be represented in the tabernacle, the priesthood, the sacrifice, and the services of the sanctuary, they devoted themselves to doing the work, giving whatever and all that was needed. — “The stuff they had was sufficient for the work” (36:7). And…
“Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they.” (Exodus 39:32)
“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34-35)