I will admit, I almost skipped over them. They seemed “unimportant” (as if any piece of Scripture could ever be unimportant). They seemed not-applicable. And my Bible reading plan on the Bible app had even skipped over them. So surely I was excused from reading these monotonous chapters in Exodus filled with the details and specifics of how the Israelites were to build the Tabernacle. Right???
To be fair, it would have been fine for me to follow along with my reading plan, and just read the next chapter it had listed for me to read. This specific plan started in Genesis, and is going through most chapters of the Bible to give an overview of “God’s Epic Plan”. But for some reason I felt like I should just read all of the chapters. So I pushed through and read several chapters filled with things like, ““Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide.” Not the most exhilarating reading, if I am honest. But oh man, I am glad I pushed through, because it lead me chapter 35. And in chapter 35, the Lord used the example of the Israelites to speak a beautiful, timeless truth to me.
The instructions for constructing the Tabernacle are done and now Moses tells them that
“everyone who is willing” should bring things like gold, silver, wood, spices, stones, etc. to be used as materials. Then he says, “all who are skilled among you” can come and do things like put together the tent poles, and overlay things in gold, and make the holy garments, etc. And then we get to Exodus 35:20-29 (the verses that really spoke to me), which says:
“Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord. Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or the other durable leather brought them. Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the Lord, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.”
When we look at these verses we see that not everyone brought or did the same thing.
Not everyone had gold or silver to bring. But those who did have gold or silver, gave it.
Not everyone had gems. But those who did have gems, gave them.
Not everyone had skills to spin yarn. But those who could spin yarn, did it.
Each of them brought what they had and did what they could. They were willing to give of themselves to the Lord, and He used whatever they had. But that’s not just what He wanted from the Israelites. That’s what He wants from us as well. He wants us to give to Him, with a willing heart, whatever we have to give. Not because we have to, but because we get to offer up ourselves to Him as a “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God”, like Romans 12 tells us.
So what about you?
You may not have thousands of dollars to give, but you have skills in website design that you can use to help small ministries get started. That is your offering.
You may not have the ability to go serve at a soup kitchen downtown every week, but you do have the ability to take a meal to an elderly woman down the street each week. That is your offering.
You may not be able to regularly go to another country to care for orphans, but you have $30 a month that you could give to sponsor an orphan and give them the resources they need. That is your offering.
You may not have an extra bedroom in your house that you could use to bring in a foster child who is in need of a loving home, but you do have the ability to bring diapers to an overwhelmed foster mama. That is your offering.
You may not have the knowledge to help someone figure out a treatment plant for their cancer, but you have the time to drive them to their chemo and be there to sit, pray, and talk with them during it. That is your offering.
You may not be able to share the gospel with a whole village who has never heard it, but you are able to go once a week to the local elementary school to teach them the gospel in an after-school club. That is your offering.
You may not be able to go into brothels and rescue girls out of sex-trafficking, but you can use your talent in decorating to help set up a beautiful fundraiser for a ministry that is rescuing girls. That is your offering.
The list is endless. There are so many opportunities to show love to God and to others. And none of us can do it all – but we can all do something. And that “something” is a beautiful offering to the Lord, just like the expensive, aromatic incense that was given to Him in the Tabernacle.
So I pray that you find that “something”, and then willing give it to God, as a way to say “thank you” for the unending grace He has given you. And by doing so, I promise you will experience the richest of joy!
For His glory,