Lord, how beautiful it is to see the church working in unison.
Read EXODUS 35:30—36:7
30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers. 36 1 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.”
2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. 3 They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. 4 So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing 5 and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.”
6 Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, 7 because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.
New International Version (NIV)
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“For we are God’s fellow-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9).
How different the people are now from the previous behavior of “running wild… out of control” (Exod. 32:25). Now they are all “willing” (Exod. 35:5,216–29; 36:2), working together to supply material and skills to make the tabernacle and its furnishings beautiful. Just as “and God said” in the Genesis account of creation is followed by “it was so,” so all “the Lord said to Moses” regarding the tabernacle (Exod. 25–31) is obeyed in detail (Exod. 35–40). In contrast to their previous disobedience, now all do “as the Lord commanded” (36:1,5; 25 times in Exod. 35–40).
Today’s reading tells how the call for “willing” gifts and “skilled” workers (Exod. 25:1–7; 31:1–11; 35:4–19) is answered in differentiated abundance. Gratitude is evident, following the covenant renewal—a response duplicated centuries later in Christ’s comparison of an ungracious host and the woman who “poured perfume on my feet” and in Paul’s commendation of the generous Macedonian churches (Luke 7:36–50; 2 Cor. 8:1–5).
Skilled workers are numerous: Bezalel (35:30–33) and Oholiab share the teaching chores (34), and immediately they encounter a great diversity of “skilled workers and designers” (35). All are involved together (36:1,2), but they could not work without the over-abundance and variety of material gifts, brought by “the people” (3–7). Nor is it just human effort (no one is self-made): five times we are told the Lord gives the skill or ability (35:31,34,35; 36:1,2), requiring the workers’ willingness to use those skills to his glory (36:2).
Even more so today, the life of the church (and that includes material aspects) most effectively glorifies God when all willingly use God-given skills with a diversity of gifts, working together. Some may have a particular “ability [and so responsibility] to teach others” (35:34), but all are called to be “willing to come and do the work” (36:2), building a beautiful “sanctuary” (holy place).
What joy when there is “more than enough” (5)!
What are the God-given skills and resources that you are using, along with others, to make a beautiful dwelling?
Lord, reveal to me the gift that You have placed within me and use it to build Your kingdom.