A picture of what good giving looks like (from Exodus 25:1-2, 35:20-21, 36:3-7):
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me…Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.
- Recently freed from the Egyptians, God tells Moses that He is moving into the neighborhood to dwell among His people.
- The people live in tents and Yahweh will humbly live in a tent as well. So they are to build him a home (tabernacle).
- Who will fund the work of building God’s house? God’s people will.
- How will they fund the work? Through the free-will contributions of the people (From every man whose heart moves him).
- No gimmicks. No pressuring. No take-out-your-wallets-we’re-not-leaving-this-place-until-everyone-gives. All the people departed from the presence of Moses. They went home. They were freed to think about it, pray about it, and give as their hearts moved them.
And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments…And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.
- The people responded with abundant, overwhelming, unbelievable generosity
- Consider the phrases associated with their giving:
- They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning…
- The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us…
- Moses gave command…Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution…
- So the people were restrained from bringing …
- Think about that. The people gave so much that they had to be restrained from giving anymore.
Now, what on earth could have caused them to give like this?
- Law? Couldn’t be. There was no law given. There was no percentage commanded. There was nothing to obey. Everyone was free to give if they wanted to give and what they wanted to give.
- Fear? Couldn’t be. There was no threat of punishment. If God called for this offering while they were still slaves in Egypt, then perhaps fear could have been a motivation. People would have figured, “If we don’t give, God will punish us. He won’t bless us. He won’t set us free and we’ll be slaves forever.” But without them giving a dime, God blessed them, punished their enemies, and set them free.
- Morality? Couldn’t be. It might be tempting to think that these were just especially good and noble people whose morality was so exemplary that we could never be like them. Not so. These were people that worshipped idols in Egypt, doubted by the Red Sea, and pulled off the hat trick of grumbling, murmuring and quarreling in the wilderness. They had no goodness or moral superiority to boast of.
- Gospel! Absolutely. What moved these people to give freely and generously? The gospel! They were slaves in Egypt. Without lifting a finger, let alone a sword or spear, through no effort or power of their own, God walked them out of the most powerful nation in the world. Then they were pinned down with a raging Sea in front of them and a raging army barreling down on them. And God split the Sea so that they crossed on dry ground and danced on the other side while the bodies of their enemies washed up on shore. They had no food or drink and God rained down bread and poured forth water from rocks.
And how did they thank God for His undeserved favor and blessings? They built a golden calf and worshipped it, crediting the idol with their salvation. And even still, God showed mercy. Rather than rejecting them, He was going to move in with them. That was good news! And so when Moses said, “We need to give towards building God’s house” the people gave. Freely. Joyfully. Generously.
And to think, the good news is better, in every conceivable way, for us who live in light of Jesus. So just imagine what good giving could look like now.