For the last two years I’ve been preaching from the book of Exodus and we’ve come almost to the end. Since some of the final chapters contain material that is almost identical to earlier chapters (namely, the details of the tabernacle and its accoutrements), I will skip to the end and preach from chapter 40 this coming Sunday. So one more sermon from Exodus. My plan is next to preach a series of sermons on how God applies to us the saving work of Christ (what is called the “ordo salutis”: calling, faith, justification, etc.), then to move to the Gospel of Luke. I trust the Lord has blessed our time in Exodus, and I pray we’ve come to see more clearly how all of Scripture, including the Old Testament, reveals to us Jesus Christ and his saving grace.
This past Sunday morning I preached from Exodus 35:30 – 36:7. This passage, and the earlier part of chapter 35, shows how the Israelites committed themselves with tremendous zeal both to build the tabernacle according to God’s instructions and to provide all the necessary materials. I pointed out that, unlike so much of what we’ve seen from the Israelites in the wilderness (complaining, unbelief, idolatry, and so on), here is a very positive example for us to follow as the people of God today. The Israelites devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the task of building the tabernacle, and their giving was so generous that Moses finally had to tell them to stop donating! (36:6).
Christ calls us as his people to engage in the work of building the greater tabernacle, that is, the Church or the Body of Christ. Though Christ alone is the sovereign builder of his Church (Matthew 16:18), yet he works through his redeemed people to whom he gives gifts for service (Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7). And Christ provides the necessary resources for advancing his Kingdom through the giving of believers (2 Corinthians 8, 9).
The Israelites here show us the way we should serve and give – with zeal and generosity. “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Romans 12:11). “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
But how do we have come to have such a heart for service and giving? The answer is to remember how Christ has served us and how he gave up all for us. It’s a staggering thought, but in his life, suffering, and death, Jesus was our servant for our salvation (Mark 10:45). How can we not serve with gladness the Lord who served us in this way? And in his incarnation, by giving up his divine prerogatives and the joys and bliss of heaven (though he was never anything less than fully God), he impoverished himself that we might be rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Is any sacrifice of giving too much to honor such a Savior?
The Israelites obeyed the Lord’s command to build the tabernacle with joyful and generous hearts because they knew God had been gracious to them. In the same way, the more our hearts are filled with the joy of God’s grace to us in Christ, the more we’ll follow their example to serve and give with glad hearts.
Soli Deo Gloria!