Bible Reading – Exodus 25
Exodus 25:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
The gold and precious stones that were in the Israelites’ possessions were not something they had long owned. These were things they received from the Egyptians just a few months before as they were rapidly departing the land of their captivity (Exodus 12:33-36). God told them to ask the Egyptians for gold, and now He is asking for Israel to take that which God had blessed them with and to give it back to Him. There are no instructions on how much each should give specifically, but they were to give willingly and from their heart. It is a tremendous thing to note that after Moses came down from the mountain and told these things to Israel, the response was so overwhelming that Moses had to literally tell the people to stop bringing goods (see chapter 36).
I suppose a great number of lessons can be learned from Exodus 21-36. The first truth we should take notice of is that the wealth Israel possessed (ultimately all wealth) was given to them by God, and they were simply stewards of His blessings. How we view and handle finances could drastically change if we viewed everything through the lens of a steward rather than an owner. Wisdom should stem from the realization that finances are not mine to use entirely for my own will. God has a purpose for what He allows us to steward, and we should seek His will concerning finances. Obviously God wants us to use the blessings to take care of our families, but beyond that, prayer and wisdom will help us discern what is it that God wants.
Gratitude, should also dominate our focus. Whether we have little or much, it is God that has blessed us. I could no more take credit for the wealth I have than I could take credit for the parents I was born to. As I didn’t get to choose my parents, I didn’t choose to be born in the US. I could have just as easily been born into a situation like much of the world where financial poverty is a daily reality. Many people reading this will make more money in one month than some families around the world can make in a year or even several years. We do have to put in the work, but the return on the effort, the opportunity, the financial blessings are all made possible by God, and we should be grateful and humbled.
Finally, generosity should be our focus. God did not demand a certain offering from Israel, but it becomes clear throughout the process that the people were very happy to give back to God a portion of what He had blessed them with. A preacher used to say regularly, “God will give through your what He won’t give to you.” God knew what would be needed for the building of the tabernacle, and He provided that and more to the children of Israel. He gave to them, so they would have to give. God was fulfilling His will THROUGH the people. And what a blessing it is that God would allow people to be a part of His will! The opportunity to give financially to the church, to give through the church to missions, and to give to other areas of need (Acts 4:34-35, Acts 20:35, Ephesians 4:28, Proverbs 3:27)is a tremendous reminder both of how much God has blessed us as well as how blessed we are to be a part! It is no coincidence that God blessed the children of Israel just before He asked them to give. He was giving through them, allowing them to be a part in His plan. May we be wise, grateful, and generous stewards as we have been truly blessed!
— Eli Faulds