The Material Used In The Tabernacle And How It Was Obtained

(Exodus 25:1-8; 35:4-39; 2 Cor. 8:12).

When God told Moses about the making of the Tabernacle, and showed him the pattern of it, he would at once see what a great amount of gold, silver, brass, etc., would be required. How is it all to be gotten? It would never occur to him to consult with Aaron as to the practicability of training some of their best singers, and holding sacred concerts, charging half a shekel admission. No that would not do, for God had said, “Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Only those whom He has redeemed can furnish the material for the Tabernacle. Before God will accept anything from man, man must first accept God’s great gift, His Son.

Nor could we think of Moses suggesting to Aaron that each man should be taxed according to his ability to give. That would be just as repugnant to God as raising money by entertaining the heathen of the land through which they passed, to get the necessary gold and silver. No, God did not say, “Command them that they make, etc.,” but, “Let them make,” etc. Before this, and ere God had said anything about the Tabernacle, as they stood by the shores of the Red Sea, and saw the great salvation God had wrought, and His judgment on their enemies, they sang His praises and vowed they would “prepare Him an habitation” (Ex. 15:2). Now they are just longing to be at it, and God says, “Let them make me a sanctuary.”

Just as God will not have the contributions of the people of the land go into the Tabernacle. Neither will He have aught that is exacted in a legal way from His own. The Tabernacle is to furnish a bright picture of the grace which says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).

Surely the methods for obtaining means to carry on the work of building God’s spiritual house now, cannot be a matter of indifference to God, who was so particular about the making of what was just a type. It is not His mind that the unsaved should be asked for a penny. Nor is it His mind that His own should be taxed, or give grudgingly. In reading those passages we have had, especially chap, 35, you have noticed how often the words, “willing heart,” and “willing offering” occurs. It was the heart which determined the value of the offering to God, not its intrinsic worth. The board of shittim wood from the poor man, or the ram’s skin from the poor woman, had the same acceptance from God, as the wedge of gold from the man of wealth. We have a fine illustration of this in Luke 21:1-4. Our Lord was standing over against the treasury, and noticed the rich men casting in their gifts. A poor woman came along and cast in two mites, which make one farthing. Had a priest been looking on when that tiny gift was put in, he would have shown her scant courtesy. What would her little gift do towards maintaining that great temple and the priesthood? But He who was able to weigh the motives which prompted that gift, tells us what He thought of it. “This poor widow hath cast in more than they all.” The rich had lots more behind, but she “cast in all the living that she had.” She could have given one of the mites, but as she thought of the goodness of God to her, she felt constrained to give all. It was the heart that made the gift large. “If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Cor. 8:12).

And at the Judgment Seat of Christ only what is given, as if it were seen and known to God alone, will bring reward. It is said that an old Scotchman, absorbed in thought, found himself unprepared when the elder presented the collection plate in the church, and so hastily putting his hand into his pocket, he brought out what he thought was a penny and dropped it into the plate, when to his surprise he saw that it was a half crown. As he put his hand out to change it for a penny, the old elder said: “Ye maunna do that.” So with an air of resignation, the old man replied: “Aweel God will gie me credit for it.” “Nae, God will only gie ye credit for the penny,” the elder replied.

As we think of the great quantity of gold and silver that was used in the Tabernacle, the question may arise; Where did Israel get it all. We shall turn to some scriptures which have been somewhat difficult for many of the Lord’s people to understand. In Ex. 3:22, and 11:2, the people are told to borrow of the Egyptians, jewels of silver and jewels of gold. And in 12:35 we read that they borrowed these things. In verse 36 it is said, “The Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. And they spoiled the Egyptians.” (R.V.). The word “borrow” in all the verses, should be “ask.” Israel had served Egypt without pay, and now God, as the moral governor of the world, is going to right the wrongs of His people, and when they asked these things, the Egyptians were very glad to let them have them, and so perhaps get some respite from the plagues that were upon them.

These ornaments were like the wages of the people, and they can express their gratitude to God by giving them as freewell offerings for the work of the Tabernacle. And that this way was a great success, is seen by the proclamation which Moses made in chap, 36:6 for the people brought too much, verse 37.

How much that is called work for the Lord would have to be abandoned if the unsaved were to refuse to contribute, and nothing but freewill offerings taken from Christians. But does work which is carried on otherwise, bring any glory to God? If this scriptural way were adhered to, it is safe to say that no genuine work of God would suffer. The very common practice, of begging money from the world, to carry on religious work is shameful, and ought to make Christians blush. Nor is the constant dunning at believers much better. Better aim at the heart than at the pocket book. When the heart is right practical fellowship with God, in His work, will be a pleasure. A very old Christian was once asked, how she managed to get to the meetings so often, seeing that she had so far to come. Her reply was, “My hert gangs first and my feet follow.” If Christ has our hearts, He has all, and if He has not our hearts, He does not want anything else we have.