“So the people were restrained from bringing.”
Jehovah had spoken unto Moses, saying, 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.
And then followed a catalog of all the precious things which the Lord desired.
And the purpose which Jehovah had with all these offerings is stated at the end of the catalog: “And let them make. Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”
Relative that sanctuary it is well that you read Hebrews 8, 9. There you read that Moses was shown a pattern of heavenly things, and according to that pattern he had to build a sanctuary where the Lord might dwell among His people. This last clause also tells us what the “heavenly things” are. They are the things of God’s eternal love and friendship for Israel of the ages, for His perfect and glorious church.
So the sanctuary was the visible manifestation of the invisible covenant love of God. And Moses had to build it.
But he had no means for this gigantic task.
And therefore we read, as I have transcribed above, that God gave commandment to Moses to have it proclaimed throughout the camp of the Israelites that God wished His people to bring unto Him gold, silver, precious stones, brass, purple, blue, fine linen, cunning work, badgers’ skins, rams’ skins, etc.
And what was the result?
This: they brought so much that the workmen came to Moses and said: The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make.
And Moses gave commandment and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.
You have noted that this last part is a direct quotation.
What shall we more say?
The effect upon us is overwhelming.”
Imagine: the people of God were restrained from giving for the work of the sanctuary!
If I might translate the facts and circumstances in modern language, we would see the spectacle of an announcement in the Sunday bulletin: People of God! At the last counting it was revealed that you gave too much for the service of the work. And so we will have to restrain you from giving any more. It would not do for your consistory to open a bank where we might store this great surplus. And so, until further notice, please, do not give anymore.
And do not say at this juncture that we may not translate the facts alluded to in our modern language; that the facts of Exodus and the facts of our church life are two entities and not one and the same revelation of Jehovah, for then you reveal utter ignorance of the fact that the service of the work of the sanctuary under Israel, and the service of the work today in our churches is one and the same thing, only more so.
More so, because the fulfillment of the tabernacle has come, and that is Jesus.
Now, Jesus and the tabernacle tell the same wonderful story: God stretches the canopy of His everlasting Home above our heads. The difference is that with Moses it was just a pattern of heavenly things, but with us it is the fulfillment of these heavenly things. The heavenly things are the love of God and His everlasting mercy in Jesus Christ. Well, He came, suffered, died and rose again, and went to heaven to prepare a place for us in the heavenly tabernacle.
And what we have on earth instead of Moses’ tabernacle is the preaching of the gospel, which includes Mission endeavor, as well as the study of theology, the service of prayer and adoration, the rites of baptism and the Lord’s holy supper, and the service of the love of God toward the poor.
For that you must have buildings, etc.
And all that service of the work costs money.
And even as in the Old Testament, so also now, God causes it be proclaimed throughout the camp, that we must offer for the service of the work. Every church has its budget.
Notice: God wants to reveal His everlasting love for you my brother! God wants to show how He takes you under the shadow of His roof in the heavenly Home, my sister!
And He says: Now, my children, you may help me in this revelation! You may help me in bringing money for this manifestation of my covenant!
God could have done it otherwise. There are thousands of ways to bring the sons and daughters to glory.
But God said to Israel: Bring me the stuff for the making of the sanctuary. And in the New Testament: Bring me the stuff necessary for the preaching of my Christ! Both are the service of the work of God.
I may help to reveal the love of God!
Yes, Jesus must be preached!
He must be preached for yourself, for your neighbor, and for your generations following.
And we are allowed to do all that through the paying of the budget. Each may give according as the Lord has blessed him or her. Even the children may bring their nickels and dimes to the catechism classes, Sunday Schools, and Young People’s societies.
What unspeakable blessing there is in the paying of the budget!
Conversely, how terrible a condemnation when we say with our refusal to pay our share of the cast of the sanctuary: As far as I am concerned, let God be silent anent His everlasting love in Jesus.
Or that you say: Alright! give me ten cents’ worth! When you could give dollars!
All this brings me to the final thought: the possibility to do according to the commandment to bring for the service of the work.
Let us confess it from the heart: no one is willing to bring the stuff for the service of the sanctuary.
Oh yes, we will bring the stuff necessary for the sanctuary of man! Many such sanctuaries are built throughout the ages. Among all the heathens you find costly temples and beautiful ceremonies, and some not so beautiful, but ugly and horrible. To mention one: the fiery mouth of Moloch, through which went the little babes for a sacrifice and atonement. But man has always been willing to offer for a sanctuary for man. Cathedrals were built by man and for man. Paul would say of them: Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; (but) not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
The father of all such will worship is Cain, who indeed brought a sacrifice, but it was not in any honor. He refused to bring the stuff for the service of the work of God. What is the work of God? The bringing in of the first begotten into the world, Jesus Christ the righteous. And therefore, at that early age of Cain, it was the bringing of a bleeding lamb. He refused to do that. But he would bring bf the fruit of the land, and thus do as though nothing had happened. He would be the priest of creation and bring the creation to God: his own works: the fruit of the field.
And Cain has had many followers: all manifesting the pride of life! But not the humility of Jesus Christ, nor His heavenly joy in God, the God of our salvation.
What then? How is it possible to bring the stuff for the service of the work?
Listen to what God said to MOSES: . . . . that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
Later, much later we listen to David: “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of Thee, and of thine own have we given Thee . . . . O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of Thy people, and prepare their heart unto Thee.”
And still later we listen to Paul: “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, not according to what he hath not.”
Oh yes, the willing heart and the willing mind!
And their origin is God, for we work out our own salvation, also in giving to the service of the work, for it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.
It is not of him that willeth, not of him that runneth but of God that sheweth mercy.
It is wrong to give grudgingly, or of necessity. It were better you had not given at all. Forsooth, such sin is the lesser sin.
Grudgingly: are you there again? Shall there ever be an. end of giving to the causes of God? Church, theological school, emeritus fund, mission endeavor, needy churches, needy students, Christian school, and what have you? I am getting so weary of giving to God! Then you give grudgingly. (I should have included the Holland Home, Pine Rest and the Christian Psychopathic Hospital and Children’s Retreat, Bethesda, etc. for that belongs very really to the service of the work. Ai also the poor fund every Sabbath.) You give grudgingly when you would much rather keep all that money at home, warmly in your pocket.
Of necessity: when you give because you cannot very well refuse to give: your name and position in the church and the community would suffer. There is an unholy constraint in your giving when you give out of necessity. And also such giving is doomed.
But of a willing heart and mind, for God loveth the cheerful giver.
The cheerful heart is the gift of God.
Thank Him if you discover such a cheerful hearth within you.
Money given to God is placed on everlasting interest. Even a glass of water given to the thirsty in the name of a disciple will have its reward.
Money given to God acquires a fruit that is unspeakable.
And you do not have to wait until you are in heaven where our budgets are kept in God’s bookkeeping.
You have it here and now whenever you place your envelop in the basket, the hallowed basket.
Listen to your heart when next you drop the dollars in that basket!
Do you then hear heaven’s song of salvation?
If we all gave in such spirit, there would soon be too much, too much for God!