Day 26--Of Jewels and Linen and Gold--"A Space for God"
January 26, 2021, 9:40 AM

Day 26 Exodus 35:1 – 40:38

I do not have a crafty bone in my body. I am unable to carve, to paint, to draw, to bedazzle, to weave, to decorate. And so I loved this day’s readings because it spoke to me of a time that seemed nearly perfect in the offering of gifts of all sorts, and the work of the community to build and to bring together an entire people group.

Today’s readings told me that all gifts were accepted in some way. If there was a piece of acacia wood that might be useful, it was brought and used. If people had an abundance of bronze or gold, it was brought. And the spirit of generosity and obedience to God’s plans was so enmeshed in the community that Moses actually had to STOP people from bringing more gifts because “the people were bringing much more than enough.” (36:5). I’m a scriptural swooner (that means certain verses make my heart sing more than others), and this was swoon-worthy to me. I know it did not indicate perfection in the Israelites, or a smooth journey from that point forward, but it became a touchstone place, both literally and figuratively, that brought the people together.

Imagine the stories around the campfires: “Yes, I dyed the wool a deep blue until my hands turned that same color and I could not wash it off for weeks!!” said one woman whose gift was dyeing fabric and threads. Another man said “I had no idea why I was carrying so much oil for this trip—far more than I could use for my own family! Then Moses called for oil, and I knew why I had brought it. With this oil, I can glorify the LORD. My gift is a part of this tabernacle. My gift has been received by God.” And then a child speaks “My father let me carry the gems we had sewn into the hems of our garments, gems that we took when we left Egypt. Who needs gems in the desert? Then Moses called out, and we cut the gems from our clothing and I carried them, an offering to the LORD, all of them clinking together and carrying color like the sun, like the rainbow promised to Noah.”

Stories, lived and then retold, bind the people to each other, and to the call of God and the covenant with God that created community from that time forward for all of time. In fact, these stories still bind God’s people together today, as they are binding us even in the retelling.

I underlined these verse, praying for this spirit in my own life:
“Let whoever is of a generous heart bring the LORD’s offering” (35:5)
“And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing,” (35:21)
“So they came, all who were of a willing heart, and they brought…” (35:22)
“The people are bringing much more than enough” (36:5) I know I already put this verse in the blog, but oh how I love this vision!!!

Ultimately the people are blessed by their generosity and their hard work. And the result of all this work, conviction, obedience and generosity? “The glory of the LORD filled the temple” (40: 34) This is a high point in the book of The Exodus as it draws to an end, and we should dwell here ourselves.

Everything we read about today came out from the people themselves, and it created blessed community, a place where God himself could be with his people. Imagine for just a moment the feeling of a gift given, a job well done, a project completed—not for our glory, but for God’s. Chapter 36 refers several times to the ‘freewill offering’ of the people, which means they gave with love, they gave with no strings attached, they gave because they had an abundance entrusted to them by God, and they cheerfully returned what was God’s to God.

I want so much to be like the Israelites at this moment of their journey. I want to be stirred, to be generous, to be a part of something that honors God. And the reality is that we are all a part of that vision in some way. Today I will pray about how generosity in my life can bring honor to the God I love and serve.

 

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others,

ML

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