Summary: This is a sermon on total stewardship of life as seen through the abundance of giving for the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness.
“Whosoever Is of a Willing Heart”
Over the past few weeks you have received a series of three letters from the Long Range Planning and Building Committee regarding today, as a special day, in which we hope to be able to eliminate our present indebtedness and move forward into our building program. The committee has, in each letter, asked you to pray about what you feel the Lord might have you to do in the way of giving, and have asked not that we give equal gifts, but that we all make equal sacrifice. It has always been the belief of the committee that we can reach this goal to the glory of the Lord, and rid ourselves of old debt and not have to incorporate it into a new loan on the proposed building.
Someone recently approached me with the idea that this elimination of debt should be a matter of serious prayer in which we cry out to the Lord for a miraculous provision. I strongly disagree! Now that I have your attention; let me explain.
I am reminded of a story told by Tony Campolo regarding an invitation to speak at a woman’s conference. Before the president of the conference introduced him as their guest speaker, she read a very moving letter from a missionary who was calling out for help in response to a great need on the mission field that required a sum of $4,000.00.
The president of the conference then turned to Tony Campolo and asked him if he would pray that God would provide the resources to meet this need! Tony Campolo, who is a very outspoken man, said, “No! I won’t pray for the need to be met. I believe that God has already provided the resources, and all we have to do is give. Then, he challenged each woman in the room to follow his lead, and put every bit of cash they had with them on the table.
To make a long story, short: the result was that more than the $4,000.00 needed was collected that day, and the lesson learned was this: God always supplies where there is need; and, He supplies through those to whom He has given to hold in trust. The key to the need being met is simply that the people must have a willing heart.
It has been said: “Where God guides He provides!” Exodus chapter 36 is a testament of that truth. It all centers around the building of the tabernacle as a house of habitation for God in the wilderness. The tabernacle was the most important religious shrine of Israel before the building of the Temple of Solomon in the city of Jerusalem. It was a portable tent structure that was always placed in the midst of the camp as a symbol of God’s presence in the center of the lives of the people of Israel. The entire tabernacle was completed in seven months, which would seem as though it were a long time for the making of a tent. However, the ornate ness of all that was involved in the frame structure, as well as the dressings and furnishings was unbelievable to the point that it almost staggers the imagination; and the construction cost was phenomenal; but as we will see, it didn’t require a thirty year mortgage and a lot of begging and borrowing for the project to be completed because God’s people gave from a willing heart.
For just a moment, let’s look at Exodus 35. The Lord God has given to Moses commandments concerning the building of the tabernacle. In verses 4-9 we read: “And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children Israel saying, This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying: Take from among you an offering to the Lord, whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord, gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen and goats hair; rams skins died red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.”
Then in verses 20-22 we read: “And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him up, and everyone whose spirit made him willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all of its service, and for the holy garments. And they came both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought ear rings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is everyman who made an offering of gold to the Lord.”