Thursday, October 27, 2011

Please Don’t Give (Exodus 36:6)

When did people give so much they had to be told to stop? When the tabernacle was being constructed (Exodus 36:6)

In the era between the Exodus and the conquest of the Promised Land, the Israelites were nomads. In the interim, God outlined specific plans as to the creation of a tabernacle, a portable representation of the divine presence (Exodus 25:9; Acts 7:44). The Israelites’ God would not merely reign distantly from the heavens but was willing to move with them in their uncertainty in the wilderness.

As with all building projects, this venture needed capital. Amazingly, the Israelites gave so much that Moses actually needed to issue an edict to restrain the giving! (Exodus 36:6)

So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. (Exodus 36:6 NASB)
Over giving was and is a highly unusual problem (and one as pastor I would like to have). Reuven Hammer (b. 1932) quips, “This may be the only instance in the entire history of fund-raising that the campaign was so oversubscribed that it had to be brought to a halt. Never before or after did we have to be told to stop giving (Hammer, Entering Torah: Prefaces to the Weekly Torah Portion, 133).”

Has a religious group ever said no to money? Why did Moses halt the cash flow? Should he have ceased this activity? Could he have not saved the funds for a rainy day? Why did the Israelites give so freely?

The Israelites gave because their hearts were moved to do so (Exodus 35:29). The campaign was successful and the tabernacle was built to specification (Exodus 40:17-19). It was erected exactly one year after leaving Egypt (Exodus 40:17). Throughout much of the preceding year, the Israelites rebelled against Moses (and ostensibly against God), but the building of the tabernacle was one instance where the community united together for a common good.

What projects have you witnessed that united a body of believers? Where do you give? Can you be accused of giving too much?

“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” - II Corinthians 9:6 NASB

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