Before Anyone Gave

Bill Brinkworth

After fleeing Egyptian slavery, one of biggest accomplishments of Israel, was the building of theTabernacle. This portable tent was a God-designed place of worship for the over two million refugees seeking a new land God had promised them.

All gave to support this monumental task that was to be laden with gold, silver, woven materials, and other materials (Exodus 35:5-19). However, giving did not come naturally to these people. Before they would give, a change had to be made in their hearts.

Their leader, Moses, gathered the people together and pronounced that they would head to a new land of great wealth and opportunity, but God would not be leading them. Moses highlighted their sin as a reason for God’s not leading them. He said they were a “stiffnecked people” (Ex. 33:3, 5, 34:9).

Their stubbornness and hard-heartedness cost them God’s protection, provision, and other blessings. They immediately knew what it was that angered God so; it was their clinging to ornaments (jewelry) they had brought with them from their bondage in Egypt. What in particular about their personal adornments was sin is not clear. The decorations were somehow tied to Egyptian idolatry and false worship.

It was God that had had them gather these treasures from Egypt in the first place for His pre-known purpose of decorating the Tabernacle. Most likely the pagan etchings and engravings on the rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces depicted idolatrous images they were to flee from; not covet. They removed their jewelry (Ex. 33:4,6), which was a remnant of their ungodly past. The realization that they were still hanging on to the old world and life they had been delivered from broke their hearts (they “mourned” – Ex. 33:4). It was their turning from their sin, that changed their heart about giving. These “treasures” of ungodliness lost their luster and value. Those things became only a tool to glorify God.

People then gave so willingly that Moses did what every pastor dreams of doing; he commanded Israel to stop giving as what they had given was “sufficient” (Ex. 36: 5-7) for the task God had for them. It is also recorded that they not only gave the valuables they were allowed to have while in Egypt, but many gave themselves to the task of building the place of worship.

This great change in heart was all because of their realization of their sin and desire to flee from its clutching grasp on their lives. When they truly repented, their giving and service to the Lord was given more willingly (Ex. 35:21, 22, 29). Hearts were changed as their selfish priorities changed. They were more united, because they now had one important goal; and they accomplished what God had for them to do.

Too many today also have barriers in their lives that will keep them from living for God and serving Him. They may have moments of “religious” activity, but down deep in their lives there is a missing relationship between them and the Lord. It may be the pull on their lives of coveting, idolatry, dishonesty, or another sin.

Unless sin is recognized, confessed, and repented of they will not have the Lord’s leading in their lives. Not until they too get to the place Israel found themselves where they grieved over the waywardness from obedience to God will anything change. It is never too late to have the right change of heart! It will change many things, including one’s giving. 

“The manner of giving is worth more than the gift." — Corneille

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