Today we will begin looked at the specific instructions given to Moses. The setting is this: Moses has gone up on Mount Sinai, where he spends 40 days and 40 nights in the presence of the Lord. And the first recorded thing that God says to Moses is to ask the people to bring an offering! But not a mandatory offering, as so many of the early offerings were. This offering was a free-will offering: "Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give." (Exodus 25:1-2 NIV)
The answer is given a few verses later: "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them." (Exodus 25:8 NIV)
Basically God was asking the people for a freewill offering to be used to make a sanctuary for Him!
But wait. Did you understand the full meaning of what God is saying here?
Just this: God wants to dwell among us, but He will not impose Himself upon us. He wants us to want His presence as much as He wants to give it! God is seeking a bond here! Not a "thou shalt not" kind of relationship, but a "I want to know you and I want you to want to know me" kind of an association! The temple God wants to build in our hearts must also be one that we want to be there! It means that in order for this temple to be built, we must give of ourselves! It means that God only wants to reside in the piece of our hearts that we freely give to Him!
So how do we go about giving this freewill offering so that God's presence can be felt more and more strongly in our lives?
The answer lies in the list of things that God instruction Moses to ask the people to give: "gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats' hair; ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate." (Exod 25:3-7, NKJV)
Don't worry if you don't have any gold or silver, spices or goats' hair! When we look at the things God asked Israel to give, we find that they fall into four distinct categories: precious things, coverings, spices, and wood. Let's take a look at how these categories can be manifested in our lives today:
1. Precious Things: What is precious to us? Our time, money, possessions, children, loved ones, etc! Basically, whatever it is we hold on to, whatever it is that we place at a higher value than God Himself falls in this category and must be given to God as a free-will offering!
2. Coverings: Isn't it true that we try to cover over the stains in our lives? It is always someone else's fault, or we lie or cheat our way out of the bad things we've done. But these aren't true coverings at all. Only Jesus' precious blood can really cover our stains! God asks us to freely give Him everything that we try to hide behind.
3. Spices: This category refers to the things that "spice up" our lives, the things that we rely on for happiness. But only God can give us true happiness. Only He can really "spice things up" for us. God asks us to give Him the things that we try to use to "spice up" our lives, for only when we surrender these to Him can our lives truly find the "spice" we crave!
4. Wood: I'm sure that there are many different things that wood may represent, but the Bible often speaks of wood as the substance that idols are made of (see Exodus 22:5). Friends, before God can truly live in our hearts, we have to surrender our other 'idols', everything in our lives that we see as more important than Him!
So why would God want us to freely give Him these things? Because these are the things that can so easily come in the way of Him truly filling our lives, that can prevent His Spirit from truly abiding in us and putting to work the life-giving changes that will make us truly "shine" for Him!
Friends, let's remember that God wants to have a relationship with us, but we have to give Him the room. We have to hand over to Him all that is precious to us, all the things we rely on to cover our stains, to spice up our life, and all the things that are more important to us than God! God is truly a jealous God (see Isaiah 44). He wants to be our everything.
Because He knows that it's only when He truly is our "everything" that we can be completely happy!
Got any presents you'd like to surrender to the Lord today? I do. A ton of spice, several coverings, a few "precious things", and maybe an armload of wood as well!
Please join us next week for Wilderness Instruction, Part 3: An Exact Copy.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire "Wilderness Instructions" mini-series, please click here.)