Incredible Charity

for a reason.

Exodus 39:32-42 (ESV)

Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did. Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses, the tent and all its utensils, its hooks, its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases; the covering of tanned rams' skins and goatskins, and the veil of the screen; the ark of the testimony with its poles and the mercy seat; the table with all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; the lampstand of pure gold and its lamps with the lamps set and all its utensils, and the oil for the light; the golden altar, the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the entrance of the tent; the bronze altar, and its grating of bronze, its poles, and all its utensils; the basin and its stand; the hangings of the court, its pillars, and its bases, and the screen for the gate of the court, its cords, and its pegs; and all the utensils for the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of meeting; the finely worked garments for ministering in the Holy Place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons for their service as priests. According to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the people of Israel had done all the work. And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them.

We tend to think of these Israelites as transparently sinful people who did dumb things like worship a golden calf. In fact, they put us to shame. Notice how quickly this all got done.

This Moses did; according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did. In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. – Exodus 40:16-17 (ESV)

They made the whole thing in a matter of months! Moses had to be impressed. And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, so had they done it. They didn’t just do it fast; they did it to an incredibly high standard. Then Moses blessed them.

These people met the modern definition of homeless; they lived in tents. They had tools so primitive we wouldn’t even recognize them as tools, yet they still made this incredible work of art. Most importantly, they were given great treasure as they left Egypt and then gave it up to construct the tabernacle.

It’s like a homeless person winning the lottery and then giving it all to the church.

You might expect the takeaway to be that we should all seek this level of generosity.

But that’s not it. There’s a deeper lesson. The Israelites seized the opportunity to be a part of something significant. The real takeaway is that vision moves people. We all long to make a difference. People typically hit a “mid-life crisis” when they realize that they’ll never be president, or rich, or famous. Give them a chance to make a difference and they’ll drop everything to sign up.

But Solomon had it all: fame, wealth, power and saw that they meant nothing. Then he wrote Ecclesiastes.

In the end, only the things of God matter. Everything else is meaningless.

The weekly study guides, which include all six devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.