Sabbath Keeping of First Importance. When Moses came down from the mount, he gathered all the people together, and his first word to them was, not about the wonderful design of the sanctuary that God had revealed to him, - no; his first word to them was God's last word to him: "These are the words which the Lord hath commanded, that ye should do them," he said, "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord; whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death." Ex. 35:1,2. There was no trace of compromise in these words from God; they were straight forward and definite. Everyone that defileth the Sabbath "shall surely be put to death," he "shall be cut off from among His people." Ex. 31: 14.
Christ, or Lucifer? Why such a terrible sentence against Sabbath desecration? - Because true Sabbath keeping indicates under whose banner we choose to enlist. Our attitude toward Sabbath observance determines whether we stand under the black banner of the prince of the power of the air, or under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel. When sin entered the heart of Lucifer, it was over the question of rulership. Why should so beautiful and wise and talented an angel as he be deprived of the throne? Why should Jehovah and not he be worshipped? Why should not his name be the seal of the divine law - a sign of his authority? Lucifer determined that it should be. But he could not destroy the eternal law of God, so he substituted a law of his own, in which he stamped his own mark, or seal. On every hand we see the result of his usurped leadership - war with all its horrible results, crime of every sort,disaster by sea, land, and air; sickness, suffering, deep heart sorrow, and at the end grim death. Under which banner must Israel stand? Proper observance of the Sabbath would decide. Disobedience would automatically cut them off from among God's people. Sabbath desecration puts them under Satan's blackbanner. Do we realize the supreme sacredness with which God regards the Sabbath day, the seal of His eternal law? Shall we not more sacredly guard its meaningful hours, not doing our own ways, nor finding our own pleasure, nor speaking our own words? Isa. 58:13.
Only Willing Gifts Accepted. "This is the thing which the Lord commanded,â€ continued Moses. â€œSpeak unto the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take an offering." Ex. 35:4; 25:2, Emphasis supplied. "Devotion to God, and a spirit of sacrifice were the first requisites in preparing a dwelling-place for the Most High." P.P. 345. No unwilling offering for the building of the sanctuary was to be received, for only a willing gift a - gift of love - could fitly represent God's gift to man." God so loved the world that He gave. " John 3:16. In the gift of His Son, God gave all. â€œThe Son of Godâ€¦ loved me, and gave Himself for me." Gal. 2:20. God and Christ gave their all willingly and with heartfelt love. Our gifts to God, to be acceptable, must be of the same spirit. If we do less than give our all for Him, do we really appreciate what He has done for us?
Love, Not the Amount, Is True Giving. The amount has nothing to do with true giving. Of the poor widow who cast in two mites, it is said, she "hath cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury." Why?
Because "all they did cast in of their abundance;" but because of her love and devotion, â€œshe of her want (penury) did cast in all that she had, even all her living." Mark 12:43,44.
A certain church member, when approached to give to the cause of God, once asked: "Must I always be giving?" â€œO, no;â€ was the response; "give only until God stops giving to you." Someone has retold this experience in verse:
â€œWhat! Give again?â€ I asked in dismay, "And must I keep giving and giving alway?"
"Oh, no," said the angel, piercing me through, "Just give till the Father stops giving to you."
A Christian worker, when in attendance at a large meeting where an appeal for missions was made, said, â€œWell, brethren, I have $300.00 in the bank; you may have it all." His wife once said. â€œon his return from a long trip to mission fields, he always comes home 'broke,' and often in debt.â€ The needs of the cause of God had so tugged at his heart strings, that he not only gave all but drew on his future income. Although he owned no home of his own, he did not hesitate to give his all, for he knew that the God whom he served would supply all his "need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phil 4:19.
Like the poor widow and this Christian worker, (we too must cast in our all,) not "grudgingly or of necessity," but cheerfully, because of our sincere love for God and His work. Unless we are willing to do this, our gifts, however large, are not acceptable to God, and they will accomplish little or nothing in His building.
Israel's Response. When Moses presented to the people God's appeal for gifts with which to build the sanctuary, "they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted. " 'They came, both men and women," literally, "the men over and above the women,â€ a phraseology which implies that the women acting a prominent part, presented their offerings first, and then were followed by as many of their male companions as were similarly disposed." J.F.B. Com. The women "brought bracelets, earrings, and rings, and tablets, (margin, girdles), all jewels of gold: and every man that offered, offered an offering of gold." Ex. 35:22. They also brought â€œblue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers' skins,. , silver and brass . . . and shittim wood . . . And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet (yarn, Moffatt) and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' hair. And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate; and spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense . . . a willing offering unto the Lord ... for all manner of work, which the Lord had commanded." Ex. 35:23-29. Gold or goats' hair, - God will use the least as well as the most expensive gift, if it is brought with a willing heart. Of this great variety of gifts, one tabernacle was to be built - unity in variety. How wonderfully God works with our willing gifts - and with us!
The Gifts Were of God's Providing. Whence all these gifts? Before leaving Egypt, when the people asked the Egyptians a recompense for their unpaid labor, God knew just what materials would be needed in the construction of the sanctuary. He was keeping watch over His own, so that the Egyptians gave the Israelites the very things that would be required. These spoils of Egypt, the gifts of Israel, were therefore of God's own providing.
"As all the gifts of Israel were of the spoils of Egypt, so (when we come to God) we have nothing to bring but that which has been used in sinful indulgences when we were in the bondage of sin; but if we bring it willingly, He can refine and purify it, and make of it a place in which the light of the Shekinah may burn brightly, lighting the heart with the glory of God, and sending its effulgent rays out into the darkened world of sin." (R.S, Owen in R & H, March 26, 1925, page 12.
Unprofitable Giving. Not long before this, the people had brought their golden earrings to Aaron, from which he had made an idol - the golden calf. How much did their gifts at that time count? The calf which he had made was burnt in the fire, then ground to powder and strewn upon
the water, which the people drank. So the people kept their gold. Is it possible for God's people now to offer gifts with which to build an idol? If so, such gifts will never direct our steps toward Canaan; they will only turn our hearts to Egypt. Because of Israel's idolatry, three thousand fell of plague, Ex. 32:20,28,35, and the gold used to make the golden calf was all wasted; it could not stand the test of fire and the grinding process. I Cor. 3:13-15. Unless our gifts are rightly motivated, we might as well keep our idols of gold and silver; but in so doing we may be assured that in the end our treasures will all be burned, and we ourselves may perish.
True Generosity. After Israel had repented of their idolatry, and were converted, â€œwhile the building of the sanctuary was in progress, the people, old and young - men, women, and children - continued to bring their offerings, until those in charge of the work," PP 346, said to Moses, â€œThe people bring much more than enough for the service of the work . . . And Moses . . . caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much." Ex. 36:5-7.
â€œWhat a striking contrast." says A Hen Moore, â€œwith our present-day methods, when euchre, dances, concerts, and other worldly means are resorted to in order to get money for keeping up the church!â€ The Story of the Tabernacle, p. 59. Shall we not bring our gifts as free-will offerings from the heart, and not because some â€œbenefitâ€ device prompts us to so-called liberality? And shall we not bring our gifts to God while there is still need, for the time is not far distant when He will say, â€œThere is no further need.â€