Exodus 35: Willing Spirits

In Exodus 34, Moses made new tablets and his shining face provided evidence to the Israelites that he was indeed speaking as an oracle of God. In chapter 35, Moses takes time to instruct the Israelites on the Sabbath and the materials needed to construct the Tabernacle.

Moses asked the people to bring what was needed from their own possessions: “Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord: 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.”

As we read from verses 5-9 above, it serves as a reminder of all of the description and instruction that God gave Moses on the mountain. Moses’ requests to the people continues on through verse 19 as he describes the different articles of the tabernacle to the artisans.

Moses’ instruction had an effect on the people “whose heart was stirred and everyone whose spirit was willing.” The effect was great and the people’s reaction was magnanimous and impressive. Both men and women came to give of their own possessions, of their time, and their individual talents.

Impressive still is the description of the artisans in verses 30-35. These men were filled with the spirit of God, the ability to teach, and to do all manner of skilled work. In this instance, there was a massive give-and-take between God and the people. God gave them instruction, they gave God the materials, then God gave them the talent to complete the work in an artistic fashion. Interwoven through stages of this process is the peoples’ stirred hearts and willing spirits. God provided for them in so many ways and any gap they had in understanding or satisfaction in the relationship was due to their own cold hearts and refusal to recognize God Almighty as the one true God. Over and over in the latter verses of this chapter, the phrasing suggests that all who had to give, gave, and that they gave very much.

In the dark shadow of the very recent worship of the golden calf, this peaceful and harmonious chapter is a comfort. In the center of the communication delivery is Moses. Without his righteous leadership, the people would have faltered even worse than they had previously. Moses recalled everything that God told him to relay and iterated and reiterated those pieces that the people and the artisans needed to hear to complete the work.

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