Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD’s contribution…Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the LORD has commanded.”
Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments…as a freewill offering to the LORD.
Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.”
And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work. And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.” So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more. (Exodus 35:1-36:7, ESV)
To their credit the people of Israel gave generously to the construction of the Tabernacle. They gave both of their possessions and of their talents. And though everyone was encouraged to come and do the work, Bezalel was given authority over the whole project to oversee it and, presumably, to determine who did what and that the quality of their work was acceptable. If it was not and they could be taught, he would teach them, as would Oholiab. God’s Spirit was at work in the leaders and the workers, the givers and the doers.
This is the description of a community filled with the Spirit. They have a clear vision of what it is they are to do in order to serve the Lord. They have skillful leaders to guide them in the Spirit’s work. They have generous hearts towards the Lord’s work and towards each other. There is a unity of spirit that comes from the Holy Spirit reminiscent of this time in Israel’s history on journey to the promised land, or the infant church in Acts 2 as they met and cared for one another and served the Lord. It is what Paul describes in Ephesians 4, a maintaing of the unity of the Spirit and the gifted leaders helping the various members of the body to work to increase the growth of the Body of Christ.
Nothing here was forced. God told people to respond only out of a generous heart because He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). And their hearts stirred them, stirred them so much that they brought more than enough and had to be restrained.
Where are you contributing like this? Where has God moved your heart to give? May there be more than enough.
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38, ESV)
John MacArthur at Grace to You (gty.org) explains the imagery of this passage: The imagery Christ used in Luke—the idea of pouring blessing into our laps—comes from the ancient Middle Eastern grain market. People would go into the grain market to purchase, literally, a lap-full of grain. The loose material of their garments extended all the way to the ground and was belted at the waist with a sash. When they went into the grain market, they would simply pull up some of that garment, looping it through the sash to create a huge pocket. The grain would be dumped into the makeshift pouch, literally filling their laps (cf. Ruth 3:15).
God responds with abundance to those who give generously.