Exo 36 -- Exo 39: These chs describe the manufacture of the
tabernacle and its furniture -- the pattern for which Moses had received when he
was in the mount. Earlier, the order in which the elements of the tabernacle
were described was from the center out, the construction begins at the outside
and works inwards. Reason: when the instructions were given, it was from God's
point of view; when the work was done, it was from man's point of
Vv 1,2: "We have here a double insight into what makes people
give their time and work to the service of the LORD. On the one hand (v 1), it
is God who put the wisdom into their hearts, and on the other (v 2) it was
everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to the work. These two are
synonymous because the man whose heart is right before the LORD will do His will
as if it was his own. We do well to remember that we do nothing in our own
strength and there is certainly no room for pride in ourselves if we work the
works of God. All must be done in humility and reverence of His great creative
power by which all things consist" (PC).
TO WHOM THE LORD HAS GIVEN SKILL AND ABILITY: Those who
have received ability from the Lord are at the same time being called to the
building of the LORD's "tabernacle" -- which is the house in which he dwells,
the community of believers.
AND WHO WAS WILLING TO COME AND DO THE WORK: Ability
and willingness, along with resolution, are the tools to be desired in the call
of workers in the vineyard, of builders in God's house. The talents we are
entrusted with must not be tucked away in a napkin, but put to use. Why do we
have our gifts, if not to do good with them?
The materials which the people had contributed were delivered
by Moses to the workmen. They could not "create" a tabernacle -- they could not
make it out of nothing -- they could not work, unless they had something to work
with and upon. And so the people therefore brought the materials and Moses put
them into the hands of the builders.
Morning after morning (v 3) the people brought more freewill
offerings, until there was more than enough. What a testimonial to their loving
service, and to their desire to forward the work of the building. Like the
Macedonians at a much later date, "their overflowing joy... welled up in rich
generosity... [and] they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their
ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege
of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected,
but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's
will" (2Co 8:2-5).
"NO MAN OR WOMAN IS TO MAKE ANYTHING ELSE AS AN OFFERING
FOR THE SANCTUARY." AND SO THE PEOPLE WERE RESTRAINED FROM BRINGING MORE:
The reason being given in the following verse: "because what they already had
was more than enough to do all the work." "I'm sure people haven't changed that
much. If this was one of our ecclesias, this superabundance would have been
provided by those who are the regular workers, those who get stuck in to
ecclesial activities right from the start. There would have been some, surely,
who, when hearing the request from Moses to stop providing as there was enough,
would be in the embarrassing position of not even having started. There has to
be a lesson here for us. Consider Heb 3:7-15, with particular attention to the
word 'Today' " (PC).
Vv 10-18: Notice the repeated use of the words for "join" and
"together" in this section -- an allusion to the unity of the Body of
SEA COWS: Heb "tachashim". Translated, variously, "sea
cows" (NIV; WEB); "dugongs" (mg); "porpoises" (NASB); "seals" (JPS); or
"badgers" (KJV; Roth). The general scholarly consensus on the word is that it is
Egyptian in origin. The Arabic word "duhas" refers to a dolphin. They are common
in the Red Sea; their skins are used for clothing by the Bedouin. The word has
also been connected to an Egyptian word for "leather" (BDB). This is followed by
NRSV and NET ("fine leather").