Exodus 38

Take a moment to read the entire chapter of Exodus 38 before reading the devotional below.

With the Ark of the Covenant, table, lampstand, and incense altar complete, the interior of the Tabernacle is decorated. Recall that all of these items were either crafted of gold or were gold-plated. Today we focus on the altar of burnt offering, the washbasin, and the Tabernacle courtyard. These elements are crafted from bronze.

Note the contrast between the gold elements inside the Tabernacle and the bronze elements. One interesting perspective is that bronze represented sin and judgment, whereas gold represents God’s glory and brilliance. The items placed inside the Tabernacle were symbolic of God’s holiness, and the items outside the Tabernacle showed the sin of the people that kept them from entering into God’s holy place.

Here’s your freedom for today: God has a purpose for your offering. Some of the Israelites contributed gold, some bronze, some wood, some fabric. No offering was better than another — all the materials were needed and useful. Some materials represented God’s holiness, others represented sin and the need for a sacrifice. God had a purpose and a plan for every material, and he crafted his dwelling place from the materials they had. No matter what you have to give to God, he can use it for a purpose. Whether it is a small or big amount of money, skill, or talent, give it to God willingly and watch what he can make from it.

Exodus 37

Take a moment to read the entire chapter of Exodus 37 before reading the devotional below.

We are almost finished with our Exodus series before we head into an 8-day gratitude series followed by a series for Advent. If you have friends, family members, or church members who want to get into a Bible-reading habit during the Christmas season or in the new year, let them know about Freedom For Today! You can hit the Share buttons at the top of each post to spread the word about what you’re reading.

In today’s chapter, Bezalel continues to build the Tabernacle. He is melting down gold to overlay the Ark of the Covenant and the sacrifice table as well as to fashion the lampstand and the incense altar. It strikes me that the last time God’s people were melting down gold it was for the purpose of crafting a false idol to worship instead of God. We have no way of knowing, but I wonder if Bezalel himself had a hand in that idol-making process. He is clearly the most qualified craftsman. Could it be that this is as much a redemption story about Bezalel and God’s people as it is about how the Tabernacle was made?

Here’s your freedom for today: God gives us second chances. Bezalel may have once used his talents to betray God. If he wasn’t personally involved, certainly we know that the Israelites as a whole engaged in the misuse of their resources for idol worship. Here we see that God is allowing them to try again. He invites them to use their resources and talents to serve and worship him. They could have failed again. (And certainly in future stories we see that they do fail again many times.) But for now, Bezalel leads the way in obeying God’s instructions and using the gold entrusted to him for the right purposes. God honors this kind of stewardship and leadership. Even if you have used your resources or talents in sinful ways, it’s not too late to start applying those skills to the work God is calling you to do.

Exodus 36

Take a moment to read the entire chapter of Exodus 36 before reading the devotional below.

When was the last time your contractor insisted you stop paying because they had more than enough? The community offerings have poured in and all the materials required by God have been acquired. (Thanks to an astute reader who commented on yesterday’s post that Exodus 12 tells us they took silver, gold, and other treasures with them from Egypt. Mystery solved!)

Bezalel is a little-known hero of the Bible. His name might get lost in all the construction details, but he is a willing and Spirit-filled man who creates a home for God. He builds the frames, embroiders the curtains, and attends to every detail just as God described. His work is a model of what it means to serve God with excellence.

Here’s your freedom for today: your heart is God’s new building project. As we’ve considered all the way through this Exodus series, the Tabernacle is no longer God’s chosen dwelling among us. After Jesus’ return to heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit to each believer, God lives within us. We are all Bezalels, crafting with excellence the perfect place for God to inhabit. The space you make in your heart is the size of his Tabernacle. How much room does God have in your life today?

 

Exodus 35

Take a moment to read the entire chapter of Exodus 35 before reading the devotional below.

In today’s chapter, it is finally time to build the Tabernacle the way that God instructed. The people have repented. They have returned to God’s ways and instead of using their resources to craft idols they are bringing all that they have to make the building of the Tabernacle possible. As I’ve said before, I have no idea how they had access to precious gemstones and gold in the middle of a desert, but they did. And they gave it to the cause.

I’ve never seen a church building project go down quite like this one. The Spirit of God is moving in the hearts of the people. He is telling them exactly what to give and he is filling men and women with skills to complete the necessary tasks. There is a stirring in the whole community to fulfill the mission given by God. We often think of the early church described in Acts as the model of the body of Christ, but this chapter gives us an earlier example of God’s people as he intended them to be.

Here’s your freedom for today: accomplishing God’s work requires community. You can’t do the Christian journey alone. It is physically and spiritually impossible. The kinds of things God asks us to do are bigger than any one of us. We need help. We need to work together. We need to see that we are each one small part of something much bigger. If you are disconnected from a local church, get plugged in. Be a part of something. Find a church on a mission and do your one part with excellence. Let the Spirit lead you, whether your role is to give or to serve or to build or to preach. Amazing things can happen when we all move in the Spirit together.

Exodus 34

Take a moment to read the entire chapter of Exodus 34 before reading the devotional below.

When you break your stuff when you’re mad, it just means you have to go through some difficult steps to get new stuff. Moses has to climb back up Mount Sinai to chisel out some more stones to have God write his Ten Commandments on for a second time. (And by the way, he had to cut the stones at the bottom of the mountain and climb up with them without help. He’s probably going to stop throwing things after that…)

God gives Moses a hopeful message after sin had separated God’s people from him. He tells Moses that he doesn’t stay mad, and that he is eager to forgive. However, the consequences of rebellion are generational. Sin can’t be ignored or it will fester and take over the people. Imagine what might have happened to God’s people if he had not responded to their idol worship. Eventually they would be no different than any other people who have never known God and the life he offers. Moses returns to the bottom of the mountain after another 40 days has gone by and this time his face is glowing because he has spoken to God. The effects of God’s presence are so strong that Moses has to cover his face with a veil so as to not blind those around him.

Here’s your freedom for today: the presence of God changes you. We don’t get a description of Moses’ climb up the mountain carrying two heavy stones, but I imagine that he had a lot of things to think about on that uphill journey. Surely it changed parts of his heart and mind. He was carrying the weight of the sins of the people, which brings up images of Jesus carrying the cross up a hill. More obviously, Moses is physically changed as his face begins to glow after talking with God. We know that today all of us who follow Jesus have this privilege of direct communication. What does that mean about the way God’s presence changes us? In what way is he burning his Spirit into you in a way that is supernaturally brilliant?