At this point in Exodus, I believe the Israelites are still encamped at Mount Sinai. Moses received instruction and commandments for the children of Israel, while speaking with the Lord in the Mount. They showed they were not able or willing to keep their covenants faithfully, by turing to ways of idolatry while Moses was not with them. After Moses pleaded on their behalf, the Lord covenanted with them again and gave them the lesser law to follow. The instructions for the building of a tabernacle have also been received. The book continues as follows:
1 And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the Lord hath commanded, that ye should do them.
2 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.
3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.
Moses told the host of Israel, that they were to keep the Sabbath day holy and free from work. Any defilement of this holy day, was worthy of death according to the Lord. We are not told that we will be put to death for this today, but any breaking of the sabbath causes the spirit to withdraw from us and we have the greater risk of the death of our spirit, meaning separation from God eternally.
4 And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying,
5 Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the Lord; gold, and silver, and brass,
6 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,
7 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,
8 And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense,
9 And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate.
10 And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the Lord hath commanded;
11 The tabernacle, his tent, and his covering, his taches, and his boards, his bars, his pillars, and his sockets,
12 The ark, and the staves thereof, with the mercy seat, and the veil of the covering,
13 The table, and his staves, and all his vessels, and the shewbread,
14 The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light,
15 And the incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the door at the entering in of the tabernacle,
16 The altar of burnt offering, with his brasen grate, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot,
17 The hangings of the court, his pillars, and their sockets, and the hanging for the door of the court,
18 The pins of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and their cords,
19 The cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office.
The Israelites are commanded to make a willing offering to the Lord, for the building of the tabernacle (see Exodus 25-30 for their instructions on the building of the tabernacle). Their offering was to be of the finest materials, such as gold, silver, fine linens, woods, precious stones, and so on. Then they were told that all who were willing, should give sacrifice of the time and talents to help in the building of the tabernacle. There would be a need for building the tabernacle itself, as well as all those things which they had been commanded should go inside it. We are also expected to make a willing sacrifice today. This is the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. As saints in these latter-days, we should willing come to the Lord with humility and a desire to change our hearts to follow the will of the Lord. When we willing give this sacrifice, the Lord can guide us through the promptings of the spirit. Only then, are we able to truly do our part to further the work of the Lord.
20 And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.
21 And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.
22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the Lord.
23 And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers’ skins, brought them.
24 Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the Lord’s offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it.
25 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, and of fine linen.
26 And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.
27 And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate;
28 And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.
29 The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the Lord had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.
The people left, and when the willing returned, they offered service and their material goods for the building. I love that it says that all whose hearts were stirred up came to do this. Those who were open and willing to let the spirit influence them, did as they were instructed. True and worthy sacrifices take the influence of the spirit of God. I also love that it tells us that men and women came, because it is so great to see the influence of righteous women along with the men. We accomplish greater work, when we serve the Lord together. The women even took the time to spin threads of all types that were needed. I learn from this, that the people did more then just return with what they already had available, but that they went home and used their skills and talents to prepare gifts for the Lord.
I love to hear the stories of those in these last days, who have given all their precious things for building meeting houses and temples. Today, we rarely hear of that kind of sacrifice. I can’t help but feel that a house to the Lord would mean so much more to the people if they were required to give of their own belongings to accomplish it. I know that our tithes and offerings today, go towards building and maintaining our houses of worship, but there seems to be less of a connection directly to it this way. The closest I can understand this feeling, is from an experience that my husband had, which I shared in. When we lived in southern California, my husband helped to edit the photo of our temple president. That photograph was then put on canvas and hung inside the office of the temple. It was one which could be seen from one of the common areas in the temple, and every time we walked passed it, I felt that a part of our family was there everyday. It put a smile on my face every time I saw or thought of it. I can imagine that giving all their fine things and using their talents to create beautiful things, would have given the Israelites a personal and strong connection with the tabernacle. I think this would have drawn them closer to the Lord and his will for them. What a beautiful blessing this would have been for the children of Israel.
30 And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;
31 And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;
32 And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
33 And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.
34 And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
35 Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.
The callings from the Lord were extended, which we learn about in the previous instruction given to Moses. Bezaleel was called to work specifically in building the things of the tabernacle and to teach others his craft. Aholiab was also called to craft those things needed for the tabernacle.
When I think of what this I learn from this chapter, I am reminded that the prophet today needs us. Our prophet has received a calling and a mission from the Lord. He has specific things he is inspired to do. Even being the great man he is, he cannot do it alone. The prophet needs us to sustain him. One of the greatest ways we can do this, is to answer our own call. When we are asked to serve, even in the smallest of ways in our own wards and homes, we help him to do his work. Giving of our time, talents, and energy, along with tithes and offerings, are ways that we can help the prophet to further the work. Moses had been commanded to build the tabernacle, but only with the support of the Israelites was he able to follow and fulfill that commandment.