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Posts Tagged ‘offering’

Little_Miss_Vain

I wanted to briefly go back and examine Exodus 38:8 before moving on to the final chapter of this amazing book of the Bible.  It says this:

“He made the basin of bronze and its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the ministering women who ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting.” ~Exodus 38:8

Here, we have a special note made of what a few particular women contributed to the building of their Father’s house.

Consider first what kind of women these givers were.  These women were described as ministering women.  The text says they ministered in the entrance of the tent meeting.  When and where men and women came to worship God, these women would be found encouraging, supporting, participating, and edifying all those who came as well as giving glory and honor to God by their faithful and honorable presence.  There are always those who are prominent in their community, more exemplary in their devotion, and more vigilant, serious-minded, and frequent in their attendance to the things of God and his house.  Doubtless, these were those women.  Ministering women are not common women by any means, yet they are humble, kind, unselfish women whose ultimate daily goal and aim is to please God and love others.

Consider next what these particular women gave.  Our verse tells us that the bronze basin was made from the mirrors that had belonged to these women.  Now that’s quite an interesting item to put in the offering plate!  The item they gave in sacrifice for God’s glory was the item that, naturally, entangles and bewitches many a decent woman to sin.  We women often have a natural desire and common temptation to look too long at ourselves for vanity and even fall in love with our own appearances because of the power and prowess that goes along with a misguided use of our own beauty.  Just as men are tempted ever to look, women are tempted ever to make them look.  How much more then were these women admirable and noteworthy!  The item these holy and devout women gave in sacrifice and worship to God was the very item that unholy and irreligious women use to empower and worship themselves.  God save us from this truncation of God’s purpose and plan for our beauty!

Being a beautiful woman requires great deference to Our Lord because our beauty can either be channelled and purposed for the good of those around us or it can be used for the evil and selfishness dwelling in our own hearts.

Thirdly, let us consider what these precious gift mirrors meant for those who received them.  The mirrors were used to build a basin where the priests would wash after offering sacrifice and before entering into the holiest place in the temple.  Actually, it was indeed the holiest place in the entire world.  The sacrifice of these women made it possible for the leading holy men close to them to wash their own selves clean and examine themselves rightly before meeting with God on behalf of others.  There is much to be said for humble, faithful, devout women who give sacrificially.  Our gifts are often the very catalyst and prerequisite for change and growth in the women and, especially, the men around us.

The selflessness of these ministering women resulted in the ability of their spiritually leading male counterparts to wash and rightly examine themselves.  Surely we ought to take note!  Not one of us should ever enter into the presence of our perfectly holy God and Father without the washing of repentance and looking into the mirror of self-examination.  The Word of God is our mirror, and, as people of God, the more time we spend learning, studying, meditating, and loving the Bible, the less time we will spend wasting on vanity and vain things.

We must lead by example and never trade the influence of personal faithfulness and devotion to God for the influence of physical attractiveness.  We must use instead the latter to bolster the building up of the former, not vice versa.  Anything that stands in the way of our faithfulness must be sacrificed for the greater good of both ourselves and others.  As Matthew Henry says, “God’s service and glory must always be preferred by us before any satisfactions or accommodations of our own.  Let us never complain of the want of that which we may honor God by parting with.”

Keep in mind that it is not sinful to be beautiful.  It is sinful to use our beauty for self-centered and ungodly ambitions.  God created women to be attractive and lovely both inwardly and outwardly.  The most important thing is to never make the mistake of getting the two out of order; the outward must serve and bow to the inward, not the other way around.

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heart

After Moses told the people of God to bring their best gifts and skills and give them to the building of the temple, an amazing thing happened.  They left his speech, went and got exactly what he’d asked for, and brought it back straightaway.

Wouldn’t it be great if every congregation directly, immediately went home and obeyed God’s instructions every time the preacher preached?  That’s amazing!

The people brought in their gold, their silver, their fine yarns and animal skins, their good wood, and their fine colored linens.  They brought all their best to God this time.  The gold they obtained from Egypt upon their deliverance they now used to honor and obey God rather than using it to make golden idols for themselves as they did before.  Doubtless these men and women had genuinely repented and proved their sincerity by doing for God all that he had asked at their own expense.

The text repeatedly tells us that “all who were willing” brought these items and talents to be used of God immediately after Moses asked for them.  In verse 21, “…everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him…”  In verse 22, “all who were of a willing heart…” In verse 26, “All the women whose heart stirred them to use their skill…” and in verse 29, “All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.”  The use of “all those who were willing” informs us of two things.  The first is that the very act of giving to the Lord begins by the Spirit’s moving in our hearts.  Giving is an act of a heart that is tender to the things of God.  No one has that kind of heart apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.  The second implication is that there were those who were not willing, who did not give, and who were not moved of the Spirit among the people of God.  Many are vested in true religion as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.  Such were some of these.

Obedience to God in giving is a matter of the heart.  Our hearts naturally give, first and foremost, to ourselves and our selfish interests.  It takes a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit’s drawing and moving to make us willing to give to the cause of God at the expense of ourselves.  The beauty of giving to God is that, in the end, we reap a much better reward in giving to God than we ever do in giving to ourselves.  That’s why the Bible says that whoever loses his life will find it, and whoever wants to save his life will lose it.

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anionting

The very last item God instructed Moses to have made for the Tent of Meeting was anointing oil.  In Exodus 30:22-38, we find the instructions and specifications for its use.

The anointing oil that was to be used in God’s house was to be composed of the finest spices known to man.  Some of these included myrrh, cinnamon, cane cassia, and olive oil.  The tent, the Ark of the Covenant, the table, the lampstand, all the utensils, and the basin and stand were all to be anointed with this oil.  The priests were to be anointed with it as well and that was to be part of their consecration to God.  Anything that touched these items would become holy.

No one else was permitted to use or apply this particular blend of oil to themselves or use it in their own houses.  Only the tabernacle and the priests were to apply and use this oil.  It was to be holy and set apart for God alone and his own glory.  Anyone who duplicated or misused this blend of oil was to be cut off from the people of God.

God is serious about that which he sets apart for holiness.  Reverence and respect are to be used when handling and approaching the sacred things of God, and they are never to be used for the personal pleasures of men.

God was to be honored with this anointing oil.  The fragrant smell within his house was to set it apart as holy.  The different ingredients can be likened to the different gifts of the Holy Spirit in our gospel days.  The sacred spiritual gifts we are given by the Spirit are to be blended together in his house and used as a fragrant offering to the Lord by we, his people.  We must give our gifts back to him rather than serving ourselves by them.  If God has given us a gift in order to make himself known, we must regard that gift as holy unto the Lord and use it for his glory rather than our own.  When the people of God use their gifts and talents to serve themselves or build their own kingdoms, the result is disunity – or being cut off – from his true people.  When the people of God come together and bringing and blending the gifts we have been given together in unity, the result is a fragrant offering that honors the Lord.

Let us remember the words of Matthew Henry when offering the sweet and sacred gifts we have been given back to the Lord:

“…the like should not be made for any common use.  Thus God would preserve in the people’s minds a reverence for his own institutions, and teach us not to profane nor abuse any thing whereby God makes himself known…It is a great affront to God to jest with sacred things, particularly to make sport with the word and ordinances of God, or to treat them with lightness. (Matthew 22:5) That which is God’s peculiar must not be used as a common thing.”  

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meeting

Exodus 29:38-46 indicates important parallels to our daily needs and duties.  Let’s consider these verses carefully.

Once the priests were ordained and consecrated, they were to begin making daily animal sacrifices on the altar for God’s people.

 “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. 39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.” ~Exodus 29:38-39

A one year-old lamb in the morning and a one year-old lam in the evening…every…single…day.  The offerings were given with bread and wine and made at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.  I don’t know about you, but when I read this I thought, “Wow.  That’s a lot of work every day.”  Not to mention how messy it must have been.  And these were only the bare minimum requirements as far as sacrifices went for each day.  Many other offerings and sacrifices often had to be made in addition to these.  Nevertheless, if Israel were faithful to do this, God promised to meet them there and dwell among them.

This is a great passage to consider.  Clearly, the duty to continually offer these daily sacrifices point to our duty to offer daily prayer and devotions to God.  This is our meat; our daily bread.  To meet with God faithfully and offer our prayers, praise, and worship assures and confirms to us God’s faithfulness to meet us there and dwell with us.  If we will not obey him in offering daily devotion, we will not know rightly his great faithfulness and concern for us.  Great assurance comes with consistent obedience to God’s instruction.

On the contrary, if we’ll not commit ourselves daily to his commands and our Christian duties and devotions, we’ll not know his faithfulness, his guidance, his direction, or his heart for us.  God is always faithful, but we only know and understand the reality of his commitment and love toward us when we commit to and show love toward him; when we continually meet with and obey him in time spent with him personally.

Remember, these daily offerings were required.  They were not mere suggestions for God’s people.  They were costly, bloody, and a great amount of real work.  Such is daily prayer and devotion to God.  Yet, we ought never treat these things as if they are optional.  These things are required for a healthy spiritual life.  Communion with our Lord is paramount every single day of our lives.

“God will not fail to give those the meeting who diligently and conscientiously attend upon him in the ordinances of his own appointment.” Matthew Henry

In other words, if we are faithful to consistently and seriously do that which God has instructed us, he will not fail to meet with and encourage us. God personally meets with those who honor and obey him.

 

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murdre

You shall not murder. ~Exodus 20:13

Most of us think we’ve got this command covered because we haven’t murdered anyone.  Unfortunately, Jesus’ clarification in Matthew 5:21-26 deems us all guilty.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause[b] shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. ~Matthew 5:21-26

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us a clear picture of what it looks like to murder someone without causing physical death.  To hate someone in your heart, to be angry with someone unreasonably, or to curse them carelessly.

Jesus does not add anything new, he simply explains what the command really means for people who truly belong to him.  Interestingly, he speaks to those who already know well the law – who have these commands read and taught to them every week in the synagogue.  That’s why he begins, “You’ve heard it said…”

In other words, you know this stuff.  You constantly hear and teach it and have from your youth.  This is not new to you.  This has always been true and yet you repeatedly, continuously ignore the deeper truth that you should be teaching to others!

The Jews had a judgement for murder – even for accidental killing had a severe punishment!  So even if I didn’t mean to do it, I still had to pay a huge personal price because my brother’s life is extremely important and I am to treat it as such.  How careful we must be to avoid injuring him!

So even accidents had severe consequences, yet they failed to consider the underlying principles and foundation that this command was laid upon.  The outward emphasis that these religious men had placed upon this (and other) commandments was merely a gloss of piety meant to cover over their inward filth and pet sins against their brothers and sisters.  They therefore prohibited only the sinful act, not the sinful thought process that led up to it.  Jesus sets them straight.

When Jesus speaks of anger being sinful, he defines it as being, “without cause.” In other words, there are some real good reasons – right reasons to be angry.  Remember, this is a man who threw tables in the synagogue.  There is no doubt good reason to exhibit anger against willful rebellion and injurious, exclusive attitudes – especially if they are  continuously occurring within God’s house.

So then, anger is sinful if and when it is not valid.  Matthew Henry says it best:

“Anger is a natural passion; there are cases in which it is lawful and laudable; but it is then sinful, when we are angry without cause.  When is without any just provocation given; either for no cause, or no good cause, or not great and proportional cause; when we are angry upon groundless surmises, or for trivial affronts not worth speaking of; whereas if we are at any time angry, it should be to awaken the offender to repentance, and prevent his doing so again; to clear ourselves and to give warning to others.” 

Furthermore, when we are yelling at our brother calling him a fool as opposed to merely making him aware that he is indeed being foolish in order to convince him of his folly, that is wrong – the latter is right!  It is for his good!  Think of James, Paul, Christ – who speak to their hearers as, “O, vain man,” “You fools,” “O fools, slow of heart…”

Jesus goes on to teach a lesson in urgency.  In utter haste, we ought to be reconciled if another comes to us with a grievance for which we are responsible.  So important is this reconciliation with the one we’ve offended that Jesus forbids offering anything at all to Him until it is done.  We are utterly unfit to come to his altar in worship or sacrifice if we be not willing to reconcile with our brother or sister first.

“From all this it is here inferred, that we ought carefully to preserve Christian love and peace with all our brethren, and that if at any time a breach happens, we should labor for a reconciliation, by confessing our fault, humbling ourselves to our brother, begging his pardon, and making restitution, or offering satisfaction for wrong done in word or deed, according as the nature of the thing is; and that we should do this quickly for two reasons: 1. Because, till this be done, we are utterly unfit for communion with God in holy ordinances and 2. Because, till this be done, we lie exposed to much danger.  It is at our peril if we do not labor after an agreement, and that quickly…” Matthew Henry

Therefore, we see that, according to Our Lord, we are responsible not only to avoid causing physical injury and death to others, but emotional, spiritual, and all personal injury as well.

There is a time for everything – including anger, yet in it, we must not sin.

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