The grace of God is awesome. But living in such a way that we need to experience that grace all the time is not healthy. What if we lived for the blessing of God instead?
The rest of the book of Exodus has a LOT of content and a LOT of repetition. It is filled with the building of the Tabernacle and the Consecration of Aaron and his sons. I want to wrap up this part of our Journey through the Mission of God by wrapping up the book of Exodus.
The Abrahamic covenant was a conditional covenant. IF the people do certain things, God will do certain things.
The last few messages looked at how the people failed. It was a costly mistake, but they learned a lot about what it means to honor God and be his chosen people.
The rest of the book of Exodus actually highlights a time of extreme success in the life of the nation of Israel. After being scolded, killing off 3,000 of them and giving a plague to the rest of them, the people got serious about their commitment to God.
We certainly can see the grace of God in the fact that he did not follow through with his plan of wiping all of them out and starting over with Moses. But living by relying on grace all the time is not healthy.
What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! …// Romans 6:1–2a CSB
While I desperately need grace in my life, I do not want to live in a state of continually seeking it because of my rebellion. There is a better way!
… “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. // 1 Samuel 15:22 NLT
Let’s examine what it looks like when Israel chooses obedience.
1 Moses assembled the entire Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do: 2 For six days work is to be done, but on the seventh day you are to have a holy day, a Sabbath of complete rest to the Lord. Anyone who does work on it must be executed. // Exodus 35:1–2 CSB
QUESTION: Why do YOU think God commanded the Sabbath rest? Why is this so important to God?
They were to trust that God would provide and honor him by having a day that physically demonstrated the condition of their heart.
Resting in God was literally a matter of life and death for the Israelites at that time! That is how serious this was to God. God wanted, even demanded, that the people learn to trust Him by resting in him. This is also how we know they obeyed God – there were still Israelites left to build the tabernacle.
This is the same reason that God only gave them enough mana for each day, but twice as much the day before the Sabbath – to PROVE that He is the provider.
This nation, the Jews, started with a promise to whom? Abraham. And after Abraham finally had the son that was promised, Isaac, he was commanded by God to sacrifice him. In Genesis 22, when Abraham was just about to do this think, God speaks:
11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He replied, “Here I am.” 12 Then he said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain.” // Genesis 22:11–14 CSB
The nation started with the very real, physical action that proved that Abraham trusted God to provide. This command to keep the Sabbath is a reminder that God provides.
God is the same way today. What makes sense to man does not necessarily make sense in the economy of God. Keeping the Sabbath – having a day where we do not work and we focus on God, is a faith issue.
Do we believe that God provides for our needs or that we do? Probably both, however, ultimately, the way we Sabbath will show who we think is the greater provider.
4 Then Moses said to the entire Israelite community, “This is what the Lord has commanded: 5 Take up an offering among you for the Lord. Let everyone whose heart is willing bring this as the Lord’s offering: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen and goat hair; 7 ram skins dyed red and fine leather; acacia wood; 8 oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 9 and onyx with gemstones to mount on the ephod and breastpiece. 10 “Let all the skilled artisans among you come and make everything that the Lord has commanded: // Exodus 35:4–10 CSB
Many people give to charity. There are some amazingly generous people in this world! There are many people who give to God as well. I do not know what anyone in this church gives, and this is not about the pastors getting rich btw – I have been at NCF for 29 years and have about the same base pay as a private in the army ?. This is about your relationship with God.
In this passage, God did not give a quantity that people had to give. But there was a requirement that God placed on the people with their gifts: check their heart. All those that have a willing heart were offered a chance to give to the work.
And look what they did – they got it right!!!
20 Then the entire Israelite community left Moses’s presence. 21 Everyone whose heart was moved and whose spirit prompted him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its services, and for the holy garments. 22 Both men and women came; all who had willing hearts brought brooches, earrings, rings, necklaces, and all kinds of gold jewelry—everyone who presented a presentation offering of gold to the Lord. // Exodus 35:20–22 CSB
29 So the Israelites brought a freewill offering to the Lord, all the men and women whose hearts prompted them to bring something for all the work that the Lord, through Moses, had commanded to be done. // Exodus 35:29 CSB
They gave as their hearts lead them. They give with a willing heart. And they kept giving:
… Meanwhile, the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. // Exodus 36:3 CSB
And check out what happens when people give because their WANT to give:
4 Then all the artisans who were doing all the work for the sanctuary came one by one from the work they were doing 5 and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than is needed for the construction of the work the Lord commanded to be done.” 6 After Moses gave an order, they sent a proclamation throughout the camp: “Let no man or woman make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” So the people stopped. 7 The materials were sufficient for them to do all the work. There was more than enough. // Exodus 36:4–7 CSB
Let’s get this out there: God does NOT need your money. God does not need your gifts.
Giving to God, just like the Sabbath, is a matter of faith and of honoring God. If we truly believe that all we have comes from God and that He provides for us, then to give back to him, regardless of the amount, shows that we trust Him.
6 The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. // 2 Corinthians 9:6–8 CSB
As I mentioned, these chapters in Exodus gave great detail to the expect specifications of the tabernacle and the priestly garments. There were a lot of specific instructions. God wanted things done in a certain way and in a certain order.
And the people did all that the Lord had commanded.
“As the Lord had commanded”. That is a simple little phrase, but a significant one. It shows that the people were willing to obey God in all the details.
In chapters 39-40 of Exodus, the phrase “as the lord had commanded” appears 16 times in the CSB.
Moses told the people what God expected, and in chapter 39:
42 The Israelites had done all the work according to everything the Lord had commanded Moses. 43 Moses inspected all the work they had accomplished. They had done just as the Lord commanded. Then Moses blessed them. // Exodus 39:42–43 CSB
The people obey God and Moses blesses them. (representation). Then God tells Moses to set up the tabernacle:
1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 2 “You are to set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. // Exodus 40:1–2 CSB
Chapter 40 talks about all that was done and how Moses did all that the lord has commanded. And in verse 33:
... So Moses finished the work. // Exodus 40:33 CSB
God gave specific instructions and the people did exactly what God told them to do.
Some of us are better than others at following directions, right? How many of you love Legos? When you get that new big Lego set, what do you do? Why?
If we want to make our own creation, if we want to reflect our imagination, we can just keep the instructions in the box and delve in. However, if we want the end result to look like the image on the box, the image that it’s creator had in mind, we have to make sure to follow the directions. We may not always get it right and we may end up undoing some things and doing them over again, but in the end, if we follow the instructions, our work can be what the creator and designer intended.
If we understand this to be true as a child with a child’s toy, why would we not understand this a child of God that is being “re-created” into the image of God?
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. // 1 Peter 1:14–16 CSB
Be holy… be set apart for God, set apart from the world by being obedient to God. Simple.
34 The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey. 37 If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey. // Exodus 40:34–38 CSB
After the calf incident, Moses sent up a tent at the outside of the camp where people could meet with God. After their obedience and honoring God, the Lord takes up residence among them. Not on the outskirts, but the tabernacle will be placed in the middle of the camp. God’s presence became the center of the world for the people of God.
The biggest blessing you and I ever experience is the very presence of God with us, in our midst. When God’s presence is seen and experienced, when God’s glory is on display among His people, not only do we experience a glimpse of the garden of Eden and a taste of what is yet to come when we will spend eternity in the presence of God, but we also understand why we are on this earth.
Who is the hero of the story? God. And as we finish this chapter in God’s story we find God has made a way for people to be close to him again. He is now “living among the people”. This has been God’s plan, his mission all along. God among his people and his people representing Him through holy living.
To be the PEOPLE of GOD who are to be a witness for God to the nations, we must be committed to at least these three things:
Basically, we must have the actions of our lives prove the beliefs that we have. This is what FAITH is:
6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. // Hebrews 11:6 CSB
For us to fully experience the blessing of God in our lives, to be in fellowship with Him, to put His glory on display instead of our own, we need to trust him by honoring the Sabbath, by willingly giving him our gifts and by doing what he says.
Let’s choose a life of seeking God’s blessing rather than needing God’s grace. Amen?