Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Exodus 34:28), was not followed by the same disastrous effects as the former one. The people had meantime had enough of "gods of gold." They were too frightened at what had happened to think of seeking out any more" inventions" (Ecclesiastes 7:29). They were penitent and well disposed. When at length the news came that God had forgiven them, no bounds could be set to their zeal for service. Learn -
1. How God brings good out of evil. The Divine physician so treated the distemper of the people that it ended, not simply in restored health, but in increased vitality and energy. The lapse into sin was made the means of imparting to the people the stimulus necessary for the erection of the tabernacle.
2. That revival of religion evinces its reality by the effects which it produces.
(1) Willingness to hear. "I will hear what God the Lord will speak" (Psalm 85:8). Happy would it have been for Israel had it not "turned again to folly."
(2) Willingness to give. Liberality in the Lord's service.
(3) Willingness to work. The joy of salvation cannot better spend itself than in the doing of the work of the Lord's kingdom, Willing hearts, ready hands. On the injunction to keep the sabbath, see Homily on Exodus 31:12-18. - J.O.
I. LIBERAL GIVERS. Almost everything needed for the sanctuary was provided by the free gifts of the people. What was required was readily forthcoming. The only exception to the voluntariness of the givings was the half-shekel of atonement money (Exodus 30:11-17; Exodus 38:25, 26). These givings, which may well be made the model of our own, were:
1. Willing - "Every one whose heart stirred him up, and whom his spirit made willing" (ver. 21). The Lord "loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).
2. According to ability. Each gave as he was able (vers. 23-29). The princes gave costly gifts. Others brought silver and brass. Others gave wood. Those who could not give anything else gave work (vers. 25, 26).
3. Universal. All classes gave. The princes, the people, young and old, men and women.
4. Overflowing. So zealous was the spirit of the people, and so abundant were their gifts, that they had in the end to be restrained (Exodus 36:5-7). When will a like liberality be manifested in the cause of Christ? Liberal givings are needed. There is still much land to be possessed at home. Heathen lands are opening to the Gospel.
5. It sufficed for the work (Exodus 36:7). Thus would God teach us that it is his will that his work should be supported by the voluntary contributions of his people.
6. The giving was made an act of worship - " Every man that offered, offered an offering (lit. a wave-offering) of gold unto the Lord" (ver. 22). "Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the Lord's offering" (ver. 24). This is the true spirit of religious giving. The humblest offering, thus presented, will not fail of acceptance.
II. WILLING WORKERS (Exodus 36:1, 2). The work, like the giving, was hearty. Those only were asked to engage in this work whose hearts stirred them up to do it. God desires no other kind of workers.
III. DIVERSE GIFTS. These were needed for the different parts of the work. The man who made the "pin" (ver. 18) was as truly a worker in God's service, as Bezaleel, who drew the plans. He had his own gift and use.
IV. THE WISDOM OF THE SPIRIT. "He hath filled him with the spirit of God" (ver. 31). "Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart," etc. (ver. 35). - J.O.
I. THE FACT THAT THE LORD CHOSE MEN TO DO THE WORK. It might have been otherwise. As the people were requested of their free-will to provide the materials, so they might have been requested to provide the necessary artificers. But it is easy to see what differences and jealousies might have resulted, all to end in some unsatisfactory compromise. There was no difficulty as long as each one gave of his own decision; and what further difficulty then threatened to come, God immediately removed by himself selecting the men who were to carry out his designs. It is very likely that Bezaleel and Aholiab were not the men whom the people themselves would have chosen. So far as pure artistic originality was concerned they may have been excelled; for the possession in Israel of so much material for artistic and precious work seems to show that there must have been many with the ability requisite for such work. But God had his own principles of choice, his own purposes to serve; and it would appear in due time how wise God was in indicating certain men and not others for what needed to be done.
II. THE QUALIFICATIONS WITH WHICH GOD ENDOWED THEM. God, we may be sure, to some extent took them for what they were by nature. He always looks at the natural basis on which he proposes to build up some Divine work. But he did not leave them to their natural strength to carry out his designs. He did not leave them to toil onward to impressive results through many attempts which had to be forsaken as failures. Great works of art, which only too many spectators regard with but a glance, are to the artist memorials of weary and tantalising hours. Sir Joshua Reynolds said of one of his completed paintings, "there are ten under it, some better, some worse." Bezaleel and Aholiab were spared all such disappointments, all vain hunts after the unattainable ideal. A variety of words are used with respect to them, as if to signify how eminently and abundantly God had endowed them with all that was necessary for the task. Thus it was to be made plain to the then living generation and their successors that the tabernacle and its contents were in a very important sense the work of God. These things were to be sacred in every way: they were not to be criticised and compared, as if they were the outcome of art and man's device. Perhaps criticism did come, for fault-finders are numerous in every age; but the two chosen artificers needed not to trouble themselves about any complaining. And should we not all find it better if, instead of straining to do work for God in our own strength and wisdom - which must ever be a saddening failure as to spiritual results - we sought to be as tools directed by the wisdom of God? We have no right to complain if keen eyes discover the weak points in what is fashioned by our own skill; but if we are sure that God's Spirit is ruling in all we do for him, then we may meet complaints with a meek indifference. - Y.