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15 June 2016

Responding to God with joyful generosity

Tony Watkins (LT pics 2016) Tony Watkins Sent Mission Partner
Tabernacle model

When Moses told the people of Israel about God’s instruction to build a place of worship, the response was incredible.

After God rescued Abraham’s descendants from slavery in Egypt, he took them to Sinai to meet him and become his covenant people. While they camped around the mountain, Moses climbed to the top to receive God’s instructions, including details about how Israel was to worship God.

Central to their worship was the tabernacle or ‘tent of meeting’, which was the forerunner of the temple. This was the place where God would symbolically live in the centre of his people. His glory would fill the most holy place within it.

The Lord gave Moses detailed instructions about the tabernacle’s design and construction. It was to be a bigger, better, and more beautiful structure than anything they would have imagined transporting through the wilderness.

God’s creative gifts

God did more than tell them what to make, however. He gave members of the Israelite community the ability to design and build it, and appointed a man named Bezalel to be the craftsman in charge:

See, I have chosen Bezalel … and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills — to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. (Exodus 31:2–5)

God chose Oholiab as Bezalel’s assistant and gave ‘ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded’ (Exodus 31:6). This doesn’t imply that these people received miraculous gifts of skill and artistry, since creativity is part of bearing God’s image (Genesis 1:1,27). It probably means that God had already given people their talents, though Bezalel received a special filling of the Holy Spirit for his role.

An overwhelming response

Where did the material resources come from? Before the Israelites escaped from slavery, God prompted their Egyptian neighbours to give them many valuables. In the wilderness, the Israelites must have realised that everything they possessed was because of grace – especially because they had just powerfully experienced God’s grace in rescuing them dramatically.

So when Moses asked the people to contribute towards the tabernacle construction, they responded joyfully and generously (Exodus 35:20–29). This went beyond mere initial enthusiasm: ‘the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning’ (Exodus 36:3). The craftsmen were overwhelmed so Moses told the people to stop: ‘And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work’ (Exodus 36:6–7).

What an extraordinary outpouring of generosity for God’s work!

Time for us to respond

Church building - Heather Farrier

Refresh Phase Two is not in the same league as the tabernacle! We have no detailed instructions from God, but we do believe he is leading us to improve our building to make a greater impact for the gospel on Above Bar Street. We believe that our building should be the best it can be – not merely functional and well made, but as attractive as we can make it. Like the tabernacle, both the aesthetic and practical qualities of the work should glorify God – and make a powerful statement to others.

God has given us people with necessary skills (though we obviously need to employ contractors), and we believe that he will supply the resources we need.

As we approach our Refresh gift day on Sunday 19 June

  • take time to thank God for his gifts to us as a church, including creative and technical skills
  • thank God for his incredible grace in rescuing us from slavery to sin, and for giving us all the good things we have personally
  • pray that this Refresh phase two work will bring great glory to him and attract people in to our building to encounter God
  • reflect on the Israelite’s joyful, generous giving as we consider what the Lord would have us give to this exciting project.

» Watch this video about Refresh Phase Two

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2 comments

Pamela Jackson on June 15, 2016

“If we are eventually going to have some ‘form of art work ’in the front of the building please can it be a cross, a symbol of our faith and recognised as such by non Christians, and not loose this opportunity of faith being witnessed and so that everyone knows it is a church. Thank you”

John Risbridger on June 15, 2016

“Thanks Tony. Great to reflect on how God’s people were moved to generosity like that. Joining you in praying towards the weekend”

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