Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gold, Skins and Gems

A funny thing happened on the way to Deuteronomy. Halfway there, “All the skilled women spun with their hands…all the women whose heart stirred with a skill spun the goats’ hair” (Exodus 35:25, 26) caught my eye. I was impressed. I read on.

Moses, leading the Israelites out of Egypt to the promised land, gathers the people to give them God’s command: “Take from among you a contribution of precious materials to the LORD, whoever is willing.”

Why? What is God doing? He is commissioning His people to build and supply the tabernacle, a tent for His dwelling among them and the place for His people to meet Him.

Everyone went home to search their souls and their tents. Then, “everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments” (v. 21). They returned with gold jewelry, exotic fabrics and skins, rare oils and spices, and precious stones.

But giving was only the beginning. These precious materials were distributed to skilled men and women. Here, “skilled” literally means wise of heart and “heart stirred with a skill” literally means lifted them up in wisdom.

Doesn’t their example beckon you? Out of a stirred spirit and a moved heart you, too, may bring a precious gift to the same LORD, for His service. But bringing Him this gift is only the beginning. You are also invited to develop it by a wise heart. And not only you: just as Israelites worked together on projects, so you gather with like minded writers; and just as the Israelites were taught by Bezalel and Oholiab in the arts, so you may teach and be taught your craft. As your heart is “stirred with a skill” you will also find you are lifted in wisdom. Not for your glory but for the glory of your God, who brought you out of slavery and set you free.

What skill has the Lord entrusted to you?
What would it look like to bring it to him?
How could you take it in hand and develop it?
Whom could you teach and whom could you learn from?
Does the cost kindle fear?

If yes, that original destination in Deuteronomy—Moses’ last counsel to all Israel—can quench it: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at [the nations], for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you…the LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (31:6,8).


  1. Excellent post, Renata. Very encouraging. And I like the focus on whom we can teach as well as whom we can learn from.

    Mind if I step into the "pulpit" and make a couple of related points? Thank you.

    First, we need to remember what happened prior to this. That's right. The Golden Calf. That was not as good a moment as this passage. But a lot of times, a repentant heart and forgiven sin can propel us to serve Him with a vengeance (a line borrowed by the song "Why Me?" by Trace Balin).

    Second, you commented the route to Deuteronomy, where Moses gave his farewell address forty years later. But why forty years later? Because between this time of obedience and Moses' admonition not to fear, the nation blew it again, refusing to enter the Promised Land. Our heart to give and develop our talents doesn't mean we can lose faith and look at giants instead of God's promise. I know of a church where a previous pastor wrote an excellent tract that God has used. The church felt it did its job and sat expecting the next pastor to serve for 25 years without budging. Where is that church now? Well, I don't know if the building's still there, but that church closed about ten years ago.

    Thanks for letting me preach a little. Have a blessed day.


    1. Thank you so much for putting these events into context for me. Preach away!!

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  3. YIKES, my comment had so many errors (well, 3) that I deleted it. Here it is again:
    Marvelous piece! Thanks, Renata! I always love it when focus is given to the special "things" women in the Bible did. . . of course! And this reminds of something that was bro't to my attention not too terribly long ago -- when I was reading and researching some OT passages. MANY of the Israelites who fled the Egyptians were highly skilled! They didn't just do "grunt" work, as they're sometime pictured. And as you pointed out, MANY of them brought considerable wealth with them when they fled, and lots of that wealth they had earned or gotten in some way long before the exodus began. HEY -- I sure enjoy blogs like this that inspire and INFORM! Thanks again. . . :-)

  4. I enjoyed your post. Thinking about how the Israelites made the Tabernacle has always fascinated me.