We are well into the holiday season, moving quickly from Thanksgiving and making our way toward Christmas. Even amid the reality of COVID and its impact upon our days, the season is undeniably underway with music in the air. I pray that your Thanksgiving was a good one, even if 2020 required a modified approach to usual traditions. We are a blessed people, we who are called, beloved by the Father and kept for Jesus.
Many of us studied the history of Israel in the Book of Exodus. We learned of God’s everlasting attributes and took note of how He works in the circumstances of His people to make His name great. I have particularly been drawn to how God provides for His people. Repeatedly, God provides for His people, in abundance, in miraculous ways, and the people worship His great name.
Tucked within later Chapter 12 of Exodus are a few short verses; it is easy to miss them. Through Moses, God has previously promised freedom, and plunder of the Egyptians on the Israelites’ way out of town. Now it happens, we read, The people of Israel had done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
This may be one of the most incredible passages of Scripture. God, in His omnipotence, says through His servant Moses, “Ask them for their stuff, their best jewelry and Sunday ready clothes. Just ask these people that have enslaved you for 430 years, beaten rods across your backs in the hot summer sun. Ask them.” The Bible records the result, so they let them have what they asked.
I cannot think of a more demonstrable example of God’s provision. The Israelites ask their captors and receive. Shortly after, the Egyptians give chase once again. But for now, they open their treasure chests and give their best, seemingly, with joy. The Israelites depart Egypt with unleavened bread because they were thrust out; yet they leave with pockets full, bags stuffed, Egypt’s best.
We read no other details at this point in the narrative. It is much later in Exodus that we see the wondrous conclusion. Moses says to the people, This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. And a few short verses later, And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD.
The contributions poured in, Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it… God’s tabernacle would receive their very best, given to them by God, returned in worship. God didn’t take it from them, they offered it back as a freewill offering to the LORD. They offered in pureness of worship and thanksgiving for the wonders their lives enjoyed. The worship overwhelmed the artisans chosen to construct the tabernacle. Soon, The people were restrained from giving, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.
This story gives me pause amid the blessings my life enjoys, especially in these anticipatory days leading to Christmas. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. As I remember the blessings given to me, probably no less wonderous than those given the Israelites, how shall I respond to God in worship? While we cannot contribute to God’s tabernacle, there are many ways that we can worship the LORD through our giving.
Many in our community hurt; many in our community go without, many in our community lack the Gospel that we cherish. Our church supports these worthy endeavors and more; you support these worthy endeavors and more. Your partnership in the Gospel is surely changing lives.
Thank you, Audubon Baptist, we are members one of another. I pray that the greatest gift, the gift of Jesus Christ our Deliverer, may foster our worship of the Father, afresh this Christmas season. The lines have indeed fallen in pleasant places for us.
Peace to you, Pastor Jeff