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The First Sacred Tent

It's funny, nowhere in the Bible does it say churches ever got a financial break or "free" help. Everything was done with great faith and generosity. Today, almost every church feels they're due a special "church price" and free help. Have we forgotten about true faith and generosity?

In The book of Exodus, we're told the story of how the first Sacred Tent was built. Before it could be built, God told Moses what to build, how to build it, and to tell the people that anyone who wanted to contribute anything to the project could do so.

Read the verses below; these are taken from the King James Version of the Bible, one which we all are familiar with in some regard and is well respected for it's true translation. I've added a few of my own comments in red.

Exodus 35
First, Moses explains to the people what the Lord commanded to be done. This includes what He asks of the people to bring, and what He wants them to build.
4 And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This [is] the thing which the LORD commanded, saying,
5 Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever [is] of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass,
6 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' [hair],
7 And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood,
8 And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense,
9 And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate.
10 And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded;
11 The tabernacle, his tent, and his covering, his taches, and his boards, his bars, his pillars, and his sockets,
12 The ark, and the staves thereof, [with] the mercy seat, and the vail of the covering,
13 The table, and his staves, and all his vessels, and the shewbread,
14 The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light,
15 And the incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the door at the entering in of the tabernacle,
16 The altar of burnt offering, with his brasen grate, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot,
17 The hangings of the court, his pillars, and their sockets, and the hanging for the door of the court,
18 The pins of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and their cords,
19 The cloths of service, to do service in the holy [place], the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office.
Now that the word has been given, we wait to see how the people respond.
20 ¶ And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.
21 And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, [and] they brought the LORD'S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.
22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, [and] brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered [offered] an offering of gold unto the LORD.
23 And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' [hair], and red skins of rams, and badgers' skins, brought [them].
24 Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the LORD'S offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought [it].
25 And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, [both] of blue, and of purple, [and] of scarlet, and of fine linen.
26 And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' [hair].
27 And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate;
28 And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.
29 The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.
So the people gave, as was requested by God. Actually, the text says "I would welcome an offering from anyone who wants to give something" (Exodus 35:5), it doesn't say the people were commanded to give, it doesn't say the people were threatened that they must give. Rather, it gives them the option to give if they feel they want to.
30 ¶ And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;
31 And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;
32 And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
33 And in the cutting of stones, to set [them], and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.
34 And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, [both] he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
35 Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, [even] of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.
Here we learn who was hired to head up all of the different aspects of the project; a person who was filled with the spirit of God in many ways. He was to teach others how to do these tasks as well; he wasn't expected to do it all himself.

Exodus 36
1 ¶ Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.
2 And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, [even] every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:
3 And they received of Moses all the offering, which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, to make it [withal]. And they brought yet unto him free offerings every morning.
4 And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made;
5 And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.
What's this?! The people are giving too much?
6 And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing.
7 For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.
Not only did the people give willingly, not only did they give enough for the project to be completed, they gave so much that the workers had to tell Moses to tell the people to stop giving, they had more than enough to complete the project! Read verse 7 again, "For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.". It was TOO MUCH! How often does this happen today?

This wasn't any old tent and furnishings that was built, not at all! This portable structure was made of the finest materials possible and by the best craftsmen around. Is this any indication of how we should go about building our present day churches?

No one said "Why build it with such expensive materials when it's only portable?". No one said "Why build it to last a long time when we know we won't be here much longer?". No one had to plead over and over for more people to give; Moses didn't have to go through the speech of "only 20 percent of you are giving toward this project, all of you should be involved".

Are we to build a giant castle to worship in, complete with lots of solid gold decorations and other expensive articles? Not necessarily. But we should be building in such a way that reflects the use of our wisdom when it comes to raising funds and construction techniques. Why build a church in such a way (with cheap materials or using poor construction methods) which mean the structure has to be repaired in 5 years at a great cost? Shouldn't we use the best that we can to ensure the building stands strong for 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years with very few repairs, if any?

Most Christians will tell you that the Bible is our instruction book from God Himself. If this is the case, why don't we take His instruction on building and raising funds for a project to heart? This example in Exodus is only one of many. Not listening to such instruction and advice limits what we can do and in effect says we don't believe all of what's written in the Bible. Very few people look at scripture like this and see what we're being told. More people need to read the Bible in such a way that they glean all of the information and instruction out of it as possible. We need to ensure we're not neglecting to see certain aspects which, if we followed them, would greatly improve what we're capable of doing.

-Blake Engel,
All Church Sound