Have you ever suddenly received money you weren’t expecting? A larger-than-expected tax refund? A bonus? An inheritance? What a wonderful surprise it is when money or possessions appear out of the blue. There’s a great sense of freedom from financial stress and an even greater anticipation on how the money will be spent. Usually we make immediate plans for our new resources, for there are always things in life we’d like to have but can’t afford.
The Hebrews faced a similar situation during the Exodus; that is, sudden individual and personal wealth. What would they do with their newly acquired possessions?
What they did with that wealth may surprise us and serves as a great lesson concerning our relationship with those possessions and our relationship with God. We’ll begin
Read Genesis 15:12-14
Q: How many years before the Exodus does this revelation to Abraham take place?
A: Approximately five- to six-hundred years. According to Exodus 12:40, the Hebrews spent 430 years from the time of Jacob’s journey there to the time of the Exodus. Before Jacob, there was Isaac, and before Isaac there was Abraham who was 100 when Isaac was born and 75 when he arrived in Canaan and received the promise.
Q: How is the promise of “many possessions” confirmed in God’s meeting with Moses at the burning bush? (Refer to Exodus 3:19-22 to the left.)
A: The passage states that the plagues in Egypt will be so bad that the people will pay the Hebrews to leave! The point is that God had plans for the plunder even before Abraham.
Q: What is the evidence that the “plunder” of “many possessions” actually took place, and why were the Egyptians anxious to grant the Hebrews’ requests? (Refer to Exodus 12:35-36 to the left.)
A: In both Exodus 3 and 12, there is a cooperative effort between God and the Hebrews. Exodus 12:36 states that “the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians.” That was God’s part. But God commanded “every woman” to ask her (Egyptian) neighbor for the possessions, which they did (Exodus 12:35). Both were required for the Hebrews to acquire the possessions: God’s providential intervention and the Hebrews’ obedience. Had either not been done, the Hebrews would have left Egypt with only the clothes on their back.
Application: If you were a Hebrew, how would you have perceived the sudden accumulation of wealth? What had your life been like before leaving Egypt? What do you suppose the Hebrews planned to do with their new wealth? Would you have felt it was “pay-back time” or that you deserved the wealth having served so many years of oppression?
Read Eodus 25:1-9
Q: The plan for the plunder of the Egyptians becomes evident in these verses. What is God’s plan for the Hebrews newly acquired wealth, and what is God’s ultimate blessing for the Hebrews?
A: God desires to use the plunder from the Egyptians to “construct a sanctuary for Me.” That is, the possessions the Hebrews acquired are part of a great plan designed by God centuries earlier. The ultimate blessing for the Hebrews is that God Himself will “dwell among them.”
Q: Does God command each Hebrew to give up his possessions?
A: No. Verse 2 clearly states that it is a matter of the heart. There are always those who catch God’s vision and those who hold so tight to their possessions that the matter of God’s presence is not all that important.
Application: What are some additional reasons that someone might maintain a tight hold on their possessions?
Read Exodus 35:4-9 and 35:20-29
Q: What was the response of the Hebrews and why do you suppose those who gave, gave? In verse 21, how were those who contributed characterized?
A: Those who contributed are described as “everyone whose heart stirred him” and “everyone whose spirit moved him.”
Application: Discuss the parallels of Israel’s actions to today’s Believer. Do you see the similarity in giving over everything to Him to experience His presence in the wilderness of this present life so that He will lead you to the rewards and blessings of the Promised Land/next life? Do you see the parallels of devoting everything that you are and everything that you have to His service?
Read Exodus 36:2-7
Q: How had the plans for their newly acquired possessions from the Egyptians changed for many of the Hebrews?
A: Many, many Hebrews made God’s plans for the possessions their plans. They realized that God had a plan from the beginning, that the possessions would be of little value in the desert, and that God’s plan was better than their own. It is evident that many Hebrews caught God’s vision and plan for the possessions, for the workers had more than enough to complete what was to be the tabernacle where the presence of God would dwell.
Q: How were the Hebrews rewarded for their free-will offering? (See Exodus 40:34-38 below.)
A: The Hebrews witnessed the “glory of the Lord” will the tabernacle which was built with their own hands and their own possessions.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.
— Exodus 40:34-38
If you were one of the Hebrews who contributed to the tabernacle, how would you have felt when the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle?
How would you have felt if you had withheld your possessions, or used them in an inappropriate manner as some did in chapter 32, the making of the golden calf?
If you are presently giving to a church, mission organization or cause, are you giving from a “willing heart”?
If you are not presently in some form of giving, why not?