They Did Jehovah’s Will
A Voluntary Offering to Advance Pure Worship
THE Israelites were eyewitnesses of Jehovah’s saving power. They saw the waters of the Red Sea miraculously divide, allowing them to cross on dry ground and escape the Egyptian army. On the other side, they watched from a safe distance as those same waters came crashing in upon their pursuers. Jehovah had saved their lives!—Exodus 14:21-31.
Sadly, though, some Israelites took for granted what their God had done. While Moses was on Mount Sinai, they presented their gold jewelry to Aaron and demanded that he make an idol for them to worship. Upon returning, Moses found this crowd of rebels eating, drinking, dancing, and bowing down to a golden calf! At Jehovah’s direction some 3,000—likely the prime instigators of the rebellion—were put to death. That day, God’s people learned an important lesson about the need to give Jehovah exclusive devotion.—Exodus 32:1-6, 19-29.
Soon after this incident, Moses got ready to carry out God’s command to build a tabernacle, a transportable tent of worship. This construction project would require expensive materials and skilled laborers. From where would these come? And what can we learn from this Bible account?
Contribution of Materials and Skills
Through Moses, Jehovah commanded the Israelites: “Take up a contribution for Jehovah. Let every willing-hearted one bring it as Jehovah’s contribution.” What type of contribution? Among the items Moses listed were gold, silver, copper, yarns, fabrics, skins, wood, and precious stones.—Exodus 35:5-9.
The Israelites had more than sufficient means to make such a generous contribution. Remember, when they left Egypt, they took with them articles of gold and of silver, along with many garments. Indeed, “they stripped the Egyptians.”* (Exodus 12:35, 36) Previously, the Israelites had willingly shed their jewelry to make an idol for false worship. Would they now show themselves just as eager to make an offering to advance true worship?
Note that Moses did not stipulate a precise amount that each one should give, nor did he use guilt or shame to motivate the giving. Instead, he simply appealed to “every willing-hearted one.” Moses evidently felt no need to coerce God’s people. He was confident that each one would give all that he or she could.—Compare 2 Corinthians 8:10-12.
However, the building project would require more than a donation of materials. Jehovah also told the Israelites: “Let all the wise-hearted ones among you come and make all that Jehovah has commanded.” Yes, this building project called for skilled labor. Indeed, “every sort of craftsmanship”—including woodworking, metalworking, and jeweling—would be needed to complete this project. Of course, Jehovah would direct the workers’ talents, and credit for the success of the project would rightly go to him.—Exodus 35:10, 30-35; 36:1, 2.
The Israelites eagerly responded to the invitation to give of both their resources and their skills. The Bible account states: “They came, everyone whose heart impelled him, and they brought, everyone whose spirit incited him, Jehovah’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments. And they kept coming, the men along with the women, every willing-hearted one.”—Exodus 35:21, 22.
Lesson for Us
Today the monumental task of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom is accomplished by means of voluntary donations. Often, these are monetary. In other cases, Christian brothers and sisters use their wealth of experience in helping to construct Kingdom Halls, Assembly Halls, and branch facilities. Then there is the work done at more than a hundred Bethel homes around the world, work that entails many different skills. All willinghearted ones who have made such offerings can be sure that Jehovah will not forget their hard work!—Hebrews 6:10.
The same applies to the share that each of us has in the Christian ministry. All are urged to buy out time to have a zealous share in preaching. (Matthew 24:14; Ephesians 5:15-17) Some do this as full-time evangelizers, or pioneers. Because of circumstances, others are not able to spend as much time in the ministry as a pioneer. Nevertheless, they too are pleasing to Jehovah. As with the tabernacle contributions, Jehovah does not specify a precise amount that each one should give. What he does require, though, is that each of us serve him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) If we are doing that, we can be sure that he will reward us for the voluntary offerings that we make to advance true worship.—Hebrews 11:6.
This was not thievery. The Israelites asked for contributions from the Egyptians, and these were given freely. Besides, since the Egyptians had had no right to enslave Israel in the first place, they owed God’s people wages for their years of hard labor.