The children of Israel brought a willing offering to the LORD, every man and woman…
I. The spirit of the people was thoroughly DEVOTIONAL. It will result in no success whatsoever to attempt to manage the Lord's interests in a merely mercenary and marketable way. Any Church enterprise will fail if it only seeks to please a crowd, to fire the ambition of a denomination, or become a monument of personal pride. For this is not its end; its purpose is salvation of lost souls, and anything short of that is simply waste of money and zeal. We have heard it said that once the venerable keeper of the Eddystone lighthouse was completely prostrated by the wild conflict of the ocean during a violent storm which threatened to destroy the slender shaft of stone out in the midst of the waves. He joined the small company of his helpers in guarding the windows, defending the doors, saving the boats, fastening the broken chains, till he used up his infirm strength completely. They laid him down in one of the little chambers to die, for no one could be spared to watch. After a while they came to tell him the storm was abating; but, left for a moment, he had crept up the stairs to the lantern, and was there feebly trimming the lamps. "I was afraid some vessel might miss the light," he said in explanation. They told him, a little petulantly, that he might have spared his strength to help preserve the building. "No, no," he answered, with an anxious look out over the offing; "I was not put out here to save lighthouses, but to save ships!"
II. The spirit of the people was universally INDUSTRIOUS. Personal labour is more valuable often than money in the Lord's service, for it more surely carries the heart with it. There is an exquisite little story told us in the classics, of one Cressinus, whom the Romans arrested for witchcraft because he grew opulent on so small a farm. But he came to the judgment producing his tools, and displaying his hardened hands: "These are my sorceries," he exclaimed; "these implements of honest toil are all the witcheries I know of!" And they freed him on the plea. The eight fingers and two thumbs of Christians are the best ten friends that any congregation in difficulties ever has found under God.
III. The spirit of the people was self-sacrificingly LIBERAL. There was once a man who was prospered in business and grew wealthy. Then he lavished his fortune in house and equipage, and in all personal indulgence of self. He suddenly failed, and in shame and sorrow stood by while his furniture and pictures, his horses and plate, were scattered among strangers by the glib auctioneer. Some days afterwards he happened to be present at the dedication of a mission chapel for the poor, which a Christian friend had just erected. "Ah, how I wish," said he, as his memory told him of his improvident excesses in former times — "how I wish now that some of the wealth I wasted was invested here with yours in this building, which will be doing God's service long after I am forgotten!"
IV. The spirit of the people was prayerfully INGENIOUS. The principle of division of labour was carried into use among the people so that every sort of fitness should be put into service. Really, the rule appears to have been that every one should do the exact thing he could do the best, and give all he was able to offer in the line of unobtrusive contribution. There was certainly something for each man and each woman to do; and they all became alert to find out their vocation. It is remarkable to see how unconscious they are of any claim to special praise. There is no clapping of hands for each other; there is no plaudit from the skies. The famous statue of Phidias, called the Olympian Jove, was reckoned one of the wonders of the world; and the Grecian orators used to declare that on its completion Jove himself struck the pavement in front of it with glorious lightning in token of his approbation. This will do very well as a tale for a superstitious and self-seeking multitude. But our God never compliments human industry, nor flatters his creatures for simply doing their duty. They must be content to wait with the approval of their own consciences, and watch the rising of each fair enterprise like a tabernacle for God's dwelling.
V. The spirit of the people was enthusiastically AFFECTIONATE. Over and over again we are reminded that their hearts were in every case "stirred up," and their spirits were made "willing-hearted." It is not even worth while to delay in illustrating this point; for the whole after history shows that their success in such a vast undertaking came from the same temper as that which actuated the nation in after times when building the Temple: "The people had a mind to work." Therein is our very best lesson for modern endeavour.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.