20 Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 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. 22 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. 23 And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. 24 Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. 25 And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. 26 All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27 And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28 and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord. 30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34 And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.
For years I have heard people reference the 1987 film, “Babette’s Feast.” However, I have only recently watched it. It is a truly beautiful film that speaks of the power of love, of sacrificial giving, and of how such giving can bring healing and rejuvenation to an entire community of people. The Wikipedia summary of the story is quite well done:
The elderly and pious Protestant sisters Martine…and Philippa…live in a small village on the remote western coast of Jutland in 19th-century Denmark. Their father was a pastor who founded his own Pietistic conventicle. With their father now dead and the austere sect drawing no new converts, the aging sisters preside over a dwindling congregation of white-haired believers.
The story flashes back 49 years, showing the sisters in their youth. The beautiful girls have many suitors, but their father rejects them all, and indeed derides marriage…
Thirty-five years later, Babette Hersant…appears at their door…sisters cannot afford to take Babette in, but she offers to work for free. Babette serves as their cook for the next 14 years, producing an improved version of the bland meals typical of the abstemious nature of the congregation, and slowly gaining their respect. Her only link to her former life is a lottery ticket that a friend in Paris renews for her every year. One day, she wins the lottery of 10,000 francs. Instead of using the money to return to Paris and her lost lifestyle, she decides to spend it preparing a delicious dinner for the sisters and their small congregation on the occasion of the founding pastor’s hundredth birthday. More than just a feast, the meal is an outpouring of Babette’s appreciation, an act of self-sacrifice; Babette tells no one that she is spending her entire winnings on the meal.
The sisters accept both Babette’s meal and her offer to pay for the creation of a “real French dinner”. Babette arranges for her nephew to go to Paris and gather the supplies for the feast. The ingredients are plentiful, sumptuous and exotic, and their arrival causes much discussion among the villagers. As the various never-before-seen ingredients arrive, and preparations commence, the sisters begin to worry that the meal will become a sin of sensual luxury, if not some form of devilry. In a hasty conference, the sisters and the congregation agree to eat the meal, but to forgo speaking of any pleasure in it, and to make no mention of the food during the dinner.
…Although the other celebrants refuse to comment on the earthly pleasures of their meal, Babette’s gifts break down their distrust and superstitions, elevating them physically and spiritually. Old wrongs are forgotten, ancient loves are rekindled, and a mystical redemption of the human spirit settles over the table.
The sisters assume that Babette will now return to Paris. However, when she tells them that all of her money is gone and that she is not going anywhere, the sisters are aghast. Babette then reveals that she was formerly the head chef of the Café Anglais, and tells them that dinner for 12 there has a price of 10,000 francs. Martine tearfully says, “Now you will be poor the rest of your life”, to which Babette replies, “An artist is never poor.” Philippa then says: “But this is not the end, Babette. In Paradise you will be the great artist God meant you to be” and then embraces her with tears in her eyes saying: “Oh, how you will enchant the angels!”, which is precisely how the short story ends.
Yes, there is great power in giving out of the overflow of one’s heart. Babette’s sacrifice in the form of a truly beautiful and delicious feast brought focus, healing, and a sense of revival to the little sect of people. There is a particularly poignant scene in which Babette, aware that she has won a great sum of money, stands by the ocean and obviously determines that she will give a great gift to this little group of austere Christians. Her heart is stirred to do so. Sacrificial giving can create love. Likewise, a community of love will give sacrificially.
We see this same reality in the latter half of Exodus 35. Here, the people rally and give out of their hearts. As a result, the community is focused, healed, and revived.
The service that matters most is the service of a stirred heart.
Having charged Israel to be faithful and to build the tabernacle, we now see the result.
20 Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 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. 22 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. 23 And everyone who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. 24 Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. 25 And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. 26 All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27 And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28 and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.
Note that this entire section is bookended with “everyone whose heart stirred him” and “whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work.” This is a heart passage! The people of God came to work together out of the overflow of their own hearts. Indeed, the service that lasts is the service of a stirred heart.
Having heard the message and the call, “everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him” came together to build the tabernacle. That “everyone” is significant, as Victor Hamilton has explained:
The novel element here is that both men and women respond to the plea with their gifts, resources, and talents (vv. 22, 25– 26, 29).
We have not heard in Exodus from active women since Miriam’s song in 15: 21, and before that, since chaps. 2– 4 (the two midwives, Moses’s mother and sister, the Egyptian princess, Zipporah). Where women appear in the Sinai pericope, they are passive and merely spoken about (e.g., no sex with one’s wife [19: 15]; a father who sells his daughter as a slave [21: 7– 11]).
This stirring of the heart knew no boundaries, and all whose hearts were stirred came! They came with “contributions to be used for the tent of meeting [i.e., the tabernacle], and for all its service, and for the holy garments.” Meaning, the people came together to make God’s call for and instructions for the tabernacle a reality.
Notice too that those who came were “of a willing heart” (v.22). Out of their willing hearts they offered all that they had to the Lord. The NIV translation renders “offering” as “wave offering.”
22 All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord.
This is an interesting term and refers to a particular type of offering. Douglas Stewart has offered a helpful explanation.
In presenting these as “a wave offering to the Lord,” the people presumably appeared before the most visible symbol of Yahweh at the moment, which would have been the small, symbolic tent of meeting (33:7-11). There they presumably held up the items to “show” Yahweh that they were being donated (an act more helpful psychologically to the worshiper than to the omniscient God) and waved them back and forth. This is something of a necessary anthropomorphism: when humans want to be sure that someone else won’t fail to see something, they wave it back and forth. Here the Israelites wanted to be sure that Yahweh saw their offering, so they waved it just as they would if he were a human being standing there in front of them. This does not suggest that they didn’t think he could see well or was distant; it suggests that they understood very well that he was indeed in front of them (at least) and that they were indeed in his presence when they brought their offerings. The way they showed this faith was by doing what one does when one knowsthat anotherispresent and cansee, even though they could not…see Yahweh.
It is a beautiful picture. Consider the shocking contrast. Earlier, in their impatience with Moses and with God, the people had melted their gold and made a golden calf before which they dishonored themselves and the Lord God. Now, having come under conviction, their hearts are stirred and they bring their valuables to wave before and to offer to the Lord.
What is the cause of this change? Simply put, “a stirred heart” is the cause! And how were their hearts stirred? God Himself was the cause. He moved among their contrite spirits and stirred them to love, to gratitude, and, then, to action.
Tony Merida is certainly correct when he writes that “generous giving only comes from a heart that has been moved by God’s grace.” He then gives a powerful example:
God gives us a new heart as believers, and one of the inevitable results of that new heart is generosity. Robert Murray M’Cheyne once perceived a lack of generosity in his people and said this:
I am concerned for the poor but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you in the great day…I fear there are many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians, because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its life-blood than its money. Oh my friends! Enjoy your money; make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly for I can tell you, you will be beggars throughout eternity…
Has your heart been stirred by God? The image of stirring cannot help but bring to mind the pool of Bethesda from John 5.
1After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
When God stirred the waters of the pool they became healing waters. Similarly, when God stirs our hearts healing is experienced. Would you say that your heart has been stirred? Would you say that you have known and experienced the sacred agitation of heart and soul that leads to renewal, to transformation? Or is your heart cold?
“And I will give you a new heart,” said the Lord in Ezekiel 36:26, “and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
Pray for that! Call out for that!
Christ Jesus can give you a new heart and stir it to great acts of love and service!
The service that matters most is Spirit-filled and Spirit-inspired.
In Christ, however, the new heart walks hand-in-hand with the filling of the Spirit. We see this specifically in the skilled workers who used their talents to build the tabernacle.
30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34 And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.
Here we see Moses’ identification of Bezalel and Oholiab as skilled designers and workers. They would lead in the construction of the tabernacle. What we find here is a context-bound specific application of the filling of the Spirit but also a type of the greater coming of the Spirit that would be for all who call on the name of Christ.
Specifically, Bezalel and Oholiab were empowered by the Spirit of the living God to use their considerable skills for His glory. Hear the gifts that God gave them:
- the Spirit of God
Not everyone can do everything. There are a multitude of gifts and none of us have all of them. Bezalel and Oholiab were particularly equipped to do what they were called to do. In the church today, we see the same dynamic at work. Even so, while not every believer has every gift every believer has the one Spirit who alone makes every gift possible! Thus, Bezalel and Oholiab are types of the coming body of Christ, the Church.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes:
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Here we clearly see the variety-of-gifts-but-same-Spirit dynamic. In fact, the oneness of the Spirit that imparts these gifts is stressed time and time again in 1 Corinthians 12. What this teaches us is that, through Christ, we all have our part to play in building the tabernacle of God! We are not all Bezalel, but neither is Bezalel you!Yet you and Bezalel are both filled by the same Spirit of God if you have given your life to Jesus Christ. Therefore our offerings, while different, emanate from the same source of power.
A heart that is stirred and a life that is Spirit-filled: these are mighty tools in the hand of God!
Come. Joyfully wave your life before the Lord most High! Give Him all that you are and all that you have and He will use you mightily for the building of His Kingdom!
Hamilton, Victor P. Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary(Kindle Locations 18528-18532). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus. Vol.2. The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), p.756.
Merida, Tony. Exalting Jesus in Exodus (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (pp. 216-217). Kindle Edition.