God had brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. Now they are camped at Mt. Sinai. Moses is on the mount and the Lord is giving him instructions for the building of the tabernacle.
Exodus 25:1-2 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering: of every man that gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.
In the Hebrew the wording, concerning the giving, is slightly different, which is “whose spirit stirs them to give.” You can give an offering because you know you should and you can give it willingly, but to give it because your heart is stirring you to do it is something else entirely. When your heart stirs you, it is a work of the Holy Spirit.
Exodus 25:3-8 And this is the offering which you shall take of them;
gold, and silver, and brass,
4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,
5 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,
6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.
8 And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
The rams’ skins and the goats’ skins could come from their flocks and herds. The shittim wood came from the acacia tree that grew in the wilderness. It is called “incorruptible wood” in the Septuagint because it did not rot as other wood did. It represents the incorruptible nature that we receive from the Lord. The blue and purple are dyes that come from shellfish, and the scarlet comes from a worm. But where did they get the precious metals and stones listed in verses three and seven and the fine linen? The Egyptians gave them these things as they were leaving Egypt (Exodus 12:35-36). In a real sense, God supplied everything that was needed for them to build the tabernacle and all its furnishings.
These Israelites had been slaves all their lives. They had not known prosperity. Now they were a free people with flocks, herds, gold, silver, and precious stones. Many people would want to keep all their new possessions and not give them up. And God didn’t want anything from those that felt that way. But of those whose hearts stirred them to give willingly God said, Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them (verse 8).
When God sets you free, everything you need to build Him a dwelling place in your midst is at hand, everything is provided. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue. II Peter 1:2-3.
Making a sanctuary for the Lord is our responsibility. The first step is for each one of us to present ourselves unto Him for a dwelling place. The next step is in our dedication of oneness with the Body of Christ so that we become members of a many-membered sanctuary. Ultimately, it is the whole Body of Christ that is His unique dwelling place. Each of us does not become a sanctuary for the Lord in the sense that He has a lot of sanctuaries. The oneness of the Body of Christ is important, for it is there that the Lord commands the blessing (Psalm 133:3). He is calling us and gathering us together under His Lordship to be one Body with one spirit, to be one dwelling place for His presence. And the preparation for this is our responsibility. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. Revelation 19:7.
II Thessalonians 1:10-12 When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and
to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was
believed) in that day.
11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power:
12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was writing to the Church at Thessalonica. They were Christians; they had some kind of walk with God. He spoke very well of them. Earlier in his first epistle he spoke of their work of faith and labor of love (I Thessalonians 1:3). Then in II Thessalonians 1:3 he spoke of how their faith and love were growing exceedingly. They were a dedicated people. Yet Paul said, We pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling. Worthy of what calling? Worthy of being a sanctuary for the presence of the Lord, when He comes to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. As a church they were doing quite well spiritually. But being a part of the Lord’s sanctuary is not automatic because you’re a Christian. If it were so, Paul would not have been praying for them to be worthy of the calling. For example, all of the Israelites were God’s people, but it was only those whose hearts were stirred by the Holy Spirit that gave willingly for the building of His sanctuary.
Many Christians have a revelation of the Kingdom and the Body of Christ, but all do not have that stirring in their hearts. After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Word says that the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness (Mark 1:12). It wasn’t like, “Well, I know that it’s the Father’s will so I will go into the wilderness and let Satan tempt Me.” It wasn’t like that! He was driven! So it was for those who gave willingly for the building of the tabernacle. Their hearts were stirred. They were driven by the Spirit! A sanctuary for God had to be prepared. That is what Paul was praying about in II Thessalonians chapter one when he said, We pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling…that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him (verses 11,12). This stirring of heart doesn’t automatically come when you become a Christian. That is why Jesus said, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. Luke 13:24.
You know how the Lord dealt with the Israelites, sending them prophets. There was always a prophetic word. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: yet they hearkened not unto Me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck. Jeremiah 7:25-26. God dealt with them and dealt with them, and they would not hear. Because of their idolatry and hardness of heart they were crushed by the Assyrians and scattered. Years later the Jews of Judah and Benjamin were taken in captivity to Babylon for seventy years. After they came out God raised up prophets like Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The Lord did everything possible for them. As it says in Isaiah chapter five, He planted a vineyard with the choicest vine, cast out the stones, built a winepress in it, and instead of good fruit it produced wild grapes (Isaiah 5:1-4). It has been that way throughout the church age with many Christians. God has done everything to bless His people. And yet their hearts are not moved into the relationship that He wants with them. So much of Christendom, like Judah and Israel before them, has refused to become a sanctuary for God.
Paul speaks of how God dealt with Israel in the tenth chapter of Romans.
Romans 10:18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
God had raised up His servants the prophets, and they had proclaimed the Word of the Lord. Israel could not say they did not know. They were without excuse. And so it is with the church-world today.
Romans 10:19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses said, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
The Gentiles were any people other than the Jews. The Jews had an extreme aversion, scorn and hatred for Gentiles. They were regarded as unclean, and it was unlawful to socialize with them in a friendly manner. Yet God is saying, “I’m going to provoke you to jealousy. I’m going to take a people that you consider to not even be a people.”
Romans 10:20 But Esaias is very bold, and said, I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me.
Think about it. When you first opened up to the Lord and came unto Him, did it happen because you were seeking after Him? It didn’t with me. Something happened apart from my initiative. It was like an outside force drawing me to Him. Something opened my heart. I had not sought the Lord. I found Him without seeking for Him.
Romans 10:20-21 …I was made manifest unto them that asked not after
21 But to Israel He said, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
The Lord is saying, “All day long I’ve tried to bring you into a special relationship with Me, for you to become a sanctuary for Me, but you wouldn’t do it. Now, I’m going to move on a people that’s not even looking for Me, and I am going to provoke you to jealousy.”
Romans 9:13-16 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
15 For He said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.
Before Esau and Jacob had done anything right or wrong, before they were even born, God had made the decision, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. It is not of him that wills it or of him that runs or of the one that makes the greatest efforts, but it is the one that God chooses. It is the one upon whom He sets His grace and mercy. He says, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. God is saying, “You can’t move in this on your own. You can’t become a sanctuary on your own. It is only when your heart is stirred by My Spirit.” It was that way when you first became a Christian. And it works that way for each new level you come to. Many Christians have stopped with their initial step of salvation. Their hearts weren’t stirred to go any further. Some have stopped after receiving the Holy Spirit; others have received gifts of the Spirit and stopped there. Some have moved into New Testament Church Order and were not stirred to go any further. Now God is wanting a sanctuary to dwell in. Who will become His sanctuary? It will be those whose hearts are being stirred by the Lord. It is a stirring that goes beyond human desire. Jesus chose His disciples, and the God of heaven and earth is choosing the ones for His sanctuary.
Do you want to be a part of His sanctuary? You can’t earn it with good works. There is nothing you can do other than simply yielding to His Lordship. It is the humble and contrite heart that catches His attention. For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15.
Copyright © 2000 by Henry DuBose