“…So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.” Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.
Exodus opens with the Israelites building for Pharaoh, and closes with the Israelites building for God. Having been saved from forced labor in construction, they freely give of their labor and their resources to build the tabernacle.
Construction of the tabernacle is a massive community-wide effort. The rest of Exodus 36 tells in great detail how the entire community comes together for this important project. Many are involved directly in the building process; many more give freewill offerings–so many in fact that Moses commands against making any more offerings because they had received so many (36:4-7). I don’t know about you, but that’s never happened at my church. The chapter is very similar in theme to the story of Nehemiah, particularly Nehemiah 3, where Israelite volunteers from all walks of life work to rebuild the ruined walls of Jerusalem. Both passages stress the broad-based grassroots nature of the construction.
As we, like Israel, freely give of our labor and resources for the establishment of the kingdom of God, are we working together? Do we believe that it takes everyone? It is not that God needs more people to get more done. He’s God–he doesn’t need anyone to get something done. But in calling us to build his kingdom as his people, he is also calling us to build up the edifice of community, not because he needs us but because it is for our good. After all, as we learn in the opening scenes of the Pentateuch, it is not good for man to be alone.