Having loaded his people down with the treasures of Egypt, and having entered into covenant with them at Sinai, the Lord spoke to Moses and told him to take up an offering.
What was the purpose of the offering?
To build a holy place where God himself would dwell with his people. That was the purpose, and that would be the motivation. God who had shown his mighty arm, who had fought for his people and delivered them would live with them. God with them, or God with us, leading to the climactic end of the book of Exodus.
The offering was not compulsory, but voluntary. They had a new master, a good master, one unlike Pharaoh and the taskmasters of Egypt. He would be served by sincere desires and willing sacrifice.
The offering was not to be anything at all, but specifically what God wanted in order to build and furnish his house. This may seem capricious, but only if we do not understand God’s being and character. As meditate your way through the furnishings and structures and the meanings of all they will build, you will understand that God is not doing this in order to have a house according to his arbitrary tastes, but to set up a system of meanings about himself, ourselves, what separates us, and the solution that is coming in Jesus Christ.
And the offering was to be then turned into a sanctuary, a set apart place made not according to their best ingenuity, but according to a pattern that God would show them. It was a place revealed, and a place of revelation: the tabernacle itself revealed God’s purposes for his people.
This collection was the reverse of a bazaar, where all kinds of goods are displayed and the consumer comes and gets and takes away. What God had given them in Egypt, the Israelites now brought together and collected. They gave it to God and used it for God, so that God might have a place to live among them.
And that is a pattern for how we serve the Lord: from the heart, bringing what he requires, and using it as he directs. We find that when we do, just like the tabernacle did of old, we also accomplish God’s own purposes in the best way possible.