Three Reasons we Give
Revival, Giving and the Tabernacle
This week’s Torah reading starts in Exodus 35. The tabernacle, which will become the central meeting and worship site for the Israelites, is going to be built. There is excitement. They have seen the miracles of God—the plagues, the Red Sea, and now Moses coming down from the mountain, shining from the glory of God. He brings them the Ten Commandments.
“Take from among you an offering for Adonai. Whoever has a willing heart, let him bring Adonai’s offering: gold, silver and bronze…” (Ex. 35:5 TLV)
The people respond enthusiastically.
“Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit was willing came and brought Adonai’s offering for the work of the Tent of Meeting and for all its service as well as for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women, everyone whose heart compelled him, and brought nose rings, earrings, signet rings, bracelets, and all kinds of golden jewels—everyone who brought a wave offering of gold to Adonai.” (Ex. 35:21-22)
We live in a day and age where we are reluctant to respond to such calls. And rightly so. There is so much corruption in ministries today that people are afraid that their gifts are not going to enrich the kingdom, but enrich some would-be king.
Not long ago, a media pastor asked people to buy him a luxurious jet—for the Kingdom. A few years ago he may have gotten his plane. But one of the beautiful things about social media is that it has given the regular guy a voice. And regular guys all over the internet said, “WHAT? Why in the world do you need a $65,000,000 jet?” Donors were encouraged to give at least $300 a piece towards the luxury jet, but the social media backlash was so intense, they abandoned the project (only to take it up again later).
By and large, believers want to be generous. But they don’t want to be abused. They want to give to the Kingdom of God. But they also want to make sure their giving is going to result in genuine fruit.
In Exodus 35, the people gave freely and liberally. Why? Three Reasons:
Generosity is a fruit of revival
By revival, I mean a visitation by the presence of God. In His presence, it is hard to be selfish. I saw this when I served in Pensacola at the historic Brownsville Revival. Not only did people give, but also they sacrificed in ways they would not have before the move of God, in order to be there. People quit good jobs and took lower paying ones to be in the revival. People moved from beautiful cities to the deep south, so they could go four nights a week to revival meetings. They were so hungry for God, and generous giving was a fruit of that hunger.
They trusted Moses
Because of the lack of accountability, the abuse of funds given by hardworking people and the lavish lifestyles that some in ministry live, many believers do not trust their leaders. Even though the vast majority of leaders in local congregations are accountable and want to do the will of God, we often only hear about the $65,000,000 jets.
The Israelites were a fickle bunch—my ancestors. One moment Moses was a hero; the next, they are talking about killing him. But at that special moment—after the golden calf incident and after Moses had gone back up on Sinai and came down glowing with the tablets—they knew Yahweh was their deliverer. And they gave. They knew that God was doing something special in the earth through them. And “everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit was willing came” and gave cheerfully.
We give to Local Projects
I made a mistake a few years back. We built a beautiful Coffee House at Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv. I didn’t want to be a burden on our people, so I raised all the funds outside the congregation. As a result, even though the project was a great success and we now have regular outreach concerts, the people did not own it initially. I never gave them the chance to. It was Ron’s project. Once it was built, they loved it, but I didn’t give them the chance to be part of the building.
People love to invest in their home congregation—especially if it is the consequence of growth. We are getting ready to embark on a $200,000 renovation so we can double our capacity from 150 to 300, and begin to livestream our meetings in Hebrew to the whole country—and Israelis around the world. Many in our congregation are barely surviving financially, but they will want to give to this. Yes, most of the funds will come from outside of Israel, but they will be a part of it—whether in giving or some other way. They will own it.
The people were excited to give to their tabernacle. This would be akin to their local congregation—except it would be mobile. They lived in a very religious world. They had to learn the hard way that there would no idols, no marking of their bodies in worship, or prostitution and no boiling of kids in their mother’s milk. There would be no child sacrifice. They were eager to worship their God, but they were steeped in pagan traditions. Now, with Moses’ guidance, they would give of their most precious possessions to see a beautiful tabernacle arise.
Take some time and read Exodus 35. It will encourage you.