35. Why do you trouble the woman?

Matthew 26:10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me.

Read: Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8 


Setting: meal time at the home of Simon the leper

Jesus, the Twelve; Mary, Martha, Lazarus present; Simon the host (maybe a leper Jesus healed), perhaps other guests also

Judas speaks, probably after some undertone discussion and consensus among the other eleven

flask of spikenard (300 denarii value), anointed Jesus’ feet (John), emptied the flask over his head (Matthew & Mark)

Person(s) being questioned:

Judas particularly, all the disciples included

talking like good Democrats, redistribution of wealth (imagine what sister Martha was thinking!)

Question behind the question:

why are you criticizing her

why do you think she did it

what does her action signify

why should I (Jesus) not take your criticism personally

Expected response:

not any proper response to give

acted according to their “worldview”, did not comprehend how it was wrong

only thing they could / should do: listen and learn

Jesus’ point:

compassion for less fortunate should be common part of daily life

special circumstances justify special actions

if Mary heard Jesus statement v.2, she took him seriously, believed what he said and understood what it meant… on some level

significance of anointing can be understood several ways:

anointing with oil shows great respect for an honored guest

what Jesus said: in anticipation of his upcoming arrest, trial, conviction, death – preparing for burial (anointing might not be possible when the time for burial actually arrived)

something that would rightly be done to signify Jesus’ true identity as Messiah, God’s Anointed One

second of three specific actions (or interactions) designed to encourage Jesus and ready him for his death: his transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31; his anointing; his angelic visitor in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43)

Modern Application:

Mary’s wise discernment – given good options, choosing the better or best one given circumstances

recognizing when to be extravagant and not neglecting responsibility – includes preparing for extravagance

includes when it is the proper response to perceived need for encouragement

Grace Abounding

Exodus 36:8-38:20 

The portion of Exodus describing construction of Tabernacle has an intimidating level of detail. Add to that… it duplicates information already given in earlier chapters. That in itself raises question – at time when written records nearly unknown, certainly not ones that could be easily transported (remember tablets of stone!), why would inspired writer repeat so much detail? Writer doesn’t say, certainly believe that God  expected his commands to be followed to the letter, is precisely what happened.

Amount of detail makes it easy to get so lost in trees as to miss beauty of the forest. Will try not to do that; instead, will endeavor to glean few gems from big picture. Might wonder about sermon title, Grace Abounding. Are in that section of Bible everyone recognizes as the Law. Aren’t grace and law mutually exclusive? Isn’t it either one or the other, not both? Not at all. Remember how God self-identified just 2 chapters ago:

“And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

God didn’t just say it with words, he went on to demonstrate mercy and grace, patience and goodness. Yes, God had given explicit instructions verbally and visually to Moses about constructing and using a worship space. Yet God condescending to accept worship from sinful people is profound and continuing act of grace. God further demonstrates grace by instructing his people to make him a place to live… among them. Then the greatest grace of all, God provides a way for sinful rebellious people to be forgiven, their sin atoned for that they could be reconciled to God.

A. God’s grace in accepting worship

starting place – structure first, working from inside out

inner curtains – sections of tapestry linked together covering  entire inside of the tent… featuring angels pictured on background of blue/purple/scarlet

tabernacle intended to be a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5) – interior decor an intentional reminder of heaven, true sanctuary and dwelling of God

as if God said: want to be as close to people as possible for their good, help them experience as much of heaven as possible

outer coverings – multiple layers: goats’ hair, ram skins, badger skins – practical reasons as well as symbolic in various colors/materials

protection from weather, insulation from heat… at same time not much to distinguish on outside from surrounding tents

glory of this tent to be who dwelt in it, what took place under its protection – worship, fellowship, forgiveness, reconciliation

walls – curtains dark, walls much different – reflective surface, multiplying light from 7-branched lampstand around the outer room

walls served to stiffen / stabilize entire structure, provide way to separate interior into two distinct spaces… Holy Place and Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place

door – veil – two rooms separated but in significant way: not a wall between, not even door that could be barred to prevent entrance into inner room

was only a curtain that separated… sufficient but without destroying sense of nearness, something God wanted his people to experience yet without compromising God’s holiness

then the furnishings

ark – the focal point of Most Holy Place – yes, contained eventually tablets, pot of manna, Aaron’s rod; what gets emphasis in Bible is the cherubim and the lid

numerous references later to God who “dwells between the cherubim” – all those cherubim on curtains reminder not only of heaven, also of cherubim inside Holy of Holies forming throne where God dwelt among his people

the lid would be place of atonement for entire nation one day each year – more on that later – don’t forget, atonement/forgiveness essential for holy God to accept worship from sinful people

table – where showbread, presence bread, would be placed – even today, breaking bread together signifies intimate fellowship

not limited to priests, why there would be 12 loaves of bread – God intended to receive worship from all his people

lampstand – God doesn’t expect his people to worship him in the dark… may not be able to see him, but we can know him

just as lampstand gave light to room, so God gives light to sin-darkened minds… enabling to worship in acceptable way

incense altar – sweet fragrance filled entire tent… including inner room – an offering to God, something any priest could do

followed by the outer courtyard – furnishings, then curtains

altar of burnt offering – a center of action in outer enclosure, directly in line between curtain at entrance gate and curtain at entrance to Most Holy Place

one entering at the gate being invited by God to worship… but not without sacrifice for sin first; and then opportunity for thank offerings, freewill offerings, all regular part of worship

laver – the one answering God’s gracious invitation to worship needs forgiveness and cleansing, washing from sin and its effects

God can graciously welcome worship from his people… but there are no shortcuts – must approach God on his terms

hangings and supports

another reminder: the one who has face toward God in genuine worship has turned away from allure of the world and its idols… leaving all that outside the enclosure

B. God’s grace in giving his presence

inner room in the tent where God will “live”

God intended to dwell with his people… but not put down roots – they were to be on the move, God would travel with them

commitment to being close to his people continually… because God wanted them… and they needed him… close by all the time

place from which God will rule

no hands-off approach for our God, not sitting idly by watching people do their thing – is actively ruling / governing his creatures

outer room a place for fellowship

to not have veil between would have been harmful to people yet… God still close enough so they could hear and feel him

went to next level with Lord Jesus – “the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” (John 1:14) then promised his followers “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

C. God’s grace in providing atonement

through the gate

once again, God not obligated to act as he has – could have kept himself inside walls with no entrance at all for sinful people

instead has graciously not fenced himself off, draws his people to him step by step along path of his design, making provision for them in their weakness

to the altar and laver

entirely of God’s invention, nothing man could or would have come up with – at this time, served as signposts pointing toward future reality known to God but not his people

yet they were more than simple pictures – sacrifice and washing were what God graciously accepted as outward signs of genuine love and sincere worship

showed also God’s commitment / intention to be worshiped by holy people… those who were truly holy inside and out

then the Holy Place

at that time only priests allowed in Holy Place to experience fellowship with one another in same tent with God but… God had something to say about that

you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” – time coming when all true worshipers would be welcome in Holy Place, eventually even in Holy of Holies… once the separating veil was torn in two

Everything about Tabernacle worship was real, God was abounding in grace toward his sinful rebellious people. While it was real, was reduced in scope and intensity until this side of the Cross. Now that Christ’s work of atonement is complete, accepted by his Father, one of his final promises is our reality:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23)

Because of Christ’s atonement we can individually and corporately experience God’s presence in us and with us. God’s grace abounds even more as we worship him together without need for further sacrifice for sin, enjoying his presence, hearing his voice as he speaks through his word by his Spirit. God’s grace is truly marvelous, infinite, matchless – O that more of friends and family might come to experience that grace.

The Vision of the Surveyor

Zechariah 2:1-13 

Surveying, GIS, mapping – how to measure: straight-line distance, follow the contours. Results depend on your perspective, tools used for measuring. Keep this in mind: idea of tabula rasa is wrong according to Bible. No one from before birth onward has mind that is totally blank. Means we all approach every subject / situation with some kind of preconception. Is important that preconceived ideas be informed by good input. Of crucial importance… when approaching God’s word, what happens when ideas / beliefs / principles we have and follow don’t correspond with the Bible? Do we allow God’s word to change our perspective?

In third vision prophet Zecharah experienced on that busy night, once again sees something designed to reorient his perspective on the future, in particular what God intended to do. Already know one thing about vision – designed to encourage Zechariah who would then declare what he saw/heard to fellow Jews… for their encouragement.

A. Image  v. 1

man with measuring line

different image of surveyor than what we might expect – are more familiar with surveying as 2-person operation, one with stick, other with transit

not that many years ago other tools were used, e.g. chains with carefully made links of specific dimensions – here, a rope of specific length… made so as not to stretch

in his hand – ready… but not in use – incomplete picture, made necessary for prophet to ask for help to understand – only thing obvious: what kind of professional, what he would be likely to do

B. Question   v. 2a

where are you going?

on the move, enough clues in vision to make this valid question, one we would ask under wide variety of circumstances

sent from… to…

could tell he was purposely headed somewhere – apparent from his demeanor even though origin and destination unknown

could surmise had been sent by someone to do task – who sent him, for what purpose had he been sent – obviously to measure something, but what and why


more than one-word answer would be welcome… and was forthcoming – anyone hearing question would know that, to give barest minimum answer often sign of “attitude”

curiosity on part of questioner rarely limited solely to destination… unless picking up a hitch hiker – most times will readily accept any / all information person is willing to offer

prophet gets start of explanation from surveyor – what he has to say, its significance an encouragement to Zechariah and people

but will see very soon: more to this than meets the eye – a plot twist in store for Zechariah, twist that will significantly change his perspective about what God presently doing, what God intends to do in future

C. Explanation  v. 2b-5


Jerusalem – center of Jewish life: social, religious, political, iow a significant element in functioning of family, church and state

pilgrimage feasts 3 times a year, only authorized location for sacrifice, meeting place for Sanhedrin (court) and home of king

picture of the church – all three institutions certainly affected by God’s comprehensive plan, not all of equal standing: church is foremost (Eph. 5:25)

must admit: if Jerusalem of Zechariah’s day an accurate reflection of church / God’s kingdom, things not looking very good!


surveyor declares intent to measure width / length of the city – first step to establish / re-establish a city, define boundaries

in just minimal response is clear to prophet: God by no means finished with Jerusalem and all it represents – God has a plan and is working his plan, also has a goal or end in view

remember condition of city: Temple would be completed March 12, 515 BC… wall surrounding city not completed until September, 445 BC… seventy years later

which raises question: what was the surveyor going to measure, where would he put in his stakes? marking present footprint of the city? or some other boundaries (larger or smaller)?

plot twist

prophet hardly has time to process information before scene changes – interpreter angel shows up, then another angel

interpreter angel going out to gather more information (perhaps) from surveyor but is met by another divine messenger – did he speak loudly enough for surveyor to hear?

wrong perspective – go tell the prophet he and his people have wrong idea about future of Jerusalem

small, undefended, few people, humble beginnings of replacement temple, wouldn’t have rubble cleared from Babylonian conquest for another 70 years but… that is limited human viewpoint

God envisioned something much different: prosperous well-populated community of people too large to be enclosed by walls

promise (5)

but wait, there’s more: God had (still has) way more in mind for his people than simple return to specific piece of real estate

this is language of covenant… God intends inhabitants of his city to be his people and he will be their God and… will include Gentiles as well as Jews!

God doesn’t intend reconstructed Temple or rebuilt city to be source of pride and glory – God himself will be the glory of his people… something not even dreamed about in modern Jerusalem

NOTE: this promise a general one, indicates God’s attitude toward his people, his enemies – promise includes specific future events, but not limited to them

certainly includes glory of coming Messiah to Jerusalem but not limited to that – looks beyond to glory of Christ in his church

D. Oracle  v. 6-13

warning (6-7)

God’s plan fully comprehensive – intends to bless his people, also to protect them… and vindicate them – show by how he treats their enemies that they are his people

judgment will come – seen already in “rise and fall of nations”, would continue but… recognize hand of God in directing those actions on world stage

side note: God not on sabbatical, is still involved in world affairs… including those of Koreas, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran

comfort (8-9)

don’t forget: God acts, he doesn’t react – all that takes place is part of his eternal plan, designed for his own glory and good of his people – is true whether we grasp details / interconnections or not

God acts for the sake of his own glory – glory of his grace as he cares for his people, glory of his justice in dealing with enemies

glory of his holiness as he makes his people holy; glory of his power in ruling and overruling forces of nations and nature; glory of his truth in bringing understanding / light to minds darkened by sin

each occurrence of God’s acting throughout course of human history skirmishes previewing and promising final battle and victory over sin and Satan and death… and its glorious eternal outcome

God’s people are his special possession – lit. “pupil of his eye”, Hebrew idiom, only here, can be understood with two senses

what is seen there is focus of vision / attention – people of God are ones he is primarily concerned with, focused on, attentive to, acting with regard for

one of most sensitive parts of body, instinctively protected and defended from harm… for good reason – God just as committed to protecting / defending his people

acting on their behalf brings him glory – think about circumstances of Jewish people, Christ’s church through centuries

overpowered by vastly superior numbers / forces, humiliated, marginalized, persecuted and killed – when God pushes back, his glory seen more profoundly than in matters of daily life

response (10-13)

praise – here is ultimate fulfillment of promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 15:5) – salvation extending far beyond Jewish people

worshiping community with God dwelling among / within his people “redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation”  (Rev. 5:9)

worship – praise, yes, and reverent silence because overwhelmed by majestic glory of conquering sovereign Lord of all creation

This glorious Lord carrying out his purpose through the church… the church in the wilderness, the church in Zion, the church of NT period. Church is “pupil of his eye” because God most supremely loves his Son, head of the church and one with his church, his body.

Several take-aways for us: must be sure are measuring right thing with right instrument – Christ’s kingdom from perspective and with standard of God’s word. In all circumstances, remember who we are – God’s people, his special possession with a glorious future.

God Provides Abundantly

Exodus 35:20-36:7 

The church in recent history on quite a pendulum ride, oscillating between extremes of emotional enthusiasm and intellectual dryness. Neither extreme good for health of the church – strong emphasis on mind and intellect tends to promote doctrine at the expense of love for others in daily practice. At opposite end of spectrum, appeals to emotions and showing love for fellow man often lead to diminished care and attention to sound doctrine. Neither extreme is accurate representation of model found in God’s Word the Bible.

God’s intention is that his people be totally involved in service to him, fully committed – thinking, feeling, doing – for God out of love for him. Several words repeated in our text, are important concepts that deserve close attention. One is ‘heart”, appearing 12x in these verses. As you probably guessed, not referring to 4-chambered muscle of amazing design God has placed in each humna being. Helpful description from Dr. K:

“The heart is a figure of speech that stands for the very core of man’s being, the very radix of his personality, the very hub of his nature, and the very essence of his I-ness. …In Scripture the heart is the spiritual center of the embodied human soul. It is the wellspring from which all of life and its activities originates, takes its cue, and receives its propulsion, spiritual as well as physical. As such it is also the seat and subject of the three internal functions of thinking, willing and feeling. It may neither be divorced from them, nor be identified with them, whether with one at a time or with all of them simultaneously. To do so would unacceptably blur the biblical teaching.” Krabbendam, Sovereignty and Responsibility

When God’s people are committed to loving God with heart, soul, mind, strength and are all engaged in his work, only eternity will tell whole story of what God will accomplish.

People heard God’s message from Moses, went back to their tents. From what is described next, is clear more going on than simply fellow with shining face lecturing crowd of people. Many of those who were there and went away came back different, changed from what they were before. Again, Dr. K, “the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart”.

A. matter of the heart

stirred hearts

more than just emotional response – everyone can identify experience… e.g. 5-Kleenex weepie kind of movie, one of wonders of the world, surprise birthday/anniversary remembrance

think about this – how long did your response to that experience last? what follow-on life-altering decision came from it?

if you are like most, remember it fondly… brag about it to friends… or on facebook… reminisce about it… rest of life stays pretty much same old

to action – not so for Hebrew children: had plans how they intended to use time, talent, treasure… all radically changed, within short time, without whining or complaining

no sales pitches, no robocalls, no roadside signs – went home and then came back with their hands full… of supplies, skills

both way of feeling and thinking changed, was demonstrated by action – no action, no real internal change

by outside influence – not case of talking to self, convincing self to do what was suggested… had already shown natural bent

for desires and choices to be directed away from loyalty to an idol toward something else required action by outside agent

NOTE: much as we desire and encourage friends / loved ones to change desires, choices, that kind of stirred heart can only be achieved by finger of God

willing hearts

to give –  when God is at work stirring up hearts of his people, needs of others take priority – in this case, was need of entire worshiping community, building portable worship center where God would meet with his people

God covered all the bases: gave people awareness of need, supplies to meet need, desire to address need, willingness to contribute toward meeting need

God’s people whose hearts God has stirred motivated by love for God to act because they want to do so – not for reward from God or people but because want to please the one they love, will use any opportunity to show love

wise hearts

to work – some had hearts “stirred with wisdom” – they had particular God-given skills that could be put to work at all stages

those who want to be involved hands-on in God’s work need other than human wisdom to meet expectations God has for his agenda, for advance of Gospel / Christ’s kingdom

NOTE: God’s work must be done in dependence on God’s wisdom if we are to expect God’s blessing – our wisdom not enough

B. and the hand

when advances his program, begins with hearts of his people, engages their minds, accomplishes his purpose through their hands

and… he uses people from all walks of life, all levels of society in his program – leaders and followers, men and women, old and young

generous hands

more than enough – not just a one-time offering, became daily practice: bringing offering continually each morning

didn’t bring little, ask “will that do, is that enough?” – stirred willing hearts are motivated to give lavishly, not foolishly

brought right things to right people to do what God intended, each one generous to extent of his/her ability

had to be told to stop – notice how God worked it out: make the need known, God stirs peoples’ hearts, they give w/o coercion until need is met

the way some Christian radio / TV personalities talk about money, would think every 10 verses in Bible must have something about tithing… hmm, not in my Bible

skilled hands

God lined up workers with two kinds of skilled hands – practiced and potential… those who had already worked in the field, those who had latent ability not yet tapped

already trained – those who had the skills already practiced, used in workplace, necessary for all the different kinds of work

ones who could work to a blueprint – give print with dimensions, specifications, they could bring to completion w/minimal supervision – good work ethic, too

already had tools, brought from Egypt, or knowledge/ability to make tools necessary to make required parts for Tabernacle

desiring and willing to learn – apprentices not singled out but… Bezalel and Aholiab equipped by God to teach others

shouldn’t slide over that point: “equpped by God” – see Ex. 36:1 – ” in whom the LORD has put wisdom and understanding”

probably all had what we call natural talent, the ability someone has to pick up a tool, intuitively know basics of how to use

but what set these workmen apart – were specially equipped by God for “work for the service of the sanctuary”

working hands

already employed – most described as “gifted artisans”, not professional students – had used their skills, had portfolio, callouses

could have done their part with contributing supplies, lion’s share of their gift to God’s work the labor of their hands

still true about God’s work today – need willing workers to be actively involved, using God-given skills and abilities for Him

knew how to work – far greater problem today than Moses’ time, as each day passes fewer people either know how or have desire to work

is only “natural” since Creator designed man for work, those he calls to do his work will know how (or learn) and desire to work and receive joy from doing good work

C. for the Lord

an offering to the Lord

transaction between individual and God – no one standing there at the collection point giving out receipts, making entries in a ledger… no list of donors published at the end

were not interested in personal recognition, no intention to make comparisons – and remember what Jesus said about the widow… gave the least..and the most

freely given according to heart’s desire… from what they had – gave what they wanted to give without restraint, or much consideration for tomorrow

already knew from experience could expect God to supply adequate food for tomorrow… when tomorrow came

for the Lord’s work

not a spec house – everyone knew worship space to be built because God said so, and he intended to use it to live with them

supplies brought, work done not for personal benefit of any individual involved present or future – entirely God’s work

nor Moses’ plan to leave a legacy – church not immune to such things: Herod’s Temple or Crystal Cathedral e.g.

according to the Lord’s direction

he directed the giving… and directed use of the gifts – from start to finish, was all the Lord’s work… abundantly providing materials, skills, motivation, desires for good of his people and his own glory

empowered by the Spirit of the Lord

necessary at all levels of involvement – from Moses and Bezalel and Aholiab right through ranks of all involved, was work of God’s Spirit – inciting, equipping, empowering his people for the work

God’s work done God’s way in God’s time by the directing and empowering of God’s Spirit will accomplish God’s purpose. Say again. Our task: make sure we are fully on-board – doing God’s work, not our own. His way, not our own. Directed and empowered by his Spirit. Satisfied that God has good purpose.

What Can I Do?

Exodus 35:1-19 

Someone calls your name, how do you respond? in thought if not in word? “What do you want” vs. “what can I do”. Your children always the first, you always the second! Then those times when you hear God calling, you figure it’s because he wants something. Do you wonder what you’ll have to give up, devote energy to that might be second choice. Do you think maybe he’ll want something you do not have or cannot give?

Little one wants to participate, help with what mom or dad is doing. Matt G, car project, 3 yo Avery w/toolbox handing something to dad. Open hand and smile? Too often response is “not now, you’re not big enough….” then 10 years later complain when they camp on the couch with earbuds in doing thumb exercises, room’s a disaster zone…. God doesn’t do that – provides opportunity, expects participation with child-like “I wanna help, what can I do?”

People had sinned grievously against God, through Moses’ work as mediator had been reconciled. Now time to move forward, demonstrate that were no hard feelings, no lingering consequences. God already made expectations known to Moses, in our text Moses declares God’s will to the people. Presented with voice of authority: “These are the things which the LORD has commanded you to do.” Something else equally significant: for everything that God expects, He provides everything necessary to satisfy his expectation.

In text and what follows, see first commandment in action: Deut. 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” God both instructs and equips his children to do that. And… don’t forget – these aren’t suggestions, weren’t understood that way by Hebrew children. Repeated phrases like “the Lord has commanded”, “you shall”. At same time, highlight / underline middle of verse 5 – “whoever is of a willing heart”. Might wonder what all this has to do with us in 21st century – not our job to build Tabernacle worship center like one fabricated at base of Mount Sinai. You’re right, our task to be about building something far grander – Christ’s kingdom that stretches around world in all directions.

Like us, ancient Israelites needed strength for the work, stuff as raw material, and skill to produce what God designed to be place devoted to worship.

A. strength  v.1-3

right priorities

not a stretch: biggest Boss says “get to work” means just that, and… don’t think about stopping till job is done – this is #1, no #2

God leaves no doubt about nature of work week – yes, are to work six days, but only six… not 6-1/2 or 7 days like many try

aren’t to be exceptions for crunch time either – Ex. 34:21 God can supply need even if Charlie Lopresti predicts thundershowers on your hay, frost on your pumpkins… but you gotta honor God’s timeclock

work and rest both essential

number of reasons given for observing one day in seven – Creation ordinance, day devoted to worship, dire consequences threatened for failure to observe

primarily in view here: we are unique beings created according to God’s comprehensive design with innate potential for incredible diversity – how many people do you know, hundreds / thousands, can distinguish w/o labels

not biological machines built like electric motors rated for 100% duty cycle – God makes plain designed us for both work / rest

rest necessary for good work

every wise manager, every good teacher understands – tired workers, tired students do not perform well, not at best of ability

from employer’s POV, quality of product goes down, scrap rate goes up, potential for personal injury increases with fatigue

to be at full strength, to do best work people need rest – not like ’37 Dodge pumper, 5 gal. gas cans, run continuously for several days during 1947 fire, no harm to vehicle

expectation comes with implied promise: when we follow God’s expectations, that one day in seven will supply rest and refreshing God intends… fitting us for work of other six

Song: Give of Your Best to the Master… can do that when we properly utilize God’s provision to renew our strength regularly

and… God wants us to give from strength he supplies to do our best work; does not expect us to give what we don’t have

B. stuff  v.4-9

from what you have

what is not said as important as what is: not go get / make / borrow / buy something to put in the plate, IOU’s not expected or accepted

were expected to take from what they already had, give from that to need for building tabernacle… remember its source

Ex. 12:35-36 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

what did God want? for Hebrew children to give to him from what they had that he had supplied – notice God didn’t ask for money

was stuff they had been given by Egyptians, had packed, had carried with them all the miles from Egypt, what they had personal stake in – not intended to be some kind of arm’s-length commercial transaction

with a willing heart

The root ndb connotes an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service or sacrifice. …sacrifice made out of devotion, not out of precept or promise” TWOT

given because giver wanted to give as an act of love – motivation not one of right/wrong, perceived benefit or payback, simply love… kind of love God showed when he gave his Son

only two parties that mattered: giver and God – not done for benefit of, in competition with, for notice of anyone else

notice, too: no stipulations for who should bring what, no stated expected giving level – God would, through freely given offering of his people, supply right resources in right quantity to accomplish God’s purpose

read ahead, come next week to find out how well that worked

for a range of uses

no surprise, construction project of this design and magnitude had long / varied list of required materials – we read the basic list

included not only materials to make everything according to plan, God’s list covered consumable supplies to get started: oil for lights, oil with spices for anointing, spices for making incense, ingredients for showbread

nothing forgotten or overlooked, no last minute scramble when Tabernacle first setup – and… God didn’t overlook anything months before in Egypt when all first given to Hebrew children

C. skill  v.10-19

no supply house

couldn’t grab latest CBD catalog, start ordering; had not come from culture with things that could be repurposed for Tabernacle

required everything to be both made and assembled on site – only one solution: God must have supplied people with tools and necessary skills to meet need

all “local” talent

not like later Temple, hired help – no provision for bringing in outsiders for specialized tasks, would be accomplished entirely by Hebrew children… “gifted artisans among you

skilled labor just like materials for supply list – to be given freely out of love for God… who supplied skill like everything else

a wide range of skills

participation not limited to select few – aside from Moses, only two others identified by name: Bezalel and Aholiab… too many others to properly credit

think about what would be manufactured: furniture, jewelry, clothing, structural items, and more – all kinds of people with all kinds of gifts would be put to work

Were opportunities for everyone to be involved in service to God at building of Tabernacle. Note carefully how it worked: each gave from love for God out of what he or she had been given by God. Said at beginning: we have far grander task – doing our part to build Christ’s kingdom that stretches around world in all directions. It starts with home, church, community… place where God has put you, skills he has given you, resources he has entrusted to you, strength he supplies you day by day.

Question for each one then is this: given all that, what can I do? What skills do I have and where are they needed? What resources do I have and where can they be used? How should my strength be best directed in service to God because I love him? If your love has grown cold, ask God to warm it up. If your confidence in God has become weak, ask God to strengthen your faith. If you are unsure of what God would have you give, ask God to make it plain. If you love the Lord Jesus, you are part of his body and every part is essential. You have something to give to him.

Four Horns and Four Craftsmen

Zechariah 1:18-21 

Remember circumstances of target audience: church whose territory had become pawn in international chess game, moved around at will by overwhelming and oppressive powers. Often at mercy of “local” officials with little regard for national policy. Zecharaih’s task: serve as God’s messenger to his people to give them “heart”, inspire hope for the future, help them to take the long view.

Current thinking often does not have adequate perspective – want life to work like short story. Basic elements: characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Goal is that things of concern to us go from setting and plot through conflict to resolution in hours / days / weeks at most. Cannot bear thought of situation not reaching resolution for years, or maybe not even in our lifetime. Want them fixed by end of next election… or sooner.

Yet think about Jewish people – troubles started in earnest during 8th century BC. Period of back and forth, then serious assault, final overthrow of northern kingdom 722 BC. Was inevitable (because of human stubbornness) that southern kingdom would also eventually be overcome. Included destruction of crown jewel, Temple and surrounding city. Then captivity, eventual return, process of restoration and rebuilding. From Assyria’s first serious move against Israel until night of Zechariah’s vision, more than 200 years elapsed… and replacement temple not completed yet… and would be nearly 75 years more before Jerusalem secured again.

No surprise God’s people needed encouragement… and so do we. Drawn out pace of movement in God’s eternal plan not excuse for his people to slack off, far from it. Must be actively diligently carrying out tasks God has assigned, confident God has a plan and is working his plan. At same time, should not be put off or discouraged by unfavorable appearances, or opposition by God’s enemies. Also should not be surprised by opposition – Satan may be on a leash, but he is not without power and resources. Will never give up attempting to overthrow Christ and his kingdom.

Don’t know if Zechariah given opportunity to take notes, write down important points from one vision before experiencing another. In any event, next one follows soon on heels of first and is closely connected with it. The scouts finished their reconnoiter of earth’s kingdoms, brought back report, God not pleased. In fact was “exceedingly angry with the nations at ease” (Zech. 1:15). Interpreter-angel goes on to explain God had good intentions for Jerusalem and Zion. But… does not indicate what God’s plan is for nations he is angry with. Follow me.

A. Image  v. 18, 20

four horns

primary usage of word qeren – animal horn, ram or wild ox e.g.; also used frequently for “horns of the altar”, projections at each corner of brazen altar

can be used/understood in symbolic way, a metaphor indicating might or power or strength – think how animal with horns uses them to dominate others

similar imagery in our expression “lock horns” over something – two people engaged in test of wills or strength, only one winner

four craftsmen

word used of various kinds of craftsmen, artisans skilled in working with various materials – wood, metal, stone, fabric – and varying degrees of intricacy – carpenter/cabinetmaker, blacksmith/jeweler…

in each instance, artisan takes particular kind of material which he then forms and shapes into something else, often radically different from original – thread into tapestry, e.g.

significant that craftsman does not ask permission of “raw” material, no input from material as to what it wants to be made into

B. Question   v. 19, 21

what are these?

prophet continues humble spirit of teachability – asking questions, seeking further understanding, and is very open about it

doesn’t try to take credit for more understanding, lets whole world know he asked for help – good to remember!

asked interpreter-angel tour guide to explain not only what he was looking at… wanted to know meaning and purpose

wanted to know what was represented by four horns – being a PK, probably had some ideas but wanted to be sure

what are these going to do?

vision obviously did not show craftsmen in action – would not be the range of translations in that case: carpenters, blacksmiths, artisans, workers with hammers

by time he saw the craftsmen, Zechariah knew what horns represented – without action, could not go beyond that with certainty

would horns prevail over craftsmen? craftsmen harness all four together? carve them into different shapes? throw them on ash heap of civilization?

C. Explanation  v. 19, 21

enemies of God’s people

Zechariah receives answers to his questions, sufficient for him and his audience, although we might prefer some additional details

first question: four horns represent enemies of the Jews – those who were involved in large portion of population being displaced

remember: this was all according to God’s’ plan… discipline for his people because of unfaithfulness to him… and used nations’ natural enmity for that purpose

tempting to assign names to each of four horns: pick from Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome – all involved in some way in Israel’s humiliation

truth is… whether seeking identity of four horns or four craftsmen, God saw fit to remain silent… and really is better that way

God’s answer

like with identities, God withheld information on what method craftsmen would use when they acted on his behalf

instead, describes effect of their labor – those nations presently at rest, thinking they had prevailed over God’s people, they would become displaced people, turned out of territory they had acquired

nothing left to chance – according to God’s purpose his enemies would be thoroughly humiliated and defeated, something that would cause them great terror

important to note: aggression against people of God always includes offensive behavior directced toward God himself, something he takes personally and seriously

poster child for that in NT – Acts 9:1-4 – “Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”… “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

D. Oracle

no formal oracle, however…

are some take-aways: first, about the names of the nations – Zechariah’s countrymen would have understood who was meant, would have been encouraged by the message of the vision

since some details purposely omitted, shows intent for people in other times and places to receive benefit from what God showed prophet… people like those of 1st century church… and 21st century church

comfort for all ages

important to reinforce – people of God in all ages have enemies… starting with Cain… continuing until Second Coming when Christ puts an end to all rule and authority and power, and will have subdued all his enemies (1 Cor. 15:20-28)

notice significant detail from vision: for every horn there is a craftsman – for every enemy of God and his people that comes from 4 corners of earth, God has appointed means of dealing with it

point to remember: it is never safe to oppose Christ and the advance of his kingdom, is never safe to oppose Christ’s church

Christ will meet every force raised to oppose building of his church and subdue it – how he chooses to do so is his business

God intended his church, place of worship in Jerusalem should be rebuilt. Sent his prophets to encourage his people to carry on the work… confident God would make sure they succeeded. Lord Jesus assured his followers he would build his church and even hell’s gates cannot impede its progress. Regardless of particular circumstances, how things might look, we must press on and do the next thing. We may see the results, it may be reserved for future generation. Either way, God takes care of his own, supplying their need, ensuring the outcome of their labor for him will serve his eternal purpose.

Moses, Your Face!

Exodus 34:29-35 

Second time Moses spent 40 days on mountain (Exod. 24:18; 34:28). Each time Moses came from God’s presence, Moses was different, he was changed. Is the very nature of encounter man has with God – God never changes but man cannot experience God and not be changed by encounter… either for good or not. One way or another, results of that experience will be obvious, often to others first. How it was with Moses – Aaron, children of Israel recognized difference in Moses before he did.

Moses asked to see God’s glory… was refused. Yet did experience goodness of God, up close and personal, presence of God for 6 weeks. God’s glory grew on him and in him, came to show on outside in dramatic way. Was not permanent, over time glory faded away. Might think God’s glory not something accessible to us, Paul had different idea.

A. glory grows  v.29

couldn’t stay on mountaintop forever – numerous reasons why might want to: what better place on earth to be, soaking up everything possible from God… who knows what talked about between times

had unfinished assignments – much unfinished business with Hebrew children: God’s designated leader for next 40 years, few hundred miles… to get to Canaan

of immediate significance: the two tablets, what they signified for the covenant… and relationship between God and people

and there was worship center – complete plans in Moses’ mind, nowhere else… yet – Moses needed to oversee that project

much as might not like idea, Moses was key to Israel’s “success”… by God’s design intent – Aaron lacked proper character, Joshua lacked experience and maturity… at that time

time in God’s presence preparatory inter alia

first one to benefit from stay on mountain was Moses himself – no child of God can spend time with God and not be better for it, blessed by it, often in ways you can’t put into words

thinking and feeling toward God and fellow man being molded – most helpful for one who would represent God to people, people to God – their survival depended on it, this life… and the next

people would assume much about character of God from how his representative presented Him – would assume much from how representative responded to them

Moses not conscious of all that was happening

pretty typical kind of person in many ways – life experiences used by God to shape us into people we are, don’t think about details of the process too much… while it is happening

am sure Moses did not take inventory on day one, then day forty, check to see what might have changed

certainly true about appearance… had no idea what was different – apparently too attentive to other things to take selfies

certainly did not come down mountain intending to use newly acquired appearance to intimidate or manipulate people

had to call back over after they ran away, probably asked “what’s up?” – response, “Moses, your face! what’s with that?”

B. glory shows  v.30-32

far more than cosmetic difference

not the glow of good health and fresh air enhanced by Product X, Y or Z – not case of good lighting, creative image editing

is not only the result of spending time up the mountain with God – if that’s all it were, would have happened his first trip for 40 days

2nd time up: Moses in different place – greater sense of need both he and people had: need for God, forgiveness, guidance

Moses had different desires – specifically requested more of God and his presence for himself and people – God obviously answered his request… abundantly

demonstrated natural man’s response

fear the emotion identified – people including Aaron not sure about: who person really was, what happened to Moses, what his attitude and intentions toward them might be

would have been similar response if pillar of fire touched down in center of camp – people had desire for distance, didn’t want to be too close to Moses’ God – were concerned mostly for personal safety

without realizing, people making good case for a mediator… again / still – Ex. 20:19 “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

could maybe manage dealing with a go-between, did not really want dealings directly with God – ok for Moses, not for them

and Moses ok to deal with… so long as he wasn’t too much like God – didn’t really want God’s light uncovering their sinfulness

glory for their good, too

cuddle calf 24/7, no joy – little “g” god could / would give nothing of substance – could not lead, protect, provide… not even as much as “real” living calf

if true God represents greatest good, then what he shares of himself with his people must be good – Moses changed… for the better, by time spent with his God – would never happen with their god

that Moses took evidence of God’s favor with him showed God intended his people to share in / benefit from his goodness

C. glory fades  v.33-35

fades with time and distance

not permanent change in Moses or his appearance – brightness of his face not something Moses generated, source as we know: God

ongoing reminder: if people were to need mediator, could really use a better one than Moses – no disrespect to Moses, but… remember who he was, that he foreshadowed / typified Lord Jesus

primary purpose: validate Moses’ message

change in Moses’ appearance intended to cause people to respect Moses because of who he had been with, whose message he was bringing back to them

wasn’t Moses who re-wrote on tablets, was God – message of comfort and hope Moses brought from mountain ultimately came from God himself, not simply something Moses made up

required frequent regular “restoration”

for Moses to continue role as effective mediator, had to be w/i arm’s reach of God – standing between people and God, with his hand on each

only then, when in God’s presence, God’s glory would be restored to Moses’ face – regular confirmation to people was indeed God’s commands he communicated to them

D. glory to glory  2 Cor. 3:18 

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” NIV

believers see God’s glory in Christ and the Gospel

glory appearing on Moses face one that apart from God’s immediate presence was continually fading – Paul envisioned different kind of glory, one continually increasing in clarity and intensity

source of that glory: God who has revealed himself in his written word, most clearly in his Son the Lord Jesus displayed in Gospel

was his goodness that God showed Moses, that made his face shine – God’s goodness shown most powerfully to us in his completed plan of redemption

Holy Spirit removes the veil from our understanding

we see ourselves in mirror of God’s word as we really are – there we also see beauties / glories of Lord Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension

those without the aid of Holy Spirit cannot see that glory, have no desire to see it, when confronted with it will respond as Israelites

glory revealed in written and Living Word transforms

by power of God’s word and ministry of his Spirit, people of God are day by day being transformed into likeness of Christ

transformation taking place in us will be obvious on outside – “Christians stand unashamedly before the world, reflecting in their own lives the glory of Christ beheld in the Word of God. And far from a fading glory, their glory is ever-increasing as they are changed more and more into the likeness of Christ.” Reformation Study Bible

Acts 4:13 “When they [members of the Sanhedrin] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus.” NET

Worthy goal for believers in this life: that people of all kinds would be amazed by our boldness and recognize that we have been with Jesus. We have rest of the story… and we have helping ministry of Holy Spirit in way OT saints did not – transformation God brings about in us is to eventually be permanent. Evidence of God present working in and through us to make us more like Jesus to be on increase day by day. Will be finally and fully accomplished on that day when we stand before Lord and Savior complete, able to see his glory in all its splendor… forever!