“God’s work is not man working for God; it is God’s own work, though often wrought through man’s hands.” (Hudson Taylor)
God graciously chooses to do His work through His people, enabling and equipping them to do what He desires them to do. His Spirit equips His people to do His work for His glory. We see this in the Lord’s instructions to His people for building the tabernacle. In this passage from the Book of Exodus (chaps. 25–31) we learn three essential and timeless truths about doing the work of God.
God’s work must be done in God’s way (Ex. 25:8-9).
God both defines what His work is (25:8) and reveals how it is to be done (25:9).
“They are to make a sanctuary for me,” the Lord told Moses. Then He added, “You must make it according to all that I show you—the pattern of the tabernacle as well as the pattern of all its furnishings” (25:9).
The Lord was clear about this:
- “Be careful to make them according to the pattern you have been shown on the mountain” (25:40).
- “You are to set up the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you have been shown on the mountain” (26:30).
- “They are to make it just as it was shown to you on the mountain” (27:8).
- “They must make them according to all that I have commanded you” (31:11).
Moses didn’t devise the plan. The craftsmen didn’t devise the plan. God devised the plan. It is still true that we must do God’s work in God’s way, according to the biblical pattern and principles He has revealed in Scripture.
God’s work must be done with God’s resources (Ex. 25:2-7; 31:3).
Hudson Taylor said, “Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
The construction of the tabernacle required two types of resources; God supplied both. First, the work required physical resources (gold, silver, bronze, etc.; chap. 25). It’s true that the Israelites contributed their offerings for the building of the tabernacle. The offerings they gave, however, had first been given to them by God in the form of Egyptian plunder (see Ex. 3:22; 11:2-3).
Second, the abilities for doing God’s work came from God. God equipped Bezalel with the power of His Spirit, which means God gave him “wisdom, understanding, and ability” (31:3) to do the tasks He called him to do.
Today, God gives us the gifts and abilities we need to do His work. Not everyone has the leadership gifts of Moses or the speaking gifts of Aaron. Not all gifts are glamorous (1 Cor. 12), but each believer is gifted for God’s purposes.
God’s work must be done for God’s glory (Ex. 25:8).
The tabernacle would be the place where God would dwell among His people. The word translated “dwell” in Exodus 25:8 is the same word is translated “settled” in 24:16, “the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai.” The word is related to the word shekinah. Therefore, the reason for doing the work was the glory of God.
Interestingly, the same resources and skills used in constructing a dwelling place for God were used to fashion a golden idol in Exodus 32:2-3. We need to ask ourselves: Are we worshiping the Giver of the gifts or the gifts themselves? Are we serving His purposes or our purposes? Are we using our God-given resources for His glory or self-glory?
Mike Livingstone is a content editor at Lifeway for Explore the Bible resources.