“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. … And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:1-2, 8
As the children of Israel had left the cities of Egypt the people of Egypt came out and gave to them gifts of gold, silver, and other valuables. Up until now there had been no reason, or opportunity, for these gifts to be traded away and now God called for a free will offering to be collected from the wealth that they had received so that a sanctuary could be built for him to dwell among them.
Ever since the children of Israel had begun their journey God had lived separate from them, without a dwelling place, inhabiting the mountain or the cloud. He would always be God and therefore distinct from sinful man and unapproachable, but still God desired to be God among his people and not God apart from them.
This offering was a free will offering. An appeal would be made, a call would be given for the people to give and as the people were willing and able they would give to support the work.
God’s dwelling place on earth is always a free will offering to him, whether it be the heart of a man or a building of wood and stone. God doesn’t desire to compel a dwelling place to be provided for him. He wants to live in us and among us but he will not force the blessing of his presence where it’s not willingly receive and welcomed.
I remember, many years ago, asking God to force his way into my life and compel me to accept him and the change that comes as a result of his presence. I knew that I needed him and that there was opposition within me to his being active in my life and working the transformation that I so desperately needed. But friends, God doesn’t force himself on us, even if we say we want him to, and even after we’ve willingly accepted him if we repent of that surrender, by word or action, he will not impose his continued presence upon us and stay where he isn’t wanted.
It’s from a willing heart that we both provide and maintain a dwelling place for God.
Before we ever knew him God was hard at work trying to convince us to choose to make a place for him in our lives. He created us. He created a beautiful, bountiful world for us to inhabit and have dominion over. He gave us the ability to produce children and grandchildren. He provides blessings of everything we need and many things we only want. He heals us when we’re sick or injured. He sent his Son to be our Savior. He’s promised us an end of sin and a home with him. God really, really wants us to choose to let him in. He loves us. His heart yearns for us like the heart of a parent yearns for the love of an estranged child.
God’s ready for the distance between us to be done away with. “Let them make a place for me that I may dwell among them.” Will you make a place? Will you give your heart?