The people here are moved to give – not under obligation, but as a response to all that God has done for them. We often criticize the Israelites as they wander in the desert – they always seem to be complaining! Yet here they show a deep sense of gratitude and generosity towards the Lord – they want His meeting place (the Tabernacle) to be the best, full of creativity and value.
How did they get all of these fine things – if they were slaves in Egypt and wandering in the desert? Before they left Egypt, God moved the hearts of the Egyptians to give to the Hebrews when they asked. And so they left Egypt with a lot of plunder. Who would keep this plunder that God had provided? Now comes the question – they did not earn it, will they give some of it to the Lord? Will they give it all? Or none? Moses put no one under obligation; it was only if a person could remember that the Lord was the One who provided, only if someone’s heart was moved would they give.
And they did give – they gave even more than was needed. So for as often as we criticize the grumbling Israelites, how does our generosity compare? How does our memory of all God has given and provided stack up? I find myself more and more fighting the sickness of greed that infests our culture, and is actually held up as a good thing. I am praying God will weed this out of my soul, but I know it will be a long process. So much of it has to do with me seeing God, all He has done, and responding with gratitude.