Moses’ Reverse Capital Campaign

Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan on March 24, 2005

Exodus 35:20-36:7

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The Lord’s Day
Morning

April 24, 2005

Exodus 35:20-36:7

“Moses’ Reverse Capital Campaign”

Dr. J. Ligon
Duncan III

Amen. If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with
me to Exodus, chapter 35. This Lord’s Day and next, on Sunday mornings we’re
going to take a break from our study of the Pastoral Epistles and from II
Timothy to look at two passages that have been very important in the thinking
and the praying of the Capital Campaign Committee. They have given to us, as a
part of the text from which they’ve drawn the theme of the campaign, Ephesians
2, and we’ll be looking at that passage next Sunday morning, and also another
passage that you’ve seen [quoted from] in the literature. It’s this passage
from Exodus 35 and 36, and so I want to look at it with you today.

You remember the context of this passage:
Israel has been brought by God’s amazing grace out of the land of Egypt, across
the Red Sea, and they’ve been saved to worship. They’ve been saved to commune
with the living God. They’ve been saved in order to be brought into the
fellowship of His presence, to experience His nearness and care for them. This
theme is emphasized throughout the Book of Exodus, and they’ve been brought to
Mount Sinai; and indeed, they’ve met with God, and God in His own voice has
spoken to the people of God.

And then you’ll remember, after that great
event in which God Himself speaks the word of the Ten Commandments to His people
and Moses then delivers the whole of the Book of the Covenant to the people of
God, Moses goes back up the mountain to receive the instructions from God for
the tabernacle that the people of God are to build.

Now, that tabernacle (which is a beautiful and
ornate and elaborate tent) is going to be the place which symbolizes the
presence of God…the nearness of God to His people. He’s going to dwell in the
midst of His people in that tent. They’re in tents, and so He’s going to be in
this tent; and that is the place where the people of God are going to go to
offer sacrifices, that’s going to be the place where they carry out the
ceremonial worship of the old covenant.

And so while Moses is receiving those
instructions from the Lord…you remember the rest of the story in Exodus 32:
the people of God became restless. He had been up on the mountain for forty
days. He had not come back down, and so the people of God got impatient, and
they said, ‘We want to worship God the way we want to worship God, and we want
to worship Him now!’ And so they said to Aaron, ‘Let’s make a golden calf and
worship the God who brought us out of Egypt.’

Well, of course you remember the rest of that
story. As Moses comes down the mountain he hears a sound that is like war in the
camp, but when he gets closer he realizes that it’s singing. And the people are
caught up in a horrendous orgy and frolic in the valley below the mountain, and
God says, ‘I’m going to destroy this people. They’re wicked. They’ve betrayed
Me. They’ve served other gods.’ And Moses intercedes, and the people of God are
spared.

Exodus 35 and 36 happens in the wake of that.
Though God’s people deserved to be destroyed right then and there, God in His
mercy still allows them to build the tabernacle. It’s an extraordinary thing.
None of the people of Israel would have been saying, “Aw, do I have to
give to the building of the tabernacle?” That wouldn’t have been their attitude!
Their attitude would not have been, “Have to?” It would have been, “Have
to? I get to! I’m alive today because of the grace of God. He didn’t
blast me into oblivion, which is what I deserved. He didn’t bring His judgment
down upon me. I get to build the tabernacle of the living God!”

You remember the rest of that story is quite
moving. Moses first intercedes that God would not destroy His people on the
spot. Then the Lord says, “Well, I’ll tell you what, Moses. I’m not going to
destroy them, but this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to send an angel
before them to take them up into the Promised Land in Canaan, but I’m not going
to go up in their midst, because they betrayed Me. And My anger might burn
against them in their sin and I might destroy them, so I’m not going to go up in
their midst. I’m just going to send My angel before them to take them into the
land.”

You remember what Moses says to that? He says,
“Lord, if You’re going to do that, well, then just kill us here, because You’re
the whole purpose. It’s fellowship with You, it’s communion with You, it’s
worship with You…that’s what it’s all about, O God. If we can’t have that,
then just…let’s just get it over with right now.”

And you remember the Lord’s
gracious response to Moses: ‘OK, Moses. I will go up in your midst. The people
of God will be allowed to build a tabernacle, the instructions for which I have
already given to you.’

And so when Moses comes to the people of God in
Exodus 35 and tells them that they’re going to be able to build a tabernacle,
they are awash with the sense of the grace of God to them because they deserve
to have been judged, but now they are given the privilege of building the
tabernacle that will be the place where God manifests His visible presence and
nearness to them.

Now, I want to say very quickly, the elders of
this church know that they are not asking you to join with them in building the
equivalent of the tabernacle. In the Old Testament the tabernacle (and then
later, the temple) was the place, the one place on earth in which God
visibly manifested His nearness and presence to the people of God. If you
wanted to fellowship and commune with God, and worship with the people of God,
the place you did that was at the tabernacle or the temple: and there is no
structure which is the New Testament equivalent of that. You understand that in
the New Testament the place where you meet with the living God is in Jesus
Christ, in the midst of His people. And my friends, we could do that on a
hillside; we could do that on the north parking lot; we could do that in a tent;
we could do that in a bombed out furniture store downtown somewhere. But in
God’s mercy, for about 168 years this congregation has had a place to meet.

This congregation was gathered in
April of 1837, just about 15 years after the city of Jackson was founded. And in
1843, the minister of this church preached a sermon calling on the congregation
to build a house of worship. And in 1846 or ’47, this congregation for the first
time in its history had a place to meet. And I don’t think there’s anyone who
can doubt that having a place to meet served the interest of the worship and
discipleship and outreach of this congregation. That first little church was
built right next door to where First Baptist Church is now, just a few blocks
down North State Street. And the people of God, called First Presbyterian
Church, met in that little building for about half a century, and then something
happened: they outgrew it! And the elders of the church thought about this for
a number of years, and they said to the congregation, ‘We think we need to build
a larger house of worship.’ And so they did, right on that spot, right in that
original location they built a larger sanctuary for the people of God to meet
in.

In 1892, that sanctuary was
dedicated. Dr. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, who was the pastor of the First
Presbyterian Church of New Orleans, made his way up the road from New Orleans to
Jackson and he preached the services of dedication of that building. In fact,
we still have the furniture that he sat in the day that he preached those
messages. You can see some of it in the History Room, and we bring it out on
special occasions here at First Presbyterian Church. But that was the second
building that this congregation occupied.

About a half century later,
something had happened. The congregation had exploded! It had continued to
grow; it outgrew dramatically its facilities, but this time there was a problem.
There was no space on the property down town to expand any further a place for
worship, a meeting house for the people of God. And so the elders did something
very bold. They said, ‘You know, we’ve got a little land up North State Street,
and we’re going to recommend that the congregation acquire more land and build
several blocks up on North State Street.’ It was a bold thing to do. They were
in the middle of the Second World War, they were in the middle of a Depression.
They were trying to put money in the bank to save up for it, and inflation left
them with less money at the end of the year than they had in the bank at the
beginning of the year! And so it was a very bold thing that they did when they
decided, ‘Yes, we’re going to build a sanctuary. We’re going to move up North
State Street.’ But they did that, and in 1952 they occupied this building.

Well, my friends, here we are a
half century later, and the elders of the church have said, ‘We believe that it
is time for the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church to be enlarged. We
believe this congregation again needs to provide more space for the people of
God to worship.’ The elders know that they’re not building the tabernacle, but
they do believe that they are making a recommendation to you that will entail
better discipleship and new opportunities for evangelism and outreach.

And I want to share with you
today seven reasons…seven reasons, just so that you have an appreciation for
what we’re about to do in the text as we look at Exodus 35…seven reasons why
our elders have voted that we enlarge the sanctuary of First Presbyterian
Church.

And the first reason is this:
Because of the church’s health and growth that the Lord has granted us, since
the completion of this building, of this meeting house, in 1952, Sunday morning
worship service has quadrupled since we occupied this room over fifty years ago.
There are four times as many people worshiping in this facility as there
were fifty years ago, but in all that time there has not been a single seat
added to our sanctuary. We’ve had to open up Lowe Hall and Hutton Chapel as
overflow rooms, but not a brick has been added to the sanctuary; and because of
this, the elders are recommending that we enlarge the sanctuary.

Secondly, because Sunday
morning worship attendance has averaged more than twice the capacity of this
sanctuary for over a decade and a half.
That is, for more than fifteen
years, the average–not the Easter Sunday, not the Sunday before Christmas, not
big Sundays when there are no football games in Oxford and Starkville on the
weekend–but the average worship service attendance has been more than
twice the capacity of this sanctuary.

Do you realize that on very many
Sunday mornings, maybe a dozen or more Sunday mornings a year, there are Sunday
mornings where there are as many people outside of the sanctuary worshiping as
there are inside the sanctuary at one or the other of the two services? In
other words, there is another third of the people that are worshiping on a given
Sunday morning outside of the sanctuary. That happens numerous times during the
year, but the average morning attendance is twice the capacity of this
sanctuary, and has been for the last fifteen years.

Thirdly, the elders have
recommended that we enlarge this sanctuary because this sanctuary, as the
room in this church facility devoted to the public worship of God, as the hub of
this whole church facility…this room has never been enlarged, even though our
membership has tripled since it was built.
Our worship service Sunday
morning attendance has quadrupled, and all our other ancillary facilities have
been added or expanded over the last half century. We’ve added new Christian
Education space; we’ve added Westminster Hall and the Fellowship Hall that goes
with it; we’ve added the Gymnasium; we’ve added the Study Center; we’ve added
the Youth House; we’ve expanded…are expanding…the Youth House. All of the
other ancillary facilities have been added to over the course of the last fifty
years, but the sanctuary–even though it is disproportionately small in
comparison to the rest of the facility–has never had one seat added to it. And
so the elders believe that it is now time to enlarge the sanctuary. But that’s
not all.

Here’s a fourth reason. The
elders believe that it’s time that we enlarge the sanctuary because of the
numbers of regular attenders on any given Sunday morning. Because of those
numbers, our congregation is spread out into three rooms during each of the two
morning worship services: in the sanctuary, in Hutton Chapel, and in Lowe Hall.
And this has the effect of dividing the congregational family in an unhelpful
way.

It also prevents us from holding
one another accountable in the matter of regular attendance. There are people
who very faithfully come to worship every Sunday morning, and I don’t see them
sometimes on Sunday morning for months at a time. There are other people who,
because of illness or whatever reason, miss two or three or four Sundays; and I
never know that they’ve missed Sundays, because normally they can’t get a seat
in the sanctuary and they’re in Lowe Hall or in Hutton Chapel. And I miss the
opportunity to encourage them in a time of need, because I didn’t even know that
they weren’t here. I don’t see a third of the people who come to Sunday morning
worship every Sunday. I don’t see them. Unless I pass you in the hall on the
way in, I don’t see you. And so the elders are concerned about this effect on
dividing the congregational family, since you don’t know whether someone is
absent or simply in another of the three rooms.

Fifthly, the elders believe
that it’s time that we enlarge the sanctuary because visitors are often
discouraged from attending First Presbyterian Church, and potential new members
are discouraged from joining because they cannot find a place to worship in the
sanctuary.
The ushers can tell you of the look on the face of visitors who
come when they say, ‘Well, I’m going to have to take you to one of the overflow
rooms because there’s no room for you in the sanctuary.’ And this happens on a
regular basis, and we recognize that this discourages visitors and potential new
members.

Sixthly, the elders want to
avoid going to three services and to the two or more Sunday Schools that that
would require, because they believe that would further undermine a sense of
community and family in the congregation.
We want to build the sense of
community and family. That’s difficult to do in some ways with two services, but
having one Sunday School helps us. If we go to three services we have an even
greater challenge in developing the sense of community, since we use Sunday
School as the key place for introducing the church family to one another
in a smaller group setting. Multiple Sunday Schools, which would be
necessitated by a three-service plan, would prevent us from doing this and
present significant challenges to cultivating the sense of community and family
in the congregation.

But seventh, the elders
believe that it’s time that we enlarge the sanctuary because our city-center
location is strategic both as a base to impact this city for Christ, but also as
a multi-county outreach.
Do you realize that our congregation is a
multi-county church? The bulk of the congregation is drawn from three
counties: Hinds, Madison, and Rankin; but we have people who are members of
this congregation and who regularly attend from Simpson County, and even from
Warren County (which surrounds Vicksburg), so this is a multi-county
congregation.

Many of the people who are
members of this church routinely pass twenty other evangelical congregations and
five PCA churches to get to First Presbyterian Church. And so we have a unique
location. We minister right here in the city, and we don’t want to leave this
location that has the opportunity both to minister to the city and to reach out
in multi-county outreach.

Let me elaborate on this. Have
you ever thought about this? Right down the street we have the University of
Mississippi Medical Center. A little bit further down the street we have St.
Dominic’s. Just across the street we have the Mississippi Baptist Medical
Center. And then in the other area right around us we have numerous health
facilities…ancillary facilities to Baptist and other hospitals just right down
the road. We are right in the middle of a major medical community, and we’re
ministering. We’re supporting the ministry of Jimmy Turner, for instance, at
Christian Medical and Dental Association at the University of Mississippi
Medical Center. We’re reaching out to those communities with the gospel. Many
of you have come to Christ or have been grown in grace through the outreaches of
this congregation to the medical community.

Think of it again: just across
the street, we have Millsaps College; just behind us we have Belhaven
College–two major liberal arts institutions; and many of the people in this
congregation have been ministered to through the outreach that we have through
the Christian Fellowship at Millsaps or through the outreach that we have
through the Reformed University Fellowship at Belhaven.

We have wonderful strategic
opportunities to minister, and we’re right in the middle of a major traffic
confluence: the Woodrow Wilson/I-55 corridor; the Riverside Drive corridor; the
Fortification/North State Street corridor. It makes it very easy for people to
come from multiple counties to First Presbyterian Church.

In fact, it’s quite amazing,
isn’t it? We get to be a downtown church, and yet, being in the heart of the
city we’re anchored in an old, beautiful, revitalizing neighborhood. My
friends, I want to tell you, there’s no church in our city that has a better
location. In fact, I would argue there’s no church in our state that has a more
strategic location, able to minister to the Capital City–to the city, in the
city–and at the same time to have a multi-county outreach. And the elders don’t
want to lose that. They don’t want to pack us up and move us somewhere else.

We’re right where God wants us to
be. He’s providentially gifted us with this strategic location, and we want to
take advantage of that. And so the elders believe that expanding the sanctuary
and enhancing our current facilities is the most cost-effective and
congregationally edifying way to provide for the present discipleship of our
current congregation and to open the way up for future congregational growth.

Now, that’s the introduction!
Let’s look at Exodus 35, and let’s consider it together; and before we do, let’s
look to God in prayer and ask His help and blessing.

Lord God, this is Your word.
We thank You for Your word of truth. Teach us by it. Energize us by it. Mold
our hearts by it, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hear the word of God in Exodus 35, beginning in
verse 20:

“Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel departed from
Moses’ presence. And everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit
moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution for the work of the tent of
meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments. Then all whose
hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought brooches and earrings
and signet rings and bracelets, all articles of gold; so did every man who
presented an offering of gold to the Lord. And every man, who had in his
possession blue and purple and scarlet material and fine linen and goats’ hair
and rams’ skins dyed red and seal skins, brought them. Everyone who could make a
contribution of silver and bronze brought the Lord’s contribution; and every
man, who had in his possession acacia wood for any work of the service, brought
it. And all the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had
spun, in blue and purple and scarlet material and in fine linen. And all the
women whose heart stirred with a skill spun the goats’ hair. And the rulers
brought the onyx stones and the stones for setting for the ephod and for the
breastpiece; and the spice and the oil for the light and for the anointing oil
and for the fragrant incense. The Israelites, all the men and women, whose
heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the Lord had
commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the Lord.

“Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, ‘See, the Lord has called by
name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And He has
filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge
and in all craftsmanship; to make designs for working in gold and in silver and
in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of
wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. He also has put in his heart to
teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has
filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer
and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in
fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.

“Now Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord
has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the
construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the
Lord has commanded.’

“Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in
whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the
work to perform it. And they received from Moses all the contributions which the
sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the
sanctuary. And they still continued bringing to him freewill offerings every
morning. And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the
sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, and they said to
Moses, ‘The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work
which the Lord commanded us to perform.’ So Moses issued a command, and a
proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, ‘Let neither man nor
woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.’ Thus the
people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was
sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.”

Amen. And thus ends this reading of God’s holy, inspired,
and inerrant word. May He write its

eternal truth upon our hearts.

I. The nigh unto universal and
willing provision for the tabernacle.

In the time that we have together today I
want to draw your attention to three things from this passage. As the people of
God prepare to build the tabernacle, the first thing that we notice (in verses
20-29) is their willingness to give. Moses repeatedly points us to the
fact that there was a nigh unto universal response from the people of God: that
they were willing to make provision for the tabernacle. Look at how he
emphasizes this. Look at verse 21 — “Everyone whose heart stirred him and
everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution…;
verse 22 — “All whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came…”; verse 23
— “Every man came…”; verse 24 — “Everyone who could make a contribution of
silver and bronze brought….”; verse 25 — “All the skillful women…”; verse
26 — “All the women whose hearts stirred…”; verse 27 — “The rulers also
brought….”

The point is that the people were stirred in their
own hearts to give, and that it was a nigh unto universal experience. Now, this
is quite extraordinary. You notice what Moses does. Look at verse 20. Moses,
in the previous verses 1-19, presents the people of God the fact that God is
going to allow them the privilege of building the tabernacle which will be the
place of His presence. And then in verse 20, what does he do? He sends them
all home. ‘The Lord’s going to let you do it…’ — and he sends them home.

No on-the-spot ‘OK, empty your pockets right now! You’re not going home until
we have enough! Everybody’s going to give, whether you like it or not!’ Moses
said, ‘The Lord’s going to let us build His tabernacle: go home. Beautiful,
isn’t it?

It’s in total contrast to what happened in Exodus
32. Look back there. In Exodus 32, when the people of God wanted an idol
built, what does Aaron do? While they’re all standing around, ‘Aaron, make us a
golden calf…’ — look at Exodus 32:2. On the spot, Aaron says what? ‘OK, you
want me to build an idol? Empty your pockets right now, every one of you.
Ladies, all the earrings off, right now! Tear ‘em off, right now! Hand them
all to me.’ It’s the ultimate coercion. It’s like the TV preacher: ‘I know
there’s another one of you waiting…yep, there’s a $5,000 gift out there! I’m
not going off the air until you give that $5,000 gift.’ It’s this coercion:
‘You’re going to give, and you’re going to give right now!’

But not with Moses. Why? Because Moses doesn’t
want anybody to give a dime to the tabernacle, whose heart is not compelled to.
Moses says, ‘The Lord’s given us the opportunity to build the tabernacle.
Now here’s what I want you to do: go home. And if you want to give to that
tabernacle, you come back on your own. You come back with a willing heart and
you give.’

My friends, the elders of the church are saying that
to you. We don’t want you to give to this work unless your heart is willing. And
it’s amazing…already the people of God are showing their heart for this. Do
you realize that three times what we have ever contributed to a capital campaign
has already been pledged to this capital campaign, and we haven’t even gotten to
Commitment Sunday for it yet? The people of God are showing a willing heart,
and the elders of the church are saying to you, “Come with a willing heart. If
you want to build a larger sanctuary for the people of God to worship in, come
with a willing heart.”

Moses is emphasizing that these people, because they
sense the grace of God to them….They deserved to be destroyed in the
wilderness. They didn’t deserve to come into God’s presence. They counted it a
privilege to be able to build this tabernacle. They were moved. They wanted to
build the tabernacle. He’s emphasizing, isn’t he, that there is this
willingness to give among the people of God.

And that’s what our elders want to see in you. Don’t
give to this unless your heart is in it. Give to it because you see this as a
way to glorify God, as a way to exalt Him in worship, as a way to disciple His
people, as a way to reach out to those who are lost and who do not sit under
faithful gospel ministry Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day. Do this for God’s glory!
Don’t do it for the elders. Don’t do it because we’re trying to be “bigger”, or
trying to keep up with the Joneses; do it for the glory of God, and for
ministry, and do it with a willing heart or don’t do it at all.

That’s what’s so striking about this. Moses says,
“Go home.” If you want to give, you come back and give. So that’s what we see
in verses 20-29…this willing response from every quadrant of Israel. Wealthy
men, rulers, women who are spinners, men who have gold and silver…they come
out of the woodwork! Why? Because they’re willing to give. They sense
the grace of God to them, and they say, ‘Lord, what a privilege that I get
to build the tabernacle!’

Well, as I said, we’re not building the tabernacle
here. We’re building a house of worship. It’s a meeting house. We could meet
with God in the parking lot. All we need to do is gather in His name in
accordance to His word. But think of how many people have been discipled because
a half century ago people made a commitment to build a building that most of
them are not enjoying today.

You know, we have about 3,250 or so members in this
congregation, and over 2,000 of them have joined in just the last decade. That
means that about 1200 or so are members from before that time, and an even
smaller proportion of that 1200 were here when this sanctuary was built. That
means that the people of God who built this sanctuary primarily did not build it
for themselves. They built it for people who weren’t even around when they built
it. They built it for you. Many of you are the beneficiaries of their gift.
They’ve long gone to be with the Lord, but they were thinking of their children,
of their grandchildren; they were thinking of the people who were not
sitting in the pew next to them. They were thinking of ministry, and, because of
their sacrifice in the middle of a Second World War and a Great Depression,
we’re here today ministering, serving the Lord in this beautiful house of
worship.

That’s how we want you to think. We want you to
think of the ministry angle of this. We want you to think of the worship of
God, of discipleship, of outreach. That’s how we need to think of it, and we
need to have willing hearts. That’s the first thing that we learn.

II. The filling, gifting and
equipping of the builders of the tabernacle

The second thing–and I’ll just briefly
comment on this–you’ll see in verses 30 of chapter 35, down to verse 1 of
chapter 36, and it is simply this: notice that God does not appoint a Committee
of 700 to decide the designs of the sanctuary and to carry them out. He engifts
certain men for the building and the design of the tabernacle. God, of course,
Himself had given many specific design commands for the instruments of the
tabernacle and for the shape of the tabernacle; but for the building and for the
rest of the design of the tabernacle God engifted Bezalel and Oholiab. And
we’re reminded here that God as the Engifter of Israel gifts and equips those
who are going to build the tabernacle.

And we see this same principle today. God has not
called all of us to be the ones that make the designs, or which make the
architectural determinations. Have you ever been to a congregational meeting
where they argue over what color the carpet is going to be, or what color to
paint the walls, or where the bathrooms are going to be? I’ve been to them
before. I’m so glad we don’t do those at First Presbyterian Church! They’re
horrible! You argue for three hours, and at the end you do what the officers
who have been studying it for nineteen months decided was the wise thing to do
anyway! And God is giving something of that principle here in Israel: that the
people of God are to come and bring their gifts, and Bezalel and Oholiab are the
ones who are going to carry out all the details.

You know, you would be worried if I were deciding
about the air conditioning system in the new sanctuary; and if you weren’t
worried, you should be! No! You’d want Denny Terry and the people who do those
things to be working on that. They’re the ones who have the gifts and the
experience.

You would be worried if I were doing the
architectural design work; and if you weren’t worried, you should be! No, you’d
want Doug Dale and his people working on that.

You would be worried if I were deciding where floor
joists were going to be, or where mechanical operations were going to be housed
in the new building. (If you weren’t, you should be!) No, you’ve got Orrin
Swayze and Stewart and a whole host of other people from our church, as well as
those that they’re working with, making those decisions. God has gifted them in
those areas.

Well, what I have the gift to do is to give! That’s
what I have to give. I give, and they will wisely, as God has gifted them, know
how to do all these things. And you see that principle even here.

A sanctuary isn’t built by committee. God gifts
certain people in His land to do this work, and He, by His Spirit, enables them
to do it. When God calls us to serve Him, He provides the competency required
for our vocation so that all that we accomplish must be attributed to Him. He’s
the one who gives those wise people their competencies.

III. A response so great that
Moses has to stop the giving!

But there’s a third thing I want you to see here, as
well. Look at chapter 36:2-7. Notice the response from Moses’ call. You know
the first thing he does wrong…you know the capital campaign advisers would
just be going nuts when he sends them home: ‘No, no, no! You’ve got them right
there! Put the squeeze on them, Moses!’ Nope! Send them home.

But then look what he does. They’re a few days into
this, and the workers start coming to Moses and saying, ‘Moses, we’ve got a
problem here.’

‘What’s that?’

‘Ah…the people are giving us too much. We can’t use all
this. We’ve got everything that we need and more. We’ve got a problem, Moses.’

And so Moses calls a meeting, a congregational
meeting, to tell them to stop giving! ‘I’ve got an important
announcement to make. Do not give any more to the tabernacle.’ It’s the
“reverse capital campaign”! Notice that when Aaron built the golden calf, he
has to issue a command to give. Moses issues no command to give. He issues a
command to stop giving, and this is quite extraordinary, because these are
ex-slaves. All that they own is what they were able to carry on their backs and
on their animals out of Egypt, and the few things that they got from the
Egyptians on the way. (You remember the Egyptian masters gave to these
ex-slaves certain items.)

Now, some of that has already been wasted on the
golden calf, and I assure you that the bronze, the molten gold, had been melted
down and it did not have a single part in the building of the sanctuary. So
they’ve got to build this beautiful structure, this expensive structure, as
ex-slaves; and yet, they give more than enough for this work to be accomplished.

We are far more affluent than the children of
Israel. We have so many more times what they had. We are exponentially wealthier
than those slaves in the wilderness, but this challenge before us is
nevertheless large. There’s a six or seven million dollar ministry budget every
year at First Presbyterian Church. That doesn’t go away while we build a
sanctuary. There’s a million dollar a year mission budget at this church; that
doesn’t go away while we build a sanctuary. There are bills to pay; they don’t
go away while we build a sanctuary. There are children to put through school;
that doesn’t go away while we build a sanctuary, so I don’t belittle the size of
the task before us at all.

But do you notice how the people’s hearts are such
that the only thing that Moses has to say to them is to stop giving? One hundred
and forty-five people in this congregation have already committed over forty
percent of what it’s going to take to build the sanctuary. Now, you don’t have
to be an outstanding mathematician to tell that if we have anything like the
response of the people of God that we have here, that this sanctuary can be
built; and you can put me in the position of having to stand up one Sunday
morning and say, “Please! Stop pledging to the sanctuary! We’ve got more than we
need. Stop.”

Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t it be great three
years from now to announce that there’s no indebtedness at First Presbyterian
Church? Though we’ve expanded Twin Lakes, doubled the Youth House, added extra
rooms for the Day School, expanded the sanctuary…now we’re going to have an
unparalleled opportunity to throw ourselves into ministry, into evangelism, into
outreach, to missions. Wouldn’t that be great? My friends, it can happen, but
it will depend upon the willingness of the hearts of the people of God.

Go home, and pray about it.

Let’s pray.

Our Lord and our God, we thank You for Your word.
We ask that You would help us to discern what You would have us to do. It may
be sacrifice; it may be hard. And we pray that what we do in response to Your
word in this time would serve ultimately only the interests of Your glory and of
Your mission. When we give, we’re not giving for ourselves. Many of us will not
long enjoy the privileges of a new sanctuary, but there are generations who
will. And as we pray, O God, help us to remember that we do this not for the
person who’s sitting next to us right now, but for the person who’s not sitting
next to us right now. Make this a decision for Your glory and for Your
ministry, and for Your kingdom, not our own.

And then, O God, do what You will in our hearts.
You make the determination. This is Your church, not ours. You know what we
ought to do. Make it evident, we pray, in the hearts and lives of Your people.
We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Congregational Hymn:
Take My Life, and Let It Be
]

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the
Father, and our Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

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This transcribed message has been lightly edited and formatted for the Web site. No attempt has been made, however, to alter the basic extemporaneous delivery style, or to produce a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript conforming to an established style template.

Should there be questions regarding grammar or theological content, the reader should presume any website error to be with the webmaster/transcriber/editor rather than with the original speaker. For full copyright, reproduction and permission information, please visit the First Presbyterian Church Copyright, Reproduction & Permission statement.

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