The Windfall

Exodus 34:12 Take heed to yourself lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.”

Observation: Moses is back on Mt. Sinai for a second time to receive God’s instructions and to prepare a new set of tablets containing the Ten Commandments. He had destroyed the first tablets in a rage when he discovered the Israelites were worshipping a golden calf…a calf made from jewelry God had earlier commanded them to plunder from Egyptian captors. Now, after slaughtering the calf-worshippers, He was sending the rest of the people on toward the promised land.

This land of promise was apparently a good place…a rich place…a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet they were warned against becoming too enamored by its comforts. They were neither to marry its inhabitants nor to “play the harlot” with their gods” (v. 16). They would have bountiful harvests, but were warned to keep the Sabbath even if it fell during harvest. Celebrations were mandated: The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Ingathering. As Moses announced the commands of the Lord to the people, he then took an offering for the tabernacle. The balance of Chapter 35 describes an astonishing array of wealth offered by the people ranging from precious metals and gemstones to fine linens and incense, together with all sort of valuable jewelry.

Application: Think about it: the work of the Lord was to be advanced through the plunder of Egypt. God had arranged the plunder just before the Exodus, and had destroyed the portion used to mold the golden calf. And then He demanded the rest of it to build and decorate His tabernacle, warning that if they became too fond of it, it would become a snare to them.

I wonder…what goes through my mind when I contemplate a windfall such as the Israelites had received? That’s what Egypt’s plunder had been…unmerited favor…graces…a gift from God. It was like learning that my late father had a secret hoard of wealth that I would receive after the funeral. I should always remember that all I have belongs to Him; whether gained by a God-directed windfall or by hard work, He expects to have first dibs on it.

How well do I do at being “in the world but not of it”? How able am I to hold all things loosely, recognizing that I am but a steward, a tenant, waiting for instruction from the owner? How eager am I to comply when He tells me He has need for what I have enjoyed for a season? That second home, the stored-up retirement, the boat or motorhome or…? What is my response when the Lord says He wants an offering? Have these things become a snare, my personal golden calf? Not everyone responded well to the Lord; v. 35:21 says that everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing…” Some were wise and responded graciously to His commanded generosity, willingly giving what they had; others, apparently not. Which group shall I be counted with?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for holding too tightly to “my” things, for not responding quickly when You nudge me to remember whose it is. Teach me to look contently to You for my daily provision, and to hold all things loosely lest it become a snare.

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