Exodus 35:29 (HCSB)
29 So the Israelites brought a freewill offering to the Lord, all the men and women whose hearts prompted them to bring something for all the work that the Lord, through Moses, had commanded to be done.
With the covenant established again, the Israelites are again commanded to construct the tabernacle: the place where God will manifest among His people. The pericope contains a refresher of everything that needs to be done, but is not a full rehash of the preceding chapters of detail.
There is an interesting contrast in this pericope. On one hand, the construction of the tabernacle is clearly a command from God. Exodus 35:4 says clearly, “This is what the Lord has commanded.” And again, in Exodus 35:10, there is the reminder that the construction of the tabernacle was a command from God. But on the other hand, there is a free will choice for the Israelites. Exodus 35:5, God speaking, says, “Let everyone whose heart is willing.”
The tabernacle was a required construction. It was necessary for God to be among His people. Therefore it is a command from God. This should help us realize that God’s commands are for our benefit. Certainly God has no need to dwell among men, but we have everything to gain from His manifest presence among us. It is also worth noting the difference between the reaction of God following their disobedience and that of their previous ruler, Pharaoh. Pharaoh commanded for his good, and for the detriment of the Israelites, while God, also ultimately commanding for His glory, also blesses His people.
While the construction was commanded, it was not forced upon the Israelites. God allowed the Israelites to choose to follow, to choose to take part in His plan. We don’t need to get into the debate concerning predestination here to recognize that a choice to bring an offering to God must be made to join Him. In this case it is was materials and skills to construct the tabernacle, in all time it is our surrender to our Savior. Again, we might note the difference between Pharaoh and God. God asks for a free will offering, both of the nation of Israel, but more importantly at the individual level, while Pharaoh enslaved and forced service upon the Israelites.
The tabernacle construction ultimately is a beautiful combination of the surrender and desire to follow and join God, and the will of God coming to be. Exodus 35:29 combines the freewill of the Israelites, and the command of God.
Lord, thank You for weaving all things for Your glory and Your blessings upon us. I pray that we would not choose the yoke of man, of sin, but instead choose to come to You. We pray for Your presence around us, and in us. Amen.