(part 1)

Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, “These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do.” ... (The workmen) said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work for which Lord commanded us to perform.” Exodus 35:1 and 36:5.

(Beginning understanding: Until “Blue Jean Sunday” (September 27), there will be three bulletin articles on “Moving Toward God’s Unity.” Though each hopefully will be complete in itself, be certain to read all three articles to receive the complete thought.)

When God through Moses led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, in a short time the Israelites came to Mount Sinai. There the Israelites received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), other teachings, and built the Tabernacle. The construction of the Tabernacle (a tent) is recorded in Exodus 35:4 - 37:29. It served the Israelites as a portable place of priestly worship for the forty years they spent in the wilderness. Its internal furnishings, especially the ark of the covenant, were in Canaanite worship centers after Israel’s conquest of and settling in that land. Then the furnishings, especially the ark, were placed in the temple David desired and Solomon built. The Tabernacle was built with free will offerings given by men and women who wished to give.

Since the construction (1) was funded by free will offerings and (2) was an expensive task involving expensive materials (Exodus 12:31-36 suggests the origin of these materials), congregations used this occurrence to do two things: (1) build buildings, and (2) impose a worship dress code. The evolving reasoning based on these scriptures was (1) God’s people give Him their best when constructing a place to worship God, and (2) God’s people wear their best when they worship God. (This concept was also based on understandings/applications that came from scriptures such as Exodus 19:9-15.)

Whether you agree with this concept or not, understand that (1) many of the past building of facilities were based on this concept/understanding; (2) Scriptures were used to form the concept; and (3) many Christians you know use this teaching to form a specific conscience reaction to what they do and why they do it. Please remember, Christian consciences are not easily nor quickly changed. Also remember respect, not agreement, is the basis of God’s concept of Christian unity.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 13 September 2009

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