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Jan 21, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 21

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Egypt and Exodus

You freed your people from slavery in Egypt so they could worship you: Free me from sin so I can serve and worship.

Reflection

As you read today, notice the way that Moses intercedes with God on behalf of His people and reunites them when the people disobey.  The ten commandments are renewed and expanded upon in these readings, and there is an outpouring of gifts and talent when the work on the Tabernacle begins.  The splendor and beauty and workmanship of the Tabernacle will echo that of Creation itself.

Today’s Reading

Exodus 33-36

Today’s Question

Reflect on what you’ve read.  What can be learned about God and his nature from these chapters?

Join the discussion below!

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  • In Chapter 34:6 The Lord is described as” a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity”….then continues “forgiving wickedness, crime and sin, yet not declaring the guilty guiltless”. The Lord declares “these people will see the awe inspiring deeds which I the Lord will do at your side. But you, on your part must keep the commandments”.
    I too see the Lord as Kind and Merciful but like the good Father He is also letting us know that we must follow His commandments and keep His covenant. A conversation with my wonderful Dad came to mind while I was reading these chapters. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 91 but when we talked about God my Dad was convinced that he was an angry God and I could not convince him that he was a Merciful God also, slow to anger. All those times throughout these chapters I see a forgiving God, leading the people through Moses, He always talks about finding favor with Moses and carrying out the requests Moses makes to Him when Moses defends the people. And Moses thought he wasn’t up to what the Lord wanted him to do!

    • Suzanne, blessings to you and to your father – may he be resting in God’s all loving arms. As we get closer to Sacred Scripture, we will know God all the more. St. Augustine wrote that to know Sacred Scripture is to know Jesus. Blessings.

    • Suzanne, I am also struck by the relationship between God and Moses. I do not feel God was actually planning on killing all the Israelites, but rather used this as an opportunity for Moses to realize and show his tremendous growth as a leader. Intercepting and offering himself in place of the people does point to Christ, I think. He has come a long way on his journey from the Burning Bush!

  • I see several traits in God in these passages. First I see a God who is intimate with those who are completely obedient and giving of their love to God. Moses is granted the opportunity to enter into an intimate relationship in which he is able to talk and discuss with God. Second, I see an impatient God who knows the Israelites are stubborn and acceptable to following false gods. Impatient but living and merciful. Third I see a strong willed God who stands up against false gods and the internal strife and temptations that might lead the Israelites away from Him. In rereading these passages, I was most surprised by the first trait something I had not seen before.

  • After the fall of the Hebrew’s with the golden calf (reference to the Fall of Man all over again), God wanted to abandon His people. Again, through literary style the writer shows the effects of sin and one’s relationship with God. However, Moses prayers to God brings re-establishes the relationship between God and man. God is an all forgiving being; a Father-figure. Notice that the tablets, this time, were not from Mount Sinai but from where man walked – this illustrates that the laws would now be carved in their hearts as opposed to coming from above (as it did the first time from upon Mount Sinai).

    The fact that God dictated the commandments again was like a father explaining to his child what to do and not to. The child errs and the father takes the child aside and explains it all over again. Reinforced messaging. There’s a human familiarity to these passages that should resonate with all of us. Notice that the first commandment the Lord explains is the one that the people recently broke – love no other god but God alone.

    • Joe, kindly allow me to clarify your sentence as quoted: “However, Moses prayers to God brings re-establishes the relationship between God and man.” end of quote. I believed prayers alone maybe be true to establish relation to God, but that would be good only prior to Christ establishment of the New Covenant sealed with His own blood and that necessarily include the seven Sacraments duly instituted by Jesus. In other words, today in order for us to re establish our relation to caused by sin, original and or actual sins a Christian to be saved at least had received the 3 Sacraments of initiations namely, Sacrament of baptism, penance and Eucharist.
      Hoping Joe, you would affirm or deny this.

      • Hi Jose, first – I need to apologize for the poor grammar. No excuses but suffering from a bad cold. The point I was trying to make was that Moses spoke to God (to me, that’s prayer). Moses knew the errors of his people’s ways and wanted to mediate for them to God to ensure that God does not abandon them on their journey to the Promised Land. That abandonment is an outcome of sin.

        Today, our re-establishment of our relationship with God after committing mortal sin is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For the Hebrew’s, that re-establishment was through sin offerings to God that would be established soon after the events with the golden calf. Now we all know who offered Himself for our sin offering centuries later….

        Have I responded to your query?

      • I’m going to join in here: Doesn’t Moses’ action show him as a “type of Christ” when he offers to be an atonement for the peoples’ sins? God did forgive peoples sins in the Old Testament too, didn’t He; but because of original sin they were not allowed into heaven. I am just asking, I don’t really know the answer. I don’t think Jesus said you had to experience the three Sacraments of initiation to be saved, did He?

        • Great questions. Wish I was a theologian or Catholic apologist to answer. Forgiveness of sins pre-Christ was in the form of sin offerings as spelled out by God to Moses. As for the three sacraments you mentioned, there were prefigures for those – baptism (salvation of the Hebrew’s through water in the form of parting of the Red Sea as well as the flooding of the Earth in Noah’s time saving humanity); penance (sin offerings through the sacrifice of animals; shedding of blood); Eucharist (manna from Heaven to save the Hebrew’s from starvation as well as the Passover meal; salvation from death).

          But I think you’re right about Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection opening the gates of Heaven for all to enter including those that died before Christ. Another reference to parting of the sea between Earth and Heaven and providing a passage to Heaven.

          Hope my limited knowledge on the subject helped.

          • Yes Joe, that’s very good retrospect of these Sacraments, it’s foreshadowed events from the Old Testament. Jesus just ask us a little faith in us as mustard seed is enough to grow in us to defend the goodness of Christ in us. We are exposed to many challenge in our faith, just upon we walk out our doors, we encounter people or even friends who us, are you saved? Like the question of born again, baptists, jehovahs, mormons, etc. So we have to answer them, “Yes I am saved, the bible way.” I know Joe, you are more than ready to answer these challenges on your way, anywhere they can be found, even sometimes while you are just walking in the hallway, you can do it.

        • Pretty sure, without taking/having the time to reference scholarly sources, that God desires salvation for all souls, including those that came before Christ’s incarnation. The Triune God is outside time, always was, always is and always will be. The hope of salvation, though maybe not on the radar of the earliest people of God, was still present for all ages. Original sin introduced earthly death to humanity. God’s judgments are perfect – true faith in God (Abraham being credited with righteousness as a prime example), is still faith in Christ without a cognizance of consubstantiality. Anyway, what I do recall reading, is that there is evidence after the exilic period (which we will get into soon) that the Jewish faithful do come to believe in life after death. Check out:
          Isaiah, chapters 40 onward, known as the Book of Consolation;
          Daniel, particularly chapter 12;
          2 Maccabees, particularly chapter 7 concerning the martyrdom of the woman and 7 sons – verse 9: “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.”
          2 Maccabees 12:38-46 concerning interceding for the dead: “For if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.”

          • Absolutely, God desires Salvation for all souls…..it’s how each of us choose to live our own lives that cause trouble sometimes

  • One thing that struck me while reading today’s lesson, was the God acted like a Father to His children. He was stern and admonished them when they did wrong. He also knew that He needed to forgive them although they were a “stiffed neck people”.
    When a child has done wrong and knows want he/she did was wrong, this child will try to make amends. Moses told the people what God wanted for the construction of the Ark. Those hearts that were either touched and/or moved by the happenings on Mt. Sinai, assisted in constructing the Ark. They saw how powerful God is/was and the Hebrews were afraid to anger their Father again.

  • Moses offers himself as an atonement (a type of Christ) for the sins of the “stiff necked people” and God responds by agreeing to go with them showing God is merciful, showing fidelity and forgiveness. Not allowing Moses to see His face but to experience His glory shows His kindness and how much He cares for Moses. He is intimate with Moses allowing him to speak to Him. God moves the hearts of the people to freely give of their material goods when He has them prepare to build His tent so that He can go with the people. He is very specific with how He wants the Israelites to live only showing Him alone worship, cautioning them not to make covenants with other people who will draw them away from Him. God promises to drive out the other people so that nothing will stand in the way of the people to go up to worship Him three times a year. He even lays out the festivals they are to honor Him with. He is a caring, loving God.

    • What will eventually hurt the people of Israel is (1) their intermarriage with the pagans, (2) their wanting a king like the other nations, (3) their worshipping of pagan gods and abandoning Yaweh. This becomes a reality later when they are a nation and the first king is Saul.

  • God is indeed slow to anger and rich in mercy! Though He had His almighty finger on the “smite button,” He stayed His hand. This we have the rich lesson of intercession, faithfulness and reconciliation.

  • Like many of the others, I noticed different aspects of the nature of God, so I will just mention the one aspect that made the biggest impact on me. God longed to be with His people, travel with them and be deeply involved in all aspects of their lives. It is His longing and the longing of Moses that results in a relationship so intimate that it seems beyond proper description. I want to truly live as Moses did, by walking with, talking and listening to God throughout the day. Maybe there is also a reason why the words of St Jerome about ignorance of scripture has been (and continues to) crop up over the last 6 or 7 months to the extent that I became (and still am) irritated and frustrated. Hence signing up for the Bible Timeline course (which started last night) and this course.

    • I too feel your sentiments. I am ignorant of scripture but plan on fixing that, hence I too am here in this Daily Bible Challenge. I already feel like I have a better understanding of why Catholics are supposed to do certain things. Rather than just knowing of all the rules we are to follow as Catholics, I like understanding where they came from. The biggest thing that has resonated with me thus far is when we do not obey God there are repercussions. Time and time again we read how the Israelites disobeyed and how they were punished if not killed. When I die one day and am asked at the pearly gates of heaven, so how did you like my book? I want to be able to answer that question!

  • We learn that God can forgive, restate what his commands are, and steers us in the direction he wants us to follow…and those that have done/or do follow his commands are blessed (as Moses was)…God brings those who have rebeled to the awareness of how they can re-establish their relationship with God…it seems to me that this was setting the stage for what was to happen later on…(as we know it was)…God wants a relationship with his people…yet as we turn from him and sin, he consistently calls us back to him through repentance…hence the call of John the Baptist, and his call for repentance…and Jesus’ affirmation of that call through his Baptism by John. Though Jesus did not have a need for Baptism, he is affirming the constant call God had established in the Old Testament for repentance and re-commitment to God…

  • Upon reflecting on today’s readings, Chapter 35 spoke volumes to me about God’s true nature. Up until now, the Lord gives very specific regulations about sacrifices brought to the Lord, the age and types of animals to be sacrificed, etc. When the collection for materials begins Moses tells the Israelites the Lord has commanded, “Receive from among you contributions for the Lord. Everyone, as his heart prompts him, shall bring, as a contribution to the Lord, gold, silver, and bronze….” In my opinion, the Lord does not want to know His people are following His ways because they HAVE to but rather to see they are following His ways because they WANT to. We read several times, “as their hearts moved them and their spirit prompted.” This is the Lord living in each one of them calling them to donate but not mandating. This reminds me of a teacher or parent who teaches his/her children. Once you have taught a lesson you must step back and see how they apply the knowledge they have learned. We see in Chapter 36 that Moses puts out a proclamation to the Israelites to “donate nothing more because they already have more than they needed.” I believe that God truly living in their hearts prompted this outpouring of generosity. The Lord must have been pleased to see His people willingly following his desires. How fabulous is that?

    • I also think that had the Lord not provided the Israelites with specific instructions and detail, they would have botched it up. They likely would have argued over the size of each item such as the Ark, etc. and been slow and it might have even been impossible to have results. We tend to individualize and interpret things differently. God knowing how we are beforehand, decided to just give us explicit instructions.
      We now have the long biblical history to help us understand God. However, back in the day the Israelites didn’t and I can understand why they feared the lord, they were in the midst of learning who God is and how merciful He is. I can’t imagine that being easy, however some got the message a lot sooner than others.

      • Even though we have the long biblical history to help us understand God I think that we are in the same boat as the Israelites ( me anyway). We each of us individually need to learn for ourselves how loving and compassionate God is. I know for myself, it is hard for me to trust. Even though I have a book of instructions, the Bible, I still feel the need to do things on my own. Nine times out of ten I run into trouble and that is when I have to run to God to fix things. When will I learn to run to God first!!! Just a few of my thoughts.

        • Thanks for sharing, Jeanne. I share many of your same sentiments. When will we learn? Thankfully God is always willing to give us a second chance.

        • I agree Jeanne. Just reading the Bible doesn’t automatically make it easy to follow the guidelines He has for us. It is a long personal journey. I have difficulty not knowing the time frame God has in mind for us. I pray to God to help me with certain things or events, but unfortunately I won’t know when God will answer my prayers and I get impatient.

        • Seems like mankind has not changed much since the Israelites. Eventually the prophets would come and then in our time and ages the supreme prophet is the Blessed Virgin Mary who has appeared to many telling the people to turn back to God. How many times God continues to forgive us!

      • I think that is why upon reflecting the words “as their hearts moved them” and “the spirit prompted them” spoke to me. God was very descriptive in the details of what he wanted….they may have botched it up otherwise. However, he removed that safety net with explicit

    • Excellent applications for reflection! We cannot make others love us any more than God can make us love Him. How beautiful it is when one freely chooses to do so!!

      • You are absolutely right, Kerry, it is absolutely beautiful to freely choose to love God but also beautiful are those times when we do fail to love God as we should and He is so open and willing and truly desiring for us to come to Him asking for forgiveness!

    • This makes me think about the need for written commandments in the Old Testament versus the Spirit writing the commandments in our hearts in the New Testament. As we receive the sacraments and are given more and more grace (the life of God) we become more holy (mirroring Christ in the world) and naturally live out the commandments in our daily lives not because we are told to but because we have become transformed (new creations) and there is no other way to live. We are no longer tempted by things that tempted our old nature. I see this as a life long transformation process that peels back layer after layer until only the core remains which is in union with the Trinity.

  • What a compliment for Moses when the LORD says ‘ i will do just as you have asked ,…. I am pleased with you” A few confusing things . In 33:11 “The LORD would speak with Moses face to face ,just as a man speaks with a friend… ” In 33:18 Moses requested: ‘please let me see the dazzling light of your presence’ and the LORD answers in 33:20 ‘I will not let you see my face, because no one can see me and stay alive’

    The LORD is very merciful and is very faithful. But it is difficult to understand the LORD ‘s ways when HE says in 34:7″ I keep my promise for thousand s of generations and forgive evil and sin; but I will not fail to punish children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generations for the sins of their parents”

    • I too had to take a double look at that verse. I then decided that since Moses came back illuminated after he spoke with God, he most likely was facing Him but unable to “see” his face due to the radiance he emitted.
      34:7 I believe has to do with history having a tendency of repeating itself. Parents who teach their children to idolize false gods, or parents that are bad examples of being good to their neighbor will likely produce similar offspring. A line of “bad seed” if you will. So is the punishment given to grandchildren due to the grandparents sins, or are these children also most likely equally sinning?

    • I have heard it said that the faith of a nation is only as strong as the next generation. If we do not pass on our faith, and the discipline required to adhere to this faith, to our children, there is suffering in store, indeed, I believe for the people for years to come! It’s not actually God doing the punishing of the successive generations; this is the human condition since the fall. But I also believe God will pronounce judgment on those who know and fail to pass on the faith.

    • I believe that is what is called “generational sin.” Have you ever noticed how in families a lot of times we can see a weakness, or tendency to commit the same sins that our parents or grandparents also committed. Take, for example, alcoholism and how it shows up generation after generation in a family. I believe this holds true with most every sin. We would see a pattern emerge if we look backwards through our generations. That is why it is so helpful to attend family healing services that will help you learn how to brake the bond these sins have on familial generations…and pray….not only for your own forgiveness, but also for the forgiveness of your family through past generations. It is asking the Lord to “bind” those sinful inclinations that satan has attached….casting them out…and filling the void with the Holy Spirit.

  • What impressed me most in these chapters is that God is building his House and it is a thing of beauty, a work of Art. God says he will give talent to certain individuals so that they can create this Great Work of Art. It is saying to me that there is a place for Art in out lives. This may be a little off topic but it is what this passage is saying to me.

  • My mind ties this to the desire of Moses to see God in his glory. As a mortal Moses cannot see God in his glory but God is giving the Israelites a work of Art that represents his Glory and it is not an image as the pagan gods. It is pure beauty. How honored were those artisans who worked on the Arc.

  • I was born from the lost generations who don’t know the real true God. Yet God haven’t forget us, He keep calling us back again and again through the prophets like Mosses, or even people like St. Paul, a person who has persecuted the true faith. God is so lovable and mercy if we have faith in Him and walk with Him. His love on us never stop even we falled and sin. Only if know how great is our God! Praise Him!

  • So the LORD passed before him and proclaimed: The LORD,
    the LORD, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and
    fidelity, continuing his love for a thousand generations,
    and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin; yet not declaring the guilty
    guiltless, but bringing punishment for their parents’ wickedness on children
    and children’s children to the third and fourth generation! Exodus Chapter 34:6-7
    In the previous chapter of Exodus, God showed a friendliness toward Moses that amazed me. God is gracious and very, very patient. For me God represents a teacher, a confessor, a friend with limitations, and best of all, a father. God is to be revered and respected.

      • Without sounding disrespectful, I know God is not one that will pal up with a person because He Is and always will be Our Father and Our Creator. That’s all I meant.

        • More a Father than a friend, huh? I agree totally – and we can experience the disastrous repercussions of being more pal than parents with our own children when they are young, impetuous and stubborn…

  • Naturally the verse in Chapter 34 regarding God being merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness is the one that pops out when describing His Nature. Let us all remember that we are fallen in nature and can not gain heaven on our own merits but only by His Grace. But the Lord is one that is merciful and will forgive us of our sins if only we ask it of Him. God is also a ‘Jealous One.’ Let us all meditate to ensure we are not putting any persons, places, or things before him.

    Heavenly Father, Thank You for your kindness and mercy. I appreciate the forgiveness of my sins. I thank you for the shed blood of your Only Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Please cover us in the blood of the lamb and forgive us of our sins. We are a sinful people and can not gain heaven based on my behaviors. I pray that I will put to the side any person, place, or thing that may be keeping me from growing closer to you. I pray this in the name of Jesus.

  • God revealed himself to Israel as the one “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” These two terms express summarily the riches of the divine name. In all his works God displays not only his kindness, goodness, grace, and steadfast love, but also his trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness, and truth. Moses summoned and subdued the shivering people and told them the wickedness of their sin. He promised to secure their pardon from God and had indeed already done so. After Israel’s sin, when the people had turned away from God to worship the golden calf, God hears Moses’ prayer of intercession and agrees to walk in the midst of an unfaithful people, thus demonstrating his love. And like any Loving parent who must punish out of Love, God rules with a firm hand but continues his covenant as promised and shows the ever unconditional forgiveness for his children. By the return of the cloud in front of the tent Israel knew their Lord, “He who is,” had forgiven them.

  • Loving and forgiving are you oh Lord; slow to anger, rich in kindness, loving and forgiving are you. from the song by Scott Soper

  • This is perhaps a more complex reading than first seen; indeed, God is an ever loving God and a God of unbounding mercy but God also is all knowing past, present and future. Did God show his anger to test Moses’ resolve to defend and support the people Israel? God is quite determined in his decision to punishment of the people; although I didn’t count the number of times Moses had to defend the people before God relented, it is a interesting point to ponder.
    Beyond the question for today, I was reading with interest the focus of God’s people bringing materials to complete the ark and the priestly garments. They are totally focused on God and each one’s “gift” of material was their first fruits determined by their ability to give. If a household didn’t have gold and jewels then they brought silver or brass or gave their backs for collection of acacia wood – but only those who were willing and free of mind to do so as stated by God. This was perhaps another test of the people and a orchestrated offer by God to redirect the people’s attention to Him (it also used up their gold and such so they couldn’t make more golden calves).
    God sees the weakness of man and knows man must be reminded and reinforced to put God in the position of the One, Only and Most High; He also sees the value of teaching the people to understand the giving of oneself and one’s treasures to God be them time (workmen, wood gatherers), talent (workmen, weavers, seamstresses) or treasure (gold, incense, silver, jewels, spices).
    God is truly all loving and merciful – He knows what how man will react in situations that test his resolve to keep God’s commandments and laws and to keep him as the Most High, He is a willing and patient teacher allowing man time to discover for himself.

  • I just love the thought of the radiant face of Moses. How powerful. He surely was transformed by his faith after that trip up the mount. Let us all shine with the radiance of God on our faces for all to see so that we may spread the good news. Be not afraid.

  • There are some wonderful comments here about the nature of God. Thank you for sharing! I am struck this morning with the way God spoke to Moses: face to face, “as his intimate friend”! Imagine being loved that way by Almighty God – but that is just what we can be, his intimate friends, and he longs to speak to us in that face-to-face manner.

    Have you experienced that? I would love to know how.

    • Yes I have experianced closeness to God. But I have always needed to be introduced. I am introduced by the saints. I am particularly close to St Joseph. I also became very close to God when reading the works of Mother Teresa. I feel that the saints are saying to me “Come meet my Friend Jesus, I am sure you will love Him.

    • Sarah:

      Thanks for referencing the face of God. It is quite amazing that Moses was able to have a face to face encounter with the Almighty God. I would probably be too scared or die. Probably from my lack of faith or my sinfulness.
      I have not personally experienced a face to face personal dialogue encounter. I have prayed to see the face of God. One time while praying this and studying scripture, I experienced the gaze Jesus gave St. Peter after denying him three times. My heart sank and it was a true encounter. I have never experienced anything like it since, but it was truly astonishing.

  • To experience God face-to-face is one of our glorious mysteries of “faith”. I often wonder if I am touched with the presence of God when I drift between the abyss of being asleep and awake, when I see a butterfly lightly touch a blooming flower, or when I feel a snowflake on my eyelash, or the moment before I make a decision. I think God speaks to me as my intimate friend when I am faced with my darkest moments of desperation as well as when I experience a joyous moment of happiness. I can only imagine what the people must have felt when they looked on at the radiant face of Moses. They had to understand he was surely touched by God and being in the presence of Moses had to instill faith for God in their hearts. I’m sure all the messages from God that Moses had been reporting to the people finally confirmed the reality of a belief they never imagined. I know I feel that way when I come to a realization that God is my only answer.

  • I’ve read so many answers, but I am having trouble making sense of everything. Aaron actually organizes the making of the calf, yet the people got blamed and thousands were slaughtered for their unfaithfulness. As a New Testament person, I know God is Love and merciful, but I am having a difficult time finding it in these chapters. With all the rules and regulations, I am afraid that I would have been one of those who didn’t make it. I am glad I was born after Jesus.

    • Mary Ann, God is the same yesterday today and forever. It does not matter when you were born. Time and time again God should have destroyed the Israelites due to their lack of faith. Mercy is all over the Book of Exodus. Meditate and read it again.

      • Linuxology, my brain knows what you say is true, but I can’t get past the slaughter of so many because they turned on God. Today, in America for instance, our laws have supported killing the innocent and supports immoral behavior. If America were at the base of Mt. Sinai, would God ask us to slaughter the guilty? He is merciful to the Israelites, but will the same justice be given to the guilty today? I pray to have the faith of little Mary of Nazareth….. Thank you for your encouragement.

  • God has a true communication with Moses where he is willing to meet Moses’ requests to a limit.
    He is merciful and sees our weakness and tries to lead us further along but accepts where we are. He is gracious. It is hard to understand how after all God had done for the people that they would fall into idolatry. Isn’t that so like man-so full of self yet hungry for God, turns to false God’s. Our world turns to pleasures of many sorts that become gods.

  • The Lord continues to remind the Israelites, through the discussions with Moses, that their sins are forgiven. Thereafter God goes on to let them know that as long as they do their part of carrying out the commandments and focusing most especially that they worship solely him as the only true God that he’d continue to take care of their needs as well. Everyone with belief solely in God worked toward building the tabernacle. In sections 35-36 everyone pitching in to do just as the Lord has asked bring together the sweet sound of peace. Amazing things happen when we truly give oneself to the Lord!

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