Shaken Together and Running Over
The God of the Scriptures is not a God of half-measures or insufficiencies. Again and again in the Scriptures we find God providing for His people in amounts that baffle the mind. The great riches of Solomon, the quail provided during the wilderness wanderings, even the great riches given to Job following his great trials, all of these demonstrate God’s ability and willingness to provide far and beyond our feeble ability to comprehend. When the limitless God of the Bible touches this physical world, it results in an overflow each time.
One of the most striking (and overlooked) examples of God’s overflowing bounty towards His people is found during the account of the building of the Tabernacle, which begins in Exodus 35. In all truth for most Bible students this is a little-studied account, as the only things we find therein are the physical descriptions of the Tabernacle, and the elements therein (the Ark of the Covenant, Table of Shewbread, etc.). We aren’t kept up late at night wondering how many golden clasps connected each section of the Tabernacle curtain. (it’s 50, in case you were wondering)
What is mind-blowing about the Tabernacle’s construction is the vast amount of material required to do so. In Exodus 28 a final tally of gold, silver, and bronze is given, and the numbers are incredible. “All the gold that was used for the work, in all the construction of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary. The silver from those of the congregation who were recorded was a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary” (Ex. 38.24-25) Just in case you aren’t fluent in Ancient Near Eastern weights and measures (like me), let me put that in perspective for us: At a reasonable estimate of 75 lbs. as the weight of a talent (estimates range between 60 and 120 lbs.), we are talking about 2,193 lbs. of gold and 7,544 lbs. of silver! At today’s market prices, that is in excess of $40 million dollars in gold, and $1 million dollars in silver.
Keep in mind also, this does not count the bronze (over 5,000 lbs. worth), nor the wood, various types of precious cloth and animal skins, and all of the other elements provided for the construction of the Tabernacle. When God asked His people to provide for the tabernacle in Exodus 35, we do not find them wringing their hands wondering where they are going to get it all. The people weren’t figuratively held upside-down and shaken to get these things from them. They were volunteered willingly! “All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.” (Ex. 35.29)
And if this weren’t enough, take a few moments and read Exodus 36.3-7. Let what that text says sink in, and in particular the last full sentence. “So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.” The people of Israel didn’t just have enough. They didn’t just scrape by to provide for the tabernacle. Moses had to tell them to stop! The materials were so plenteous that the people had to be restrained from giving more than they already had! This overflowing of riches that God had provided for the Israelites is stunning in its scope. But it serves to remind us of the type of God we worship.
In Malachi 3 God makes the following statement: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (v.10b) We serve the God of rich blessings, who can pour down upon us blessing “until there is no need”, if we would but serve Him! This is not, however, the idea of the “Prosperity Gospel”, wherein if enough good deeds and prayers are rendered He will grant us more physical possessions, larger bank accounts, and nicer living circumstances. God simply here says “serve Me, and see if I do not provide for you!”
God has poured down on us His great love in the sending of His Son to die for us. God has poured down His tender mercy towards us in the opportunity to be forgiven of our great and numerous trespasses. His love and mercy are not half-measures or barely adequate for us, but are like the riches offered up for the Tabernacle in Exodus, they are overflowing, excessive, beyond our comprehension. When we serve our God and place our trust in Him, we tap into a well of strength that is beyond measure. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (Eph. 6.1) And when we disobey God, when we act according to our own wisdom, our only outcome is to drink from the bottomless cup of God’s great wrath, as plenteous and as infinite as His love! In Revelation 14, when the “winepress of God’s wrath” was filled and pressed, it reads in v.20 that the blood from the winepress reached the height of a horse’s bridle, for a length of 200 miles. While the imagery here is figurative, the message behind it is quite literal. God’s wrath, like His love and Holiness, are incomprehensible.
During Luke account of the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6, Jesus gives reference to this overflowing of blessing to those who are giving to others. “Give, and it will be given to you.”(v.37a.) Notice what Jesus says next: “Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." (v.38b) If you are generous to others, the blessings will return to you, but not in the same amount! Pressed down, shaken together, running over! Think about what we do to trash bags before finally taking them outside: we push down everything as hard as possible, stretching and even shaking the bag to make more room, sometimes even overflowing the opening! Am I saying that God gives us trash? Of course not. Will God pour His blessings upon us so much so that our cup “runneth over” (KJV) as David put it in Psalm 23? Absolutely, if we will but serve Him with our whole heart.