When Bettie and I began writing this book, we never realized there was another free will offering hid amongst the Tabernacle and Temple materials: the serving hands of the quarriers, overseers, builders and craftsmen. In Exodus 36:1-2 (The Voice), we read of the Tabernacle free will offerings of two craftsmen and those under them:
Moses: Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skilled person whom the Eternal One has gifted with expertise and wisdom in order to build the sanctuary shall use these gifts as the Eternal One has directed. Moses called together Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skilled person whom the Eternal had gifted with special skills—everyone whose heart moved them to work—to help out and contribute to the construction work.
Isn’t it beautiful to see how God prompted those He had only just freed from slavery and oppression to bring their very first free will offering. No one was forced to help, nor did they do so out of a sense of duty or tradition. Rather, their hearts were simply moved by the Holy Spirit’s touch to give back of their time and talents to honor the God who had delivered them. I also love being reminded that God gifts us “special skills” that we might serve Him in accordance with the way He has made us. We get the privilege of serving Him from the talents He has deposited in us.
For the Temple, King Solomon assigned the building work to men and women in his kingdom and invited help from a foreign King, who gifted him the aditional help Solomon needed. In 2 Chronicles 2: 1-2, 17-18 (ESV), we read:
Now Solomon purposed to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal palace for himself. And Solomon assigned 70,000 men to bear burdens and 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 to oversee them … Then Solomon counted all the resident aliens who were in the land of Israel, after the census of them that David his father had taken, and there were found 153,600. Seventy thousand of them he assigned to bear burdens, 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 as overseers to make the people work.
What is so beautiful to see here, is how God was already showing us His desire to include Gentiles in His Kingdom work to come. Jew and Gentile worked side by side to complete the Holy Temple that would house the Presence of God. Just as today, Jew and Gentile are now laboring in the LORD to see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
When God laid this chapter on our heart, He spoke to me of fingers. I had been praying through each part of my own body that has been or still is injured, ill or diseased, praying for a cleansing spiritually of these parts of my body and of these parts of His Body – the church – as a whole. And as I sat reading about the mercy seat that morning, I was drawn to the fingers of the High Priest sprinkling blood seven times (a number representing completion):
And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. Leviticus 16:14 (ESV)
Through those Scriptures God reminded me that I had not yet prayed for a cleansing of my spiritual fingers, nor the church’s spiritual fingers. Likewise, that same day, Bettie had been drawn to her own crooked fingers, caused by her RA inflammation, and had felt the LORD draw her attention to these verses:
Isaiah 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
KJV, YLT, DARBY, AM
Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.
KJV, DARBY, ASV, WEB
Isaiah 45:2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/words/Crooked
KJV, YLT, AM
As I looked up the alternate meanings of each Word, hidden in these meanings, I found Christ’s sacrifice of His own body that was broken for us. I felt Him remind me that He took upon His Body our sins, that He might take that division inside of our hearts and minds that is causing our crooked ways, and make it whole, piece by piece, through the power of His resurrection life at work in us.
Interestingly, the verse I woke up to on my Bible app that morning, also speaks of that resurrection life and power:
The grass dries up, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Yesha ‘yahu (Isa) 40:8 CJB
Oh praise God that He arises within us, waving His banner of love and victory over us. He births His intercession in us that leads not just to our own setting free, but others too, as we share the cries of His heart in us. He reveals Himself ever faithful to the works of His holy hands, even working through the tiniest works of His hands to avenge us:
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. Psalm 8:2 (ESV)
This loving God commands us to bind His teaching to our fingers, but it is He who does that binding, as we come to Him. This Shepherd commands us to hear His Voice, but it is He who opens our ears to hear Him. This Abba Father puts a ring on our finger when we come home to remind us, not only that His grace is sufficient for us, but that He has also placed us in a position of authority over the enemy, as His beloved Son and heir. He reminds us that it is as simple as drawing near to Him, that He might draw near to us and set our fingers to work for Him, in His honor and authority.
When we doubt His Presence with us, He invites us to put our fingers into the holes in His hands, to see and feel His pain, as He willingly took upon Him our afflictions, laying down His life to restore and redeem ours. When those around us, or even our own hearts, accuse and condemn us, He stoops down and with His finger writes His Word on the ground, leaving no accusing tongue standing. It is not man, but the LORD who trains our “fingers” for battle. And it is He who turns what the enemy meant for evil into good.
When I was a teenager, I remember being asked what I would have to show for myself, the day I stood before my Lord and Savior. I remember being petrified because I felt I had nothing to show – all I saw was all the ways I had failed God. I recounted my sins. Now, thanks to the patient, piece by piece humbling of my Maker, I am able to glorify and celebrate Jesus and His work in and through me. He reminds me that the moment we give our hearts to Him, it is no longer we who live, but He – Christ – who lives in us. When we stand in glory, it won’t even be us standing there. It will be Christ revealed in us, as the work of His holy fingers and holy, nail-pierced hands arise.
In the Bible, we are, however, reminded of the evil our fingers can do and the need for our hands to be cleansed. And so, where we can see the fruit of division in our lives (strife, covetousness etc.), James implores us to:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.James 4:8-10 (ESV)
God has filled me with a longing to serve Him with my hands, since I was a little girl and He has opened various doors to me in different seasons of my life to use the talents He has given me. But in each and every season of labor, God has also invited me to cleanse my hands and heart.
He has exposed fleshly motives in me and invited me to grow in grace and to grow in my relationship with Him – to come to a deeper knowing of Him and His heart for me and others. He has continually shown me that He guards all I have entrusted Him.
For, He knows how inexperienced I am, and that every new thing and relationship He leads me into requires me to grow in grace and in my experiential knowledge of His love for me and others. So, rather than leaving me to my own devices, He has come alongside me to train me in His righteousness and to make my crooked paths straight by His blood that was shed for me at the Cross.
Interestingly, as I came to the end of writing this post, God reminded me that I had not rested with the oil that was also sprinkled seven times on various items in the Temple and on the priests serving in the Temple and on the utensils they used in serving:
He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times and anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the basin and its stand, to consecrate them.
So Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.
the priest shall then dip his right-hand finger into the oil that is in his left palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of the oil seven times before the Lord.
Leviticus 14:27Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Sprinkling-Oil
and with his right-hand finger the priest shall sprinkle some of the oil that is in his left palm seven times before the Lord.
What suddenly struck me is that, in Psalm 23, God speaks of annointing our heads with oil in the presence of our enemies and that He sets a table for us in that place and that our cup overflows. Do you see what I see? The enemy would love for us to stop serving, when we are convicted of sin, trying to convince us that we are unworthy vessels. And yet God’s response is:
He knows we are but jars of clay, and yet He chose us before we were born to display His glory, to do the good works He has prepared for us to do in Christ Jesus. So, He pours out the oil of His Holy Spirit upon us, that in the presence of our enemy’s accusations, we might remember Jesus. So that we might humbly bow the knee before our Maker in repentance, declaring before our accusers that our debt has been paid.
In Christ changing our minds to serve wholeheartedly rather than from divided hearts, our fingers are cleansed by the blood of the lamb and set apart by the Spirit of God, to do the work our LORD has prepared for them.
It is there – with that table of communion set before us – that we are blessed to drink of the overflowing cup and take eat of the broken bread, remembering Christ’s sacrifice for us. A sacrifice that enables us to always come boldly before the throne of grace to wash our hands clean, so that we may return to serving our God from the overflow of His undivided heart and mind within us.
Yes, it is His holy hands that are rebuilding the walls of His Holy Temple and our salvation. Christ is transforming our physical and spiritual hands into a free will offering in His blood that was shed for us and His Holy Spirit that has been and is still being poured out for us. It is our God who is building His Holy Temple and preparing His beloved Bride for her Bridegroom, through every prayer He gives us to pray for one another. Through every Promise He gives us to speak over one another. And through every deed of love His holy hands move our cleansed and appointed physical and spiritual hands to do, in Him.
And I trust God to continue to grow each one of us – His beloved children – in our experiential knowledge of Him. I trust that when we one day leave for heaven and those who knew us look back upon the work of our hands in this world, their eyes will open to see the work of Christ in us. I trust that they will begin to see His never-forsaking love for us and for them: just as I did seven years ago, as I looked back on and celebrated the gift of my mother’s life.
As we prepare to share our free will offerings for this chapter with you, Bettie and I would love for you to join us in prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, our Living Word fulfilled,
Thank You for calling out those early craftsmen, to give the offering of the work of their hands. What an incredible humbling gift to know that we, who are the work of YOUR hands, could join You in the offering of our hands.
Thank You for giving us understanding of the spiritual work You are accomplishing within Your Body, as You call us to see with new eyes the physical work being shared in our physical bodies.
We lift our hands and our fingers to You now. Those of us with chronic illnesses are so aware of the crooked and diseased states of our joints and tendons. Oh but thank You for the gift of hearing Your Word to us: You hold us together, every tendon and ligament is held by You. Thank You that we remain a vital part of Your Body, even as our physical serving is stripped away, more and more, and as You overshadow us to draw us into Your heart to heal us, and others through us, in a deeper way.
Thank You for opening our eyes to the privilege of offering our spiritual hearts and hands to You, that in Your Spirit’s leading we might build up Your Body in prayer, love and encouragement. Forgive us for all the times we have bemoaned the closing doors, because of our ailing health, and not seen the new doors of precious fellowship and serving You have been opening to us.
Thank You for the promise that You will restore and make straight every cooked place. Even now, we ask YOU to uncover those hidden, crooked places in our hearts. Will You wash our hands afresh and heal those places, where we have tried to lift up our own works?
We long to let You smash every idol and restore our worship of You alone. We long to glorify You as You accomplish Your working through the offering of our hands up to You now. Make us holy as You are holy.
From the treasures of Your glory, empower us with inner strength by Your Spirit, so that You may live in our hearts through our trusting. Root and found us in love, so that we, with all God’s people, will be given strength to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of Your love, yes, to know it, even though it is beyond all knowing, so that we will be filled with all Your fullness. Now to You who by Your power working in us are able to do far beyond anything we can ask or imagine, to You be glory in the church from generation to generation, forever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21)