Four Essentials Of Worship

Title: Four Essentials Of Worship

Bible Book: Exodus 35 : 1-29

Author: Calvin Wittman

Subject: Worship; Devotion to God; Loving God; Serving God



Exodus 35:1-29

As we approach our text this morning, we find the Israelites in the middle of building the tabernacle. The tabernacle was the dwelling place of God before Solomon built the temple. It was the place where sacrifices were made, it was the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and it was a place of worship, a place which was constructed according to the purposes and instructions of God.

In these latter chapters of the book of Exodus, we find God giving the Israelites specific and often copious instructions about the construction of the tabernacle. Up to this point God has been meeting with Moses in the tent of meeting, but now the Israelites are about the process of building something more suitable for their worship.

It is instructive to note here that from God’s point of view, worshiping Him is to come first; attending to the things of God is to be a priority for those in covenant relationship with Him. Before the construction of permanent homes for the Israelites; before they plant their vineyards or dig their wells, before they construct their barns or their stables, long before they even take possession of the land, before anything else takes place, God wants them to focus on worship. In this context He instructs them to build Him a tabernacle. It is, in essence, the same thing Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount when He taught us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all the necessary things of life would be added to us.

This order is often reversed by modern day Christians. Many today seek their own needs first and only look to the needs of the Kingdom of God after they feel they have satisfied their own needs and wants. They put themselves first and the things of God are secondary. But in God’s economy, we are to   seek first His kingdom. It was that way in Exodus and for those who are right with Him, it is still that way today.

While there are many things in our text which deserve investigation, this morning we will focus on four of them specifically. They are things which are easily seen in the text. As we seek to interpret and understand scripture remember that the plain thing is always the main thing and these four things are very plain to see. I want us to notice four essentials of worship in this text; four things that God says are necessary if we are going to worship Him as He calls us to.

First of all, in verses 1-3 notice that God speaks specifically about the use of our time.

I. We Worship God With Our Time

It is instructive to note that this chapter which focuses on the tangible aspect of worship begins with a reiteration of the law of the Sabbath. God begins this section on worship by reminding Israel that their relationship with Him will always be visibly evident by whether or not they keep the Sabbath.

Isn’t that interesting? As God instructs Israel on worship through giving, He begins by reminding them that worship involves their time.

Keeping the Sabbath was a way of demonstrating that all they had and all they were belonged to God. They had six days to work, but the seventh belonged to God. The pagan cultures around them would have thought it foolish to give up one good day workday out of every seven to do nothing but sit around and rest. In an agrarian and pastoral society this would have been seen as nothing short of foolish. This would have been especially true during the harvest season when they only had so  much time to harvest their crops.

But God specifically called His people to dedicate one out of every seven days to rest and during that rest they were to focus on Him, on His creation and His blessings in their lives. The Sabbath was God’s day. It was not for commerce. It was not for sport. It was, in a very real sense, a sacrifice to God of the most precious thing each of them had. It was a sacrifice of their time.

One author notes that time is significant because it is so rare. It is completely irretrievable. You can never repeat it or relive it. There is no such thing as a literal instant replay. That appears only on film. It travels alongside of us every day, yet it has eternity wrapped up in it. Although this is true, time often seems relative, doesn’t it? For example two weeks on a vacation is not at all like two weeks on a  diet. Also, some people can stay longer in an hour than others can in a week! Ben Franklin said of time, “…that is the stuff life is made of.” Time forms life’s building blocks. The philosopher William James once said, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”

If there was ever a day when time was precious, it is today. Life is busy; everywhere we turn there are demands on our time. Get this work out before you go home, take the kids to the function up at the school, meet this person for lunch or for coffee, make sure you make these phone calls before you leave, don’t forget to stop by the store and get this or that. If you don’t believe me, think about how you feel when you are stuck behind someone on an otherwise clear road who is going ten miles under the speed limit, or when the first person at a traffic light that is always too long, fails to go as soon as the light turns green.

Maybe you can identify with a friend of mine. He told me that while traveling recently, he found himself alone in his hotel room. For the first time in as long as he could remember, he was alone and he  was enjoying it. No phones were ringing, no secretaries were calling, no children were demanding, no wife was asking this or that. He said, “Calvin, I was enjoying being alone so much that I almost  felt guilty.”

Whether your schedule gets like that or you seem to have all the time in the world, giving of your time to the Lord is a sacrifice. Going on a short-term mission trip, working every week in Awana, making a commitment to teach Sunday School, visiting the sick or making an evangelistic house call is a sacrifice. But folks, God has always recognized that our time is the most precious thing we have.

That’s why He asks it of us. That’s why this section on worship begins with a reminder that if our life belongs to God and our life consists of time, then our time belongs to God and should be His whenever He asks for it.

Someone once noted that time isn’t a commodity, something you pass around like cake. Time is the substance of life. When anyone asks you to give your time, they’re really asking for a chunk of your life.

Worship involves our time; when God asks for it He is asking for your life. If you’re not willing to give your time to God then you’re not willing to give Him your life and in the end, you’re not really worshiping Him.

But there is a second essential to worship to which our text points us, and that is that…

II. We Worship God With Our Talents

Look in verses 10-19.

The skilled workmen gave to the Lord by doing what they best knew how to do; the women used their talents of weaving for the Lord. One of the ways God instructed them to worship was by the use of their talents to accomplish His purposes.

What we do with the skills and abilities, the talents God has given us, demonstrates whether or not we are truly worshiping God. Worship always involves our talents; this is a truth Jesus reinforces in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.

All too often, in the minds of many Christians, there is some kind of disconnect between what God has gifted them to do in life and what they do for Him in His kingdom. But I want you to notice is that if you are gifted at doing something, it is because God has given you that ability; He has given you that talent.

Look at verses 30-35. It was God who gave them the ability, the skill necessary to do what they did. While they were able to use those skills to provide for their families, the Lord made it clear that He gave them these gifts so they could use them to construct His tabernacle. In fact, in verse 33, the scripture says that God gave them the gift of creativity. Specifically this chapter tells us that God gave them those talents so they could further God’s purposes.

Your life and mine are no different. The gifts and abilities God has given you He gave you so that you could use them to further His kingdom and to bring Him glory. Using your gifts for God’s purpose is one of the ways you worship God. It is one of the ways you express to Him that you know He is Lord in your life.

The New Testament is crystal clear on this subject. In 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 the gifts God has given to His people are always mentioned within the context of accomplishing God’s purposes.

Can you imagine what we could accomplish if we could get God’s people mobilized to use their gifts and abilities to further the kingdom of God? Can you imagine the impact we could make on society if every member of this church were to work at furthering God’s kingdom with the same intensity and priority that they give to furthering their careers or that they give to preparing for their future? God only knows what we could accomplish if everyone who calls themselves by His name, were to truly seek His kingdom first.

We look at the business world and we are often amazed by what people can accomplish. We look at people like Bill Gates and are impressed by the financial and organizational empire he has built. We are dumbfounded by the amount of time and money he puts into research and development. Does it not make you wonder what could be accomplished in the Kingdom of God if Christians were just as willing to invest that kind of dedication and commitment to winning the lost?

We look at the entertainment industry and marvel at the talent some of the actors and singers have. And at the same time we have a difficult time getting people to sing in the choir or to sing with all their heart when they attend worship service, or to commit to be in the Christmas musical.

If Christians would give the same energy to God’s kingdom as they give to their own empires, if they would use their God-given abilities for his glory rather than merely for their own gain, our country would not be nearly as ungodly as it is, for our influence for God would be much greater than it is.

You see the reality is this: every talent a human being has is a direct gift from God. Whether we use it for God or not is a choice we have to make. Those who do not know our God cannot be expected to use their gifts to glorify God or expand His kingdom. They are blinded to the reality that their talents are gifts from God. They are deluded into thinking that because they can sing better, or speak better, or look better than others, that they are somehow better than others. But as Christians we know better than this. As Christians we know that everything God has given us, in this case our talents, He has given us so that we can bring Him glory, not so that we can gather glory for ourselves.

But there is a third thing our text shows us today and that is that….

III. Worship Involves Our Treasure

I read an article recently by the prolific author and teacher, Chuck Swindoll. I wanted to read it to you because it addresses this issue of worshiping God with our treasure. Swindoll says, “Jesus talked about money. One-sixth of the gospels and one third of the parables address the subject of stewardship. Jesus was no fund-raiser. He dealt with money matters, however, because money matters. It’s a surprise to many people, Christians included, that the Bible has so much to say about this subject.

God has given us three ways on this earth to invest in eternity. Two of them are up for discussion and as we approach them with open-mindedness, we can never seem to hear enough about them, but the third seems to be nobody else’s business.

The preacher who fails to address time and how we spend it is considered derelict in his duty. For time is one of those irretrievable values in life you can only spend once and never capture again.

The pastor who overlooks teaching on talents and gifts that help the church body function smoothly and well and even efficiently is not doing his job. The congregation has a right to feel slighted because that subject is not mentioned.

But let the man address the subject of treasure and he’s back on that age-old subject and just trying to get our money.” Swindoll says, I find that not only amazing but ridiculous.”

If everything we have belongs to God, then whatever He asks us to invest in His kingdom is a small thing compared to all He has allowed us to keep for ourselves.

Look at verses 4-9, 22-24. The people gave to God out of the substance of their wealth. Worship included the tangible exercise of giving of their wealth to God.

Worship always involves sacrifice. From the beginning of time God made it so. From the garden of Eden, to Abraham’s tithe, to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:20, to the institution of the sacrificial system, to tithe of the temple, all the way to the New Testament concept of generous giving, worship has always involved sacrifice.

It is amazing to me how we seem to have raised up a generation of Christians who always want something from God but are ever so reluctant to give anything to Him in return; a generation of self- centered Christians who seek themselves first and relegate the things of God to the bottom of their priority list. To them God is like Santa Clause, if you’ve been good he’s supposed to give you what you ask for, but He is not supposed to ask anything in return. That’s not the picture of worship scripture paints. Worship involves sacrificially giving back to God.

And for the life of me I can’t figure out how any person who is really saved has a problem giving back to God. After all, everything you have, you have because God gave it to you.

It is worth noting that everything the Israelites had was a direct result of God’s goodness. You’ll remember that back in Exodus 12:34-35, after the death angel passed through Egypt that God caused the Egyptians to give gold and silver to the Israelites. So everything they were giving back to God was something that God had enabled them to get in the first place.

You and I are no different. Everything we have is a direct result of God’s goodness. There is nothing you possess which is not a direct result of God’s blessing in your life. In fact in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us that God causes His rain to fall and His sun to shine on the just and on the unjust. Even lost people have what they have because of the goodness of God.

The bottom line here is that it all belongs to God and if He asks for it, we should be willing to give it. Worship involves our treasure.

But there is a final observation which must be made, a final element of worship which must be mentioned.

IV. Worship Involves A Willing Heart

Look at verse 5, “whoever is of a willing heart.”

We see this same terminology is verses 21, 22, 26 and 29. God wanted them to give out of love, not out of duty. God wanted them to give to Him, to worship Him only if they were willing.

When we give to God, when we give Him of our time, our talents or our treasures, God wants it to be out of desire not out of duty, willingly not out of want; He wants us to give back to Him because we want to, not because we have to. He wants us to give to back to Him because we love Him; because we understand Who He is and what He has done for us. God wants us to give of ourselves out of relationship, not out of regulation.

Intimate relationships are not built on rules and regulations; they are built on love, understanding and knowing. Far too many Christians want a relationship with God which is one sided. They want Him to love them, to care for them, to respond to their needs and desires within the context of an intimate relationship but they don’t want to have to respond to Him in the same way. That’s why so many Christians have difficulty with tithing, or even beyond that, with giving of their time, their talents and their treasures. They want God to give to them out of relationships, but they want to give back to Him out of regulation. They want the maximum God can give them but in return they want to give Him the minimum possible to keep Him happy.

It is unconscionable to me. I’ve never been able to understand how people can know the realities concerning their own salvation and then, in response, not want to give back to God. How is it that we can be aware of how grievous our sins were to God, that we can be mindful of how desperately lost we were, and of where we would be were it not for His love, and then be stingy with God? Can a person who is stingy with God, who has no desire to give to Him, who is not moved with gratitude and thanksgiving, can that person truly have come to understand what grace is? How can they stand in church and with a straight face sing, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe,” and then refuse to recognize His ownership over all they have? What kind of relationship must that person have with God?

The Israelites had been slaves to Egypt, just as we were slaves to sin. They had been in bondage to Pharaoh, just like we were in bondage to our fallen nature. With a mighty hand and a loving heart God had delivered them, even as He has delivered us. It was with the blood of a lamb that He caused death to pass over the Israelites, and it was with the blood of His precious Son, the Lamb of God, that He delivered us from the penalty of death and washed our sins away.

Understanding that we should be stirred in our hearts, we should be moved in our spirits, we should be overcome with gratitude, overwhelmed to the point of action, of worshiping Him by giving back to Him out of all the goodness He has given us.

There is an interesting thing in the original language here in verses 5 and 21. The NASB translates it “contribution,” but literally it means to heave, or to wave. The terminology indicates that the people took their offerings to the tent of meeting and they waved them back and forth, as if to make them visible to God, even as a child would wave something in front of their parents so that it would receive appropriate attention or like an athlete who won the prize and waves it so all can see, the Bible says the Israelites waved their gifts before the Lord. Thus we have the term, “wave offering.” They wanted to make sure God saw that they were giving Him something. They wanted to make sure He knew how grateful they were.

Of course we know something they didn’t know. We know that God is not confined to a tent or to any one particular place. God is everywhere. Thus, everything we do, every word we say, every thought we think, God is there. He sees everything. He not only knows what we have given Him, He knows the heart with which we have given it.


As we seek to put this teaching into practice in our lives, to apply it to our every day experience allow me to ask you several questions.

1. Are you giving of your time to further the kingdom of God?

Sure, you may be wrapped up with family, with business, or with community activities, and all of those are good, but a pleasant pagan could be doing all of that. What part of your time are you specifically giving up each week to further the kingdom of God? And don’t say, “I come to church.” That’s basic for all Christians and primarily benefits you. How are you using your time to expand His kingdom, and can you say that you give of your time in a sacrificial way?

2. How are you using your talents to further God’s kingdom?

Of all the gifts and abilities God has given you, are you using any of them regularly to make His glory known? Are you involved in using your talents in such a way that others are being blessed and are growing deeper in their faith?

3. Are you giving of your treasures on a regular basis to support the ongoing work of the kingdom of God?

Each year, as a church, we put together a ministry plan, some call it a budget, but it is really a ministry plan, which speaks to the ministries we hope to impact in the coming year. When people tithe, that’s giving a basic ten percent of their income to God, that helps us fund that ministry plan. When people are not faithful to give to God, then a certain amount of that ministry simply does not get done. Part of that money goes to support the ministry of the church, part goes to support church  plants in our state, in our country and part of it goes to support mission efforts around the globe. It takes tangible resources for our missionaries to live in foreign lands. To whom much is given, much is required. What are you giving back to God each week, and what does that say about your relationship with Him?

4. Where is your heart this morning?

You don’t have to answer. Your answers to the first three questions have answered for you.


Swindoll, Charles, Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, pg. 571.
Wells, Albert M. Jr. Inspiring Quotations, Nelson publishers. Pg. 203. Quote by Antoinette Bosco.

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