After leaving Egypt, the Israelites took part in the construction of God’s sanctuary, also called the tent of meeting, while they sojourned in the desert. So dedicated were the Israelites to the sanctuary that they contributed more than was needed for its construction. They gave so much that the craftsmen in charge of construction told Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” Moses then had to tell the people, “Stop! Do not do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.”
The book of Exodus gives a very detailed account concerning the construction of the temple and the men who were involved in its work. But men weren’t the only ones involved; women and children were involved, as well. Exodus 38:8, in particular, reads:
He [a craftsman named Bezalel] made the basin of bronze and its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the ministering women who ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting.
From the verse above we see that these women not only ministered in the tent of meeting, but they also assisted in its construction by allowing the bronze basins to be made out of their mirrors.
1. The ministering women in the tent of meeting gave to the work of the Lord. These women didn’t donate any old thing, like some shabby clothes they no longer wore or some dented jewelry that no longer sparkled. They donated mirrors which they probably only had one or two of each. People normally don’t have a surplus of mirrors, especially not bronze ones. However, these women thought nothing of giving their valuable mirrors to the work of the Lord.
Anything that God wants to do, He can do it all by Himself. Just like He created the world on His own, He could have constructed the tent of meeting on His own. He didn’t need the Israelites to contribute anything, but He wanted their contributions. Similarly, He doesn’t need our help in doing great things, but He wants our help. He wants us to be a part of His work by using our talents and giving of our time and possessions for Him. God will not force us to give to His work because God loves a cheerful giver, not someone who gives reluctantly or under compulsion. He wants us to give from the heart. If we give a little, God will use us a little, but if we give a lot, God will use us a lot.
2. The ministering women in the tent of meeting were engaged in ministry. The book of Exodus also spotlights the work of Aaron, who became the first High Priest, and of his sons, who became priests after him. These ministering women only receive a single mention, and we aren’t told what they did specifically. What sort of ministry were they involved in? Praise and worship? Children’s church? Preparing sacrifices? What did their “ministering” consist of? We don’t know the answers to these questions. All we know is that they “ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting.”
It is God’s desire for all believers to be involved in ministry for Him, whether we are male or female. Everyone has a seat at the table in God’s kingdom regardless of race, class, age, or gender.
One of the great things about God’s work is that everything we do (except sin, obviously), can be a form of ministry. If we do all that we do for the glory of God – cleaning our room, washing dishes, spending time with family and friends, watching a movie, going shopping – all of it can be ministry. Paul recognized this when he said, “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” We don’t have to have a position in the church to be engaged in ministry. You can minister as an accountant, an athlete, a teacher, a chef, a singer, or an actress. You can minister with whatever abilities God has given you, in whatever place He places you.
There are some who believe that women are to be silent in the church and have no role in God’s work, but this belief is not true. Scripture is replete with women who were active in the work of God and specifically chosen, anointed, and called by Him to do amazing things. Deborah was a God-appointed judge who delivered Israel from one of their enemies, King Jabin. Another woman, Jael, helped Deborah by killing the commander of Jabin’s army. Esther was used by God to save His people from being exterminated by the wicked Haman. Paul makes reference to numerous women who worked with him in ministry including Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary of Rome, Junia, and Rufus’ mother. The Samaritan woman, who Jesus met at the well, was responsible for bringing many people to faith in Christ because she told them her testimony. Mary Magdalene, Salome, the mother of James and Joses, and others were also dedicated female followers of Jesus the Christ.
Kyle Winkler said, “If you are a woman, feel liberated to boldly proclaim the Good News of Christ without fear of God’s (or man’s) disapproval…Like Mary Magdalene, women of the church have been charged by God in dramatic ways to bring new and fresh messages to His people. God has anointed and commissioned you to ‘go and tell’!”