Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.
Exodus 25:2 ESV
The materials to build the Ark and the Tabernacle were to be donated. That particular collection was a one time event, and no one was forced to give anything.
The olive oil for the Menorah was different. God said, “And you, you are to command the children of Israel to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.” (Exodus 27:20 TS2009) In order to fulfill the purpose of the command, this had to be an ongoing tax to be collected for as long as the Menorah should remain burning.
If you didn’t have olive trees of your own, then you would have to work out a deal with someone who did. Maybe you would donate some labor or your community would all pitch in together to buy oil. However the gathering and donation of oil happened, it wasn’t optional. God didn’t give the people a choice.
I am reminded of two of Yeshua’s commands. The first command is this:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:14,16 ESV
The second command is this:
Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Mark 16:15 ESV
Oil, the Menorah, and light are all metaphors of the Holy Spirit, and James told us that good works are the evidence of the working of the Spirit. We are to continually be a light to the world by preaching the gospel and doing good works wherever we go. We can never say, “I told someone about the Gospel once, so I’ve done my part.”
In order for the oil of the Spirit to be constantly replenished and our light to continually shine, we must always be looking for opportunities to serve, to tell of God’s faithfulness, to show his love to the world around us. Those good works are the visible light of the Spirit within us.