Bezalel and Oholiab Prepared and Filled for God’s Use:
Previously we saw that Adam was directly commanded by God as to what type of work he should do and specifically placed in the context of where he ought to do this work. But most of us have not had this type of experience and many of us would even balk at following such specific commands from God. It is good for us that there are other passages in Scripture highlighting different interactions with God and individuals concerning their work. Next let’s examine Exodus 31:1 – 11.
The LORD also spoke to Moses: “Look, I have appointed by name Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with God’s Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every craft to design artistic works in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut gemstones for mounting, and to carve wood for work in every craft. I have also selected Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be with him. I have placed wisdom within every skilled craftsman in order to make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, the mercy seat that is on top of it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— the table with its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, the basin with its stand— the specially woven garments, both the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons to serve as priests, the anointing oil, and the fragrant incense for the sanctuary. They must make them according to all that I have commanded you.”
God speaks to Moses about the work Bezalel is to do. God appoints Bezalel but the announcement of that appointment comes through the leader of Israel. His assignment from God is given to him through the intermediary of Moses. This is also true for Oholiab and every other skilled craftsman in Israel at the time. Their instructions from God come through Moses. I’m not going to suggest that this experience is normative. There are some special circumstances involved. The relationship God had with Moses was unique. The task of building the Tabernacle was also special; however, the uniqueness of the circumstances should not completely negate some questions this passage causes us to ask.
Have you ever sought spiritual council from church leaders about what you should be doing as work?
If you are in spiritual leadership at a church do you feel that it would be okay from you to give council about work?
Being a Campus Minister I come to realize that some of my deepest spiritual conversations with students have been involving what they ought to do with their lives and that topic naturally includes fulltime employment. We may be missing some of God’s guidance for us by making our employment and career decisions outside of the council of our local church.
God calls Bezalel to a specific assignment. God has made sure that Bezalel is filled with Spirit in such a way as to be able to complete the assignment. Interestingly enough the filling provides wisdom, understanding and ability.
Have you ever sought the Spirit’s aid with wisdom, understanding, and ability in your job?
How would your current job change if you had the Spirit’s filling to do it?
The assumption we often have is that God’s Spirit provides this ability because Bezalel’s task is of sacred importance. God provides this ability because He wants His tabernacle to be completed properly. Bezalel was about a sacred task. He would not have needed or received God’s Spirit if the task was merely a secular task.
Let’s examine this for a minute. Obviously Bezalel was a professional craftsman. This was not his first project. This will not be the last one he completes either. The wisdom, understanding and ability provided by the Spirit, was it an instantaneous miracle or was it developed over time through experience? My speculation is that it is a little bit of both. If we look at the passage we notice that Bezalel is already filled at the time of God’s communication to Moses so in some this gifting precedes the calling. This means that Bezalel would have been filled or being filled as he was working on projects not necessarily connected with the Tabernacle.
He also was gaining Spirit filled wisdom, understanding and ability willing working on other projects in preparation for the Tabernacle. Then what happens after the Tabernacle is completed? Will Bezalel’s gifting miraculously disappear or will he be an even better craftsman in all that he does because of his divinely appointed work on the Tabernacle. In the narrative of a human life it is not very easy to separate the “sacred” things you do for the Lord and those “secular” things that are just work.
Have you ever seen your employment as a vital aspect of God developing you for His specific sacred purposes?
God not only fills Bezalel with the Spirit but also places wisdom in every skilled craftsman in Israel. This indicates that God’s involvement in our work is much more normative than we typically acknowledge.
There is one more fascinating sentence in this passage. “I have also selected Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be with him.” The entirety of Oholiab’s assignment can be summed up in the idea of being with Bezalel. God specifically appointed Oholiab to be Bezalel’s helper, right-hand man, assistant, etc. We were not made to live alone as we clearly see in Genesis 2. With the idea of Eve being created as a helper surrounded by the context of Adam’s (and all of humanity’s) work assignments we cannot ignore the fact that we were not made to work alone.
For a couple summers during college I worked for a landscaping company. While working there we had developed a saying. “No one weeds alone.” This saying had two meetings. One was a directive that you never sent anyone to do the mind-numbing task of weeding by themselves. If weeding needed to be done it was done as a team. But the saying also developed from the observation that “no one weeds alone.” If you sent someone off to weed by themselves they would quickly succumbed to the boredom and slowdown, sleep, rest, and/or get distracted by something else. Weeding is just a miniscule example that we were not made to work alone. Intimately knowing humanity who He created, God assigns Oholiab to be Bezalel co- worker.
Have you ever been in the role of helper? Have you found that position meaningful?
Have you ever been forced to work alone? Do you prefer to work alone? If so why?
Have you ever been part of a team that functioned well? Have you ever had a helper/coworker that was completely essential for your success?