Moses spent forty days and night on Mount Sinai receiving from Yahweh the Law as well as the instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle and the making of its furnishings and priestly garments.
Nothing is left to chance, no place allowed for human scheming. All is of God. Through skilled in all wisdom of the Egyptians, Moses was not left to draw the plans for Yahweh’s dwelling place; instead, he was bidden to make all things after the pattern shown him on Mount Sinai.
Now that the pattern had been completely set before him, the LORD makes known who are to be the principal craftsmen. Exodus 31:1-5—
Then the LORD said to Moses, “See I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.
The choice of the craftsmen were not left to chance or to Moses. They were chosen by God Himself. Whether these craftsmen already exhibited a degree of ability is uncertain. But we can be certain they were skilled craftsmen after the Spirit of God came upon them.
Although a large number of skilled and dedicated men and women would share in doing the work, they would be supervised by Bezalel and his helper, Oholiab. All were endowed by the Spirit of God for the task. Notice that Yahweh said, “Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I commanded you.”
Every Christian is spiritually gifted! At conversion, each believer receives one or more spiritual gifts that are to be developed and used. Ephesians 4:7 states—
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
Paul teaches us that we indeed are all one body, and that all good gifts proceed from Christ alone, who reigns in heaven having mightily conquered all His enemies, from where He bestows all gifts upon his Church. But yet nonetheless these gifts are differently and variously divided according to His will and pleasure, and therefore every believer ought to be content with that measure of grace that God has given him, and to bestow it to the common profit of the whole body. 1 Corinthians 12:7—
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Your spiritual gifts—the manifestation of the Spirit—is not for your sake! Gifts are given to build up one another and enable us to serve and glorify God together. The eye cannot say it has no need of the ear. If all were hands, how would we walk? Each part of the body is needed to serve the whole. The exercise of our manifestation of Spirit is needed to strengthen other saints. We, in turn, will be helped toward maturity through the gifts of others.
A wrong attitude asks, “Why should I attend church and get involved there? What will I get out of it?” By attendance and involvement, you will minister through your gifts to the good of others. And others will contribute to your spiritual welfare.
Mutual ministry of gifts rules out the Lone Ranger! No one is gifted enough, wise enough, or strong enough to live apart from others. We should not be parasites nor paralyzed members of the body of Christ.
Youth is not excused from the exercise of gifts. Paul wrote to his young friend in 1 Timothy 4:12-14—
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
It is biblically incorrect for a Christian to say, “I have no gift!” Possibly, you have not put your spiritual gift or gifts to use, but you’re a spiritually gifted member of the body of Christ! Some are spiritually endowed to be pastor-teachers, others to do the works of ministry—but all are gifted! Our gifts are assigned when we are born by the Holy Spirit into the family of God.
At the moment of a believer’s baptism into the body of Christ at regeneration, he is given a gift which he should exercise for the health of the whole body. Though gifts may lie dormant for months or years, they are given at our spiritual birthday.
For every gift He bestows, the Spirit of God has a planned sphere of service for the upbuilding of the church, for which each of believer will one day render account at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Parable of the Talents, using financial investments teaches that we shall be held responsible for all our endowments and opportunities—and this includes the use of our gifts, whether, one, two, or five.
It behooves us to develop our spiritual abilities. Paul writes in Romans 12:11—
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
We are not gifted equally. Though we share in the same Holy Spirit, who enables all believers to confess Jesus as Lord and who has baptized all believers into the body of Christ, we are given different spiritual gifts for service. More than once Paul uses the analogy of the human body with its many members— eyes, ears, hands, feet—to illustrate the varied gifts in the Church of Christ. He declares in 1 Corinthians 12:27—
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
How many different spiritual gifts are there? Some list as few as 9; others in the range of 15 to 22; and still others estimate many more. From our text today, I would say many more than we probably think!
We observe multiple gifts in operation in individuals described in the NT. For example, Philip had the gifts of wisdom, showing mercy, evangelism, and perhaps others unrecorded in the Bible.
Two or more gifts may often operate simultaneously to blend. Each believer has a different combination of gifts and ministries along with outlets to serve. We are not created equal, but we are unique. There will never be another you!
Non-Christians have talents through common grace, present from birth. Many unbelievers play the piano well, paint beautifully, sculpture realistically, master languages easily, speak eloquently, and write effectively. But these are talents, not gifts. No unbeliever has a spiritual gift. Only believers are gifted spiritually.
Talents have to do with techniques and methods; gifts have do with spiritual abilities. Talents depend on natural power, gifts on spiritual endowment. Talents instruct, inspire, or entertain on a natural level. Gifts relate to the building up of the saints. Something supernatural happens in the one who is ministering when a gift is exercised. Nothing supernatural happens in one who is performing when a talent is displayed. And though God may minister His grace, because He is sovereign, even though an unsaved person (who sings a song well, for example), that person has still only shown talent, not a gift.
The Israelites, who had been brickmakers and bricklayers in Egypt, were not qualified for extraordinary workmanship; but the Spirit who gave the apostles utterance in various tongues, miraculously gave Bezalel and Oholiab the skill that was lacking.
The honor which comes from God, is always attended with a work to be done; to be employed for His glory. Those whom God calls to any service, He will make fit for it. The Lord gives different gifts to different persons; let each mind his proper work, diligently remembering that whatever wisdom any one possesses, the Lord put it in the heart, to do his commandments.
Yahweh said of Bezalel in the KJV of Exodus 31:3—
And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.
WISDOM—to be wise, skillful, or prudent, denoting the compass of mind and strength of capacity necessary to judge what is wise or best to be done.
UNDERSTANDING—to separate, distinguish, discern; capacity to comprehend the different parts of a work, how to connect, arrange, etc., in order to make a complete whole.
KNOWLEDGE— denoting particular acquaintance with a person or thing; practical, experimental knowledge.
Wisdom, understanding and knowledge appear to be the essential components of a spiritual gift, whether constructing the Tabernacle, teaching, ruling, showing mercy, helping, giving, discerning, preaching, encouraging, reaching the lost or exercising other manifestations of the Spirit.
In the case of Bezalel, Oholiab and all the craftsmen, the supernatural enhancements of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge were instantaneous. The gifts of tongues at Pentecost were INSTANTANEOUS, while the gifts of preaching and teaching were DEVOLPMENTAL. Most spiritual gifts appear to be developmental—as we walk and work in faith and obedience the gifts are developed to their fuller potential.
With this in mind, we need to understand and remember that whatever God calls us to do He will enable us to do. This explains that wonderful truth in Philippians 2:13—
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
The Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, empowering and controlling us—but we must, as a matter of our own wills, consecrate our lives to God and often times work hard and long, to enlarge wisdom, understanding and knowledge needed to accomplish what God calls us to do.
I believe most spiritual gifts are of the developmental nature. A person might have the gift of evangelism, only he or she may never have learned how to share the Gospel clearly with others. Another person might have the gift of teaching, but perhaps has never taken the opportunity or time to develop teaching skills.
Paul did not become a great teacher overnight. It took years of hard work and, at first, the results were not encouraging. At the beginning, even the disciples would not accept Paul or his teaching. Paul actually had been a believer for 18 years before he began to have a major impact on the world for Christ. The first three years were spend in Damascus and the Arabian Desert. His first trip took him to Jerusalem for 15 days. Then he was in Tarsus for 14 years, followed by a year in Antioch.
It took 18 years of spiritual development until Paul was ready to go out and turn the world upside down!
If you desire to be an effective teacher of the Word of God, be prepared to sacrifice—it takes a hard work developing teaching skills and methods, and gaining wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. It might take considerable time before anyone will even listen to you.
God gives each us the direction and power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish His purpose. If we do His will, we are living supernaturally, and our lives are greatly blessed, as are the lives of those around us. But if we fail to carry out God’s plan for our lives, we live by the flesh—frustrated and fruitless lives— without purpose and meaning.
In 2 Chronicles 19:9, King Jehoshaphat gave orders to the Israelites. His orders are applicable to Christians—
You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the LORD.
Interestingly, the three things that filled Bezalel (wisdom, understanding, knowledge) embody the FEAR OF THE LORD in Proverbs 9:10—
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
The construction of the Tabernacle and its furnishings was a scared and holy task that was to be performed out of the deepest expression of reverence for God.
Of significant importance, is the fact that the craftsmen are not builders, not architects. They are Spirit-filled Israelites, who will construct the Tabernacle in the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 11:2 predicts of Christ—
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
There is no doubt that CHRIST is the One foreshadowed by BEZALEL.. The OT is all about Jesus. Hebrews 10:7 attributes Psalm 40:7 to Jesus—
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll.
And Exodus 31:1-5 is one of those passages written about Christ— the Spirit filled Bezalel prefigures Christ. None but Jesus is capable of building the house for God and every detail of our present type clearly establishes that fact.
BEZALEL means IN THE SHADOW OF GOD. He was under the shadow, influence, and protection of God and was called to make those things, which were shadows of good things to come; and he may be considered in all as a type of Christ, who is the Head and Master builder of His Church.
Christ has the care and oversight of God’s dwelling place, and under whom others work. Psalm 127:1 states—
Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.
Following Peter’s great confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Jesus was called by name—eminently chosen to this work— He took not this honor to Himself, but was called of God, as Bezalel was, and was hid and abode under the shadow of the Almighty all the while He completed the task assigned.
BEZALEL was the son of URI, which means LIGHT or FIRE. God is a consuming fire and He is light! Jesus is called the Son of God—the Light of the World! Like Bezalel, Jesus was of the tribe of Judah.
We read in the Psalms:
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings (17:8).
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed (57:1).
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings (63:7).
THE SHADOW OF YOUR WINGS speaks of the place of intimacy, of protection, of fellowship. This is the place which the Lord Jesus has ever occupied in His relationship with the Father. John 1:18 says of Jesus—
No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
Symbolically, Bezalel occupies the place held by the CRAFTSMAN—the Son of Light. The “Son of Light” at once announces that He is the Son of God, for “God is light, and in Him is no darkness.”
Therefore, Hebrews 1:3 declares—
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
The One filled with the Spirit of God—in wisdom and understanding and knowledge—was competent TO WORK IN GOLD. As we have seen in our study of the Tabernacle, GOLD symbolizes DEITY. At the close of His public ministry, we find the Son saying to the Father in John 17:4—
I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
And He was competent TO WORK IN SILVER. SILVER speaks of REDEMPTION. None but Jesus who came from the Father could do the stupendous and wondrous work of redemption according to Psalm 49:7-8—
No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough.
The blessed outcome of Christ’s work in silver can be heard in Revelation 5:9—
And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
With the precious blood Christ, we are redeemed! And therefore, He is competent TO WORK IN BRONZE. BRONZE symbolizes JUDGMENT. The bore in His body the entire weight of Divine judgment. He was made sin and a curse for us—suffering the inflexible penalty of God’s righteous law on our behalf, receiving the wages of sin in our stead.
Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:14—
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.
The WORK IN BRONZE was completed when He cried, “IT IS FINISHED.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit—Deity redeemed man in work of judgment—in work of GOLD, SILVER and BRONZE!
He is competent TO CUT AND SET STONES, which refer to the STONES on the shoulders and breastplate of the High Priest. On these stones are engraved the names of God’s people. These stones foreshadow the Church described in 1 Peter 2:5—
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Christ promises in Revelation 2:17—
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
Among the Greeks a white stone was a symbol of acquittal, as a black stone was of guilt. The white stone implies justification, innocence and victory. A new name implies a new relationship to God and the Lamb in their eternal state. Hallejuah! He cuts and sets stones!
And He is competent TO WORK IN WOOD. Of course, WOOD is symbolic of HUMANITY. Ephesians 2:10 states—
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
And finally, He is competent TO ENGAGE IN ALL KINDS OF CRAFTSMANSHIP or WORKMANSHIP. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:17—
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
We are His workmanship! We have been given a new heart, and a new Spirit, and in them new light and life, new affections and desires, new delights and joys; here are new eyes to see with, new ears to hear with, new feet to walk, and new hands to work and act with!
Every Christian is an artistic design of Christ—gifted and unique! We are His WORKMANSHIP—a new creation!
Notice Exodus 31:6—
Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you:
OHOLIAB means MY FATHER’S TENT. AHISAMACH means MY BROTHER SUPPORTS. Hence, OHOLIAB is appointed to help BEZALEL with task of construction. In the NT, we find that the Spirit of God helps Christ with the building of God’s house! Whether Oholiab symbolizes the Holy Spirit helping and supporting the work of Christ, I am not certain! But I would not rule it out!
BEZALEL and OHOLIAB are responsible for the construction of all that pertained to the Tabernacle and its service, though they themselves possibly only supervised in the construction. Likewise, Christ and the Spirit are supervising the building of the Church.
THE CRAFTSMEN symbolize born again believers who are the WORKMANSHIP of Christ, having been spiritually gifted by the Spirit. As born again believers, we perform the actual task!
The fourteen things specified, in Exodus 31:7-11, portray a salvation and picture those in Christ—
The Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent—the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand—and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.
Today’s passage is open-and-shut! We have been gifted by God’s Spirit to do the work of the LORD! Like the Israelite craftsmen, Christians are to do just as He commands!
God’s work must be done in God’s way!
If we do everything according to the Word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, we will please God!