The Master’s Craftsman
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 wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—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 crafts.” Exodus 31:1-5
We tend to skim through or skip certain parts of the Bible because they are full of detailed descriptions. One such part describes the building and furnishing of the tabernacle (Exodus 21-30, 35-39). If we look more closely, however, we’ll be in awe of this incredible tent. Not only was it the place God chose to come to dwell with his people in the wilderness, but also it was splendidly crafted.
God chose a man named Bezalel to oversee this vast project, filled him with the Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, knowledge and all kinds of skills–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 artistic crafts. God gave him the help of a man named Oholiab, and they both received the ability to teach others (Exodus 31:1-6, 35:34). The Lord gave other gifted artisans wisdom and understanding to do exactly as they were instructed. The tabernacle and its furnishings were to be built according to a specific pattern—the earthly model of a heavenly reality that he showed Moses (Exodus 25:8-9).
The tabernacle would be full of objects carefully crafted of gold, silver, and bronze. Other objects were to be carved out of stone and wood by skilled artisans: engravers, designers, and weavers. Embroiderers would work in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen. Some people would prepare anointing oil and fragrant incense. The furnishings would range from the beautiful ark of the covenant to the plain—even a little drab—goats’ hair curtains (Exodus 26:7).
Everything they made had to be portable and durable. The craftsmen didn’t know it, but after these things were assembled, they would be packed up and carried through a desert wilderness for more than forty years. Later, they would be used until a great temple was built hundreds of years later (1 Kings 6:1).
God had generously supplied the needed materials when the children of Israel plundered the Egyptians before leaving Egypt. (Exodus 12:35-36). When Moses asked, the people gave so generously that they had to be stopped—no more was needed (Exodus 36:3-7).
If you’ve never considered your ability as God-given and usable for his kingdom, ask him to show you where there’s a need. God wants every worker’s labor to be blessed and filled with the Holy Spirit. Maybe God wants you to teach your skill to others.
God gave a detailed list of instructions for the tabernacle (Exodus 21-30, 35-39). Look for pictures of the tabernacle and its furnishings in a Bible dictionary or online. Which items do you find most beautiful or awesome?
Read Exodus 12:33-36. Why did the Egyptians give so much gold, silver, and clothing to the “children of Israel” as they were leaving? Why might the Egyptians have felt guilty? How can you be a generous giver of what God has given you?
Who was Bezalel’s grandfather according to Exodus 31:1-5? How can you pass on what you know about God to children you know?
Nancy J. Baker
This devotion is part of our series Not-As-Famous Men and Women of the Bible.