Posts Tagged ‘bezalel’

This year, I am going to post creative challenges from God’s Word, the idea is simple, read the passage and create something based on it.

Matthew 23:11-12

A few words on greatness from God’s perspective. How can you use your gifts to be great in the Kingdom today?

There’s this enigmatic figure in the Bible named Bezalel who should give all of us creative types both great joy and a challenge. We read about him in Exodus 31:2-4 (ESV)

“See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”

This guy must have been amazing. There are some people who even believe he was not just a man, but what theologians call a christophany, an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. In other words some people believe that before Jesus came in the flesh as a baby, me made an appearance as Bezalel. I doubt this because the Bible makes reference to his father and his ancestry. Still his gifting is beyond remarkable. Look at all the passage says about him.

“I have filled him with the Spirit of God.” It is notable here that Bezalel is the first person listed in all of Scripture to have been killed with the Holy Spirit. So much for those who want to split hairs between gifts and talents. This Spirit filled craftsman was given so much, and the purpose of that gifting was to do artistic craftsmanship to the glory of God.

“Ability and intelligence” This carried through the theme of the Spirit of Skill from yesterday, but please note something else, intelligence. Not only did he have creative ability, but he was given the wisdom to use his gift well, in a way that honors God. Brothers and sisters it is not enough to be good at what we do, we must also exercise wisdom as we use those gifts.

“with knowledge and all craftsmanship.” God allowed him to know how to do things. Think about your creative gift. Surely there is a lot of work involved in building and developing what you have been given, but so much of what you do almost feels instinctive, like second-nature, doesn’t it. When people ask me how long I have been doing art, I can’t really specify a date, it’s always been with me. That’s because God has given us the knowledge to do certain things and do them well. Doing them well is key, that brings us to craftsmanship. This implies God has also given us the ability to bring our best to the table. I’m reminded of Proverbs 22:29 Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank. Your gift was given to you by the ultimate King to serve before the ultimate King, so bring your best to every assignment.

From there we get the laundry list of all Bezalel’s abilities: to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” In short, God made Bezalel really good at a whole lot of things. He has likely done similar things with you. Artistic people tend to gravitate toward multiple creative pursuits. This too may well be by design. Rather than list these out, I want to look at why Bezalel was given these gifts. He was given these tasks to lead, supervise and do the work of building the Tabernacle. His gifts were given for the purpose of drawing people into worship and glorifying God. If you are a Christ following creative, it’s likely the same for you. Now this doesn’t mean you have to do all your work for use in the church, (though you should offer your gifts to the local church as often as you can) but it does mean that what we do should in some way glorify God, open doors to the Gospel, etc.

The point is, your creative ability comes from God. Use it in ways that will please him.    

Over the years, a few people have given me a hard time about using the terms gifts and talents interchangeably. They say things like, “Well gifts are spiritual and they are given by God, while talents are more worldly.” Here’s why I choose to ignore them:

First of all, is there any good thing that we have, that does not come from God? The answer is no. Now my naysayers will want to point out the multitude of people who are extremely talented and are not using their gifts (there I go again) in any way that glorifies God. That is absolutely true, but it in no way changes my point. Perhaps the most important thing God gives us in terms of life in this world is air. Many people who have no connection to God breathe air, as a matter of fact they all do, and none of that makes it any less precious. I see our gifts and talents the same way.

Other people would point to the various lists of Spiritual gifts, and say that out talent are not listed there. I would argue that the first person said to be filled with the Spirit in al of Scripture was a man named Bezalel. Do you know what gift the Spirit gave him was? 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 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.” In other words, the first person said to be filled with the Spirit in all of Scripture was an artist and the Spirit gave him a gift my differentiating friends would call a talent.

I believe the words “gifts” and “talents” are synonymous, and if you don’t, that’s okay, but here’s what’s important. Every good thing in your life comes from God. It was given to you, by Him to be used to His glory. So whatever good things you have, whether they feel “spiritual” or not, come from God and are to be used for His sake. You are talented and you are gifted and you are supposed to use whatever gifts you have to serve others, remember? (1 Peter 4:10). So take what you have, no matter what you call it and put it to work. God deserves nothing less, and this world needs what you have. That’s why God gave it to you.

Assignment: Look over your list of gifts from an earlier assignment and add to it anything you may have missed. Have you mentally disqualified something from your list because you didn’t think it was spiritual? If it does not involve blatant sin, add it to your list.

Okay, I guess technically the first artist in the Bible is God, but today in my devotional reading, I got to Exodus 31, which tells us about Bezalel. If you haven’t read this chapter, as a Christian creative, you need to. As we read through the previous chapters, Scripture takes a break from the story of the exodus from Egypt to give us some very detailed instructions from God on how the tabernacle and all it’s implements, as well as the robes for the priests, incense, etc. are to be constructed. I can almost imagine Moses going, “Lord, I’m not an artist, how am I going to do this?”

Then in chapter 31, God answers the question. God fills someone with His Spirit and gives him gifts to create all that is required. This is incredibly good news for those of us in the church with a creative bent. As far as I can see, this artist, a man named Bezalel, is the first person listed in Scripture to be filled with God’s Spirit. His artistic, creative gifts, come from God, and, just as all good things do, so do yours. You might say we creatives have a Bezalel anointing, though I don’t want to push that too far. Instead, I want to look at something related to our call. God’s specifications for the Tabernacle were very exacting and He gifted Bezalel to meet those specifications. As discussed in an earlier post, there was still plenty of room to create within those boundaries, but the boundaries were very important.

If you go to the next chapter, we see the first recorded misuse of creativity by God’s people, the golden calf. This is the polar opposite of Bezalel’s calling. Here an image was made that not only had nothing to do with the Lord, but was specifically the opposite of what God wants us to do with the skills He has given us. People created in God’s image are not supposed to create gods that fit their image of what God should be. They had just seen God part the Red Sea, dispose of the most powerful army in the world at that time, and free them from 400 years of captivity. It’s only been a few days and already they’re making idols to lead them back to slavery. That’s the only thing an idol can do, enslave us and I think that’s the point.

There is immense freedom in living God’s way and we have immense creative freedom in God. He created us to create. The question then is what will we do with our freedom? Will we use it to honor God or turn away from Him? The best thing we can do with our creative freedom is to submit our gifts to the Lord.

When we are submitted to Him, we are truly free!

They’re the first two artists listed in Scripture. Many people have never heard of them, but I think they are pretty important and we can learn quite a few things from them. They were the primary people called to do the work of creating the tabernacle and their stories are found in Exodus chapters 31-36.

1. Your talent is a spiritual gift. I tend to use the words gifts and talents pretty interchangeably and one day a friend called me on it. He said that talents and spiritual gifts are two different things. His evidence for this were the many talented people that do not operate in ways that honor God. Exodus 31:2,3 seems to refute this concept. “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.” His skills and his talents seem to come as a result of his filling with the Spirit. I can understand why some might think differently, but ask yourself this question: “Is there anything good that we have received that does not come from God?”

2. We need to submit ourselves and our gifts to God. Exodus 36:1 “So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.” Think about those descriptions of all the things that God had Bezalel and Oholiab make. They are very exact and very precise. God has a clear image of how each item should look and how it should be constructed, not to mention how they should be handled. Did you ever stop to wonder if God has a similar view about the things we create? What would happen if we submitted all of our creating to God at least as it pertains to the things we do in His service and service to the Church. This really should be a no-brainer as we are called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. (Romans 12)

3.We need to submit ourselves to those God has placed in authority over us. Did you notice Bezalel and Oholiab didn’t part ways with Moses over creative differences? No, God gave the plans to Moses, Moses gave them to Bezalel and Oholiab, and Oholiab and Bezalel did what Moses told them to do. Moses was the one in authority. He was the one tasked with carrying out God’s order. Exodus 36:2-3 “2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. 3 They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary.” In the same way, when we as artists are called upon to help the leaders of our churches to help them creatively express a message, we are responsible to follow their lead and give them our best efforts. After all they are the ones who will be held responsible to God and we need to take seriously the responsibility to them. Hebrews 13:17 reminds us: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

Our creative abilities are a wonderful gift to us from God. Using them to honor God brings Him glory. In the end that’s what it’s all about.