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Evangelist, Baptist, Husband, Father, Mid-30's.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Workman Approved

"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..." - Exodus 31:2-3

These are two of my favorite verses in all of scripture. I have been thinking about them and similar passages a lot recently as I've been seeing three terrifying verses taking place in America, practically the exact antithesis of Exodus 31:2-3,
For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts
__is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah
support and supply,
__all support of bread,
__and all support of water;
the mighty man and the soldier,
__the judge and the prophet,
__the diviner and the elder,
the captain of fifty
__and the man of rank,
the counselor and the skillful magician
__and the expert in charms. - Isaiah 3:1-3
Based on these two verses, we must arrive at the conclusion that the Bible teaches that God gives to each according to his good pleasure; to some he gives much and to others he takes away.

Bezalel was one of those who much was given, for the express purpose of building the finery in God's tabernacle. His list of talents is impressive. Notice that the opposite in Isaiah 3 is a lack of experts, people who have no virtues, no glory, and who instead oppress one another and work for food and gold that perishes, trinkets and ornaments, chains and bracelets and bonnets... Solomon put it this way,

"To the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting...this is also vanity and a striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 2:26)."

We as Christians, those who find refuge in Christ, will all agree that we would rather be like Bezalel (literally, in the shade of God), than those who strive after wind. Just in case you don't, look at Paul's admonition to the lazy, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10)." The Christian life is one of workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), of great accomplishment, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12)."

The works that Jesus did were magnificent. He made the blind see, the deaf hear, and the mute sing, he turned many from sin to righteousness, he raised the dead, and in one sacrifice he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. In Mark 7:37 it says, "He did all things well." Yet in his brief three year ministry, his works were limited to a small swathe of geographical land, and a limited number of people. Greater things were yet to be done.

This brings me back to Exodus 31:2-3, and Bezalel's infilling of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:12, Jesus concludes that the purpose of his egress from the world was so that that Spirit would come to believers. First and foremost, like Bezalel, you are now filled with the Holy Spirit. This was a unique privilege under the Obsolete Covenant, but under the New Covenant, every son of God is filled and led by the Spirit.

Now, is that where our similarity with Bezalel ends? He was given ability, intelligence, and knowledge. The Apostle Paul expressly states that Christians are called from all rankings in life, not many are wise, not many noble, not many powerful, but beloved, just because we were not wise when we were called, does not mean we must or ought stay in such a state. In fact, James exhorts us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5)." and jump back with me to Ecclesiastes 2:26, "to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy..." Dear Christian, do you please God? Beloved, you do, but it is because of Christ who lives in you that you please your Heavenly Father (Galatians 2:20).

If we venture into the Sinaitic Desert, or into Israel, or Transjordan, you will not find the handwork of Bezalel. It has perished, time and vandals have worn this tabernacle out. It was then replaced by a temple, built similarly by men of God, but today on Mount Moriah it stands not, torn down by the greed of men and the constant changing shadows of the world.

But beloved, the building which you are building stands today and is everlasting, for Christ says, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)." Peter elaborates, "As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5)." Your part in this is as follows, "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12)..." and "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them (Romans 12:6)..." and "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7)."

Therefore, beloved, like Bezalel, God has known you by name, he numbered your days as when there were yet none, he calls you his son, the adopted brother of his Son, and he has filled you with his Spirit. He gives gifts according to his grace, not measured on our ability, but on the matchless worth of Christ (Ephesians 4:7-8). If you lack wisdom, then ask, if you lack motivation, then look to Christ and walk in the steps he prepared for you, if you lack ability, grow in stature before men and God like your Saviour. Emulate Christ by "doing all things well."

For to this you have been called, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3)..." Therefore do not succumb to the laziness and oppression, but live as one called and appointed by God to build up a spiritual house which will never perish.

In the New Covenant, God says this of you, as he says of all Christians,

"See, I have called you by name, by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled you with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship...that you shall be building the church of God, a work that will never perish...According to all that I have commanded you, you shall do."

See also: Laboring in Vain

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