Pastoral Letter: February 25, 2022
“The LORD spoke to Moses: See, I have called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with divine spirit, with ability, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, in every kind of craft. Moreover, I have appointed with him Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; "
--Exodus 31: 1-6--
Friday, February 25, 2022
If you do not remember the names of Bezalel and Oholiab, you are missing out. Their contribution to the history of redemption contained in the Holy Bible represent one of the more boring sections of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their wanderings in the wilderness until God directed them into the Promised Land.
40 years of wandering punctuated by the occasional grumbling against God, attempts to usurp Moses’ authority and preparation for a new life in a land they would call their own. During that time of wandering God instructed Moses to create a Tabernacle where God would reside when he came down among the people.
God wanted the Tabernacle to be an earthly representation of his heavenly realms and he decided that he would, by way of the Holy Spirit, equip individuals with skills and talents necessary to construct the furnishings. Bezalel and Oholiab were the first of two and it would be the visions of beauty imparted to them by means of the Spirit that would shape the Tabernacle and all of its furnishings.
They were the human hands entrusted to build God’s dwelling place among God’s chosen people. The dimensions and their placement do not meet the bar of exciting or riveting narrative. It is the slow, steady, and deliberate work of master crafts persons pouring their talent and ability into curtains, tables, candleholders, and the like. The most famous piece of holy furniture they would construct would be the Ark of the Covenant.
When we sit down and recall from memory famous figures from the pages of the Bible, we are naturally drawn to those individuals who were military champions, powerful prophets, or amazing heroes of their own stories. I remember the names of Bezalel and Oholiab whom God entrusted and empowered to build a dwelling place for the Holy One of Israel.
Gift Based Ministry is the quality characteristic which calls us to consider two key components of citizenship in God’s glorious Kingdom. It calls us to consider the gifts that we have been given by the Holy Spirit, and we have all been given gifts by the Holy Spirit. It also calls us to the ministries of the Church where those gifts are good fits. Bezalel and Oholiab never preached in the Tabernacle. Bezalel and Oholiab never sang in the choir. Bezalel and Oholiab never led the army of Israel to victory over a multitude of foes. Bezalel and Oholiab built and furnished God’s dwelling place on earth.
Can you imagine it? It isn’t easy.
God determines that it is time to hang out with Moses and the Israelites. There is no suitable mountain peak nearby, so God is going to dwell in a tent, just like the Israelites and God wants that tent to look like God’s home in the heavenlies. God needs a place to sit, and think, and converse with Moses and for reasons that seem unusual God wants that throne to inhabit the space between the Cherubim on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant.
So, Bezalel and Oholiab take the instructions they have been given and they get to work putting the tabernacle together. God is happy with their work, and he spends a long-time meeting with the people within the Tabernacle until the day Solomon is given permission to build God a Temple.
What are your gifts? Do you know? Would you want to know? Would knowing them convince you that God was calling you to a ministry which would be important to God and to the people of God? How would it feel, to know, that the Holy Spirit has empowered you for a ministry that God prizes and values? Would you be okay doing side-line stuff?
I know a way to search you and examine you and uncover the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to you. If you want to know what they are and where God is calling you to serve, I can help you find out. How can your life be complete not knowing your gift or the ministries to which God has called you? How can the Church be complete if you refuse to take your place in it?
Grace and peace to you and may you keep one another safe.
-Reverend John Maich