I’ve never been able to build, fix or repair anything—at least in a way that is acceptable. (Although I think there’s nothing that a coat hanger and duct tape cannot sort out!).
I am envious of and awestruck by people who can build, fix things and do it with confidence. In my house, if I pick up a hammer or screwdriver my family calls 911…they know it will be far worse than when I started. What was a mere leak in the faucet has now flooded the bathroom. What was a simple light bulb change (unscrew the old one and screw in the new one) now needs a whole new fixture.
If I do attempt to put something together on my own, when I am through it always seems like there are a few parts left over. I have learned that when I buy a grill or table or anything that needs “some assembly” it is better to get someone else to put it together.
Not surprisingly, when God decided that he needed a house built for him so he could live among his people, I didn’t get that call. Bezalel did. He was given the task of not only building the Tabernacle of Moses, but all the furnishings, clothing, oils, altars—everything.
In Exodus 31:1-6 we read: “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. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him.’”
What’s noteworthy here is that Bezalel is the first person in the Bible of whom God says he has filled him with the Spirit of God. Understand that this person is not a religious leader, a priest, a Levite or a prophet.
No, the first person we read of to be filled by God with his Spirit is a tradesperson—a businessperson—a secular person. Someone who worked in the secular not the sacred. Someone who worked in the marketplace not the ministry.
God not only called Bezalel and filled him with his Spirit, he also gave him a staff: Oholiab and other skilled workers. Bezalel was to be the builder, developer, overseer and project manager.
This is not a Bible anomaly.
Joseph and Jesus were carpenters/builders.
All of Jesus’s disciples were businesspersons.
Paul was a business owner.
Lydia was a business owner.
Aquila and Priscila were businesspersons.
So, if you have ever thought, I’d love to be in the ministry, but I’m stuck in this secular situation, know that you already are serving God. Whatever you’re doing today, you’re helping build a house for God.
It’s a daunting responsibility. Bezalel was given clear and specific instructions on what he was to do, but notice from the Exodus account that something was missing: the resources.
Then an amazing thing happened. Exodus 36:1-7 records: “[Moses said:] ‘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.’ 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. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.’ Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: ‘No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.’ And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.”
They had a building fund drive—a capital campaign—that was so successful that they had to tell the people not to bring any more. Amazing!
I witnessed something similar as a boy growing up in India. My father was a pastor and church planter, and one weekend he announced an offering for another church he was preparing to start in a different part of town.
People in India may not have a lot of money, but they do have a lot of gold—in fact, India transacts more in gold than any other country on the planet. So, the following Sunday, church members lined up to bring their offerings to the front of the church—finger rings, nose rings, toe rings, necklaces—where a jeweler sat to assay them.
There was still quite a line when the jeweler told my father we had received enough money for the project. Dad announced, “OK, after the third person in line, everyone else can go back to their seats. We don’t need any more.”
That kind of thing happens when God places his Spirit on leaders in the marketplace. I’m convinced that, at least in the United States, the next revival is not going to be in the church house. I believe it has already started in the marketplace, where people are using their skills and talents and resources to help build for God, and by so doing witness for Jesus.
If you have been working “in the world” and wishing you were “in ministry,” I hope that you may have a new awareness that those two things are not mutually exclusive. And a greater appreciation of the fact that all gifts are from God. Remember, Moses declared that God had called Bezalel by name and “filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills” (Exodus 35:30).
Whatever your job, in all that you do God has gifted you to serve him there.
What should be our response to that? Well, when we know that all we have comes from him and belongs to him, then we should do everything for him. Our response should be joyful, not begrudging.
Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and “every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work” (Exodus 36:2). Those whose attitude was not that they had to be involved, but that they got to be involved.
Willing people have some noticeable characteristics. They are cheerful. They have a “want to” attitude. They have a sense of anticipation. They want to do what God wants them to do.
Which leads to the question, how do you know when God is speaking to you? In the Bible, I see God revealing his will to people in four ways:
A call from birth. Think of Samson, Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Jesus, for example.
A thunderbolt. Abraham, Moses and the burning bush, Isaiah’s vision, Paul on the road to Damascus.
A growing awareness. Like Joseph, whose sense of destiny developed over time.
An open door. Consider Esther’s elevation to queen, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
I wasn’t called from birth, nor have I ever received a bolt from the blue. God has spoken to me through a combination of growing awareness and open doors.
Those needs, opportunities and good situations have brought me on an incredible journey. From arriving in the United States with less than $1 in my pocket almost 50 years ago, through working as a janitor and cook at a Bible college to later returning as its president, and now consulting with business and church leaders around the world.
There has been a common factor in all my different situations, however, as there is for you wherever you may be serving God. It’s the decision to say yes or no to what is in front of you.
My advice: Be like Bezalel. His response was a yes: “I will do what God asks me to do.”
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