Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bezalel - Intention & Purpose Part 1

I have been reading my bible twice a day, every day since the first of the year. With no pride, because I know it is only the grace of God, I tell you I have not missed a single day. I have been reading through the "Unlocking the Bible" reading plan.

The reading plan breaks down into four portions: Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. It may sound like a lot, but the Proverbs portion is only a few verses, the day's Psalm is sometimes even broken down into portions. It's never more than a chapter or so of NT, and never more than a couple chapters of the OT. I really like the reading plan, and I read Psalms, Proverbs and New Testament first thing in the morning and I read the Old Testament passages at night before I go to bed.

Part of the reason I end with the Old Testament at night is because a lot of it reads almost like a bedtime story. I also figure the more challenging portions of the OT (Hello Leviticus!) will just make falling asleep that much easier. Right now I am in the book of Exodus. Much of Exodus reads like an engaging story, reading the tales of Moses' adventures before I go off to sleep. However, there are portions of if it that have a definite Levitical feel. Big yawn.

Last night I started in on chapters 37 & 38 of the book of Exodus, and I wasn't instantly enthralled. At first look they tell the all too detailed description of the making of the Ark of the Covenant, as well as the Table, the Lampstand, the Altar for Incense, the Altar for Burnt Offerings and the Bronze Bowl. They even tell about the curtains for the courtyard of the Holy Tent being made. It tells in great detail of the work that a man by the name of Bezalel did. All those items I just listed? They were made by the hands of Bezalel.

The instructions were very finite. The ark was measured in very specific inches. And as I was reading I thought about how careful he had to be in his work. I have built my fair share of furniture via IKEA. We have a huge entertainment center in our living room that Neal and I built together. It probably had three or four dozen pieces, and it was painstaking to match things up and get everything put together, and we had instructions with pictures! It was a lot of work, and all we were doing was basically putting a puzzle together. It occurred to me how much more complicated it must have been to form these things out of raw materials. And the importance of them far outweighed the value of a place to put our television set.

As I read, I could picture in my mind this man, Bezalel, and the extreme care he must have taken to create these things. I could picture him running his hand down the edge of the frame of the ark making it smooth, and building the lid to match up and seal perfectly. He had to make it not only perfectly functional, but also beautiful. Over and over again it read, "Bezalel made," "Bezalel attached," "Bezalel put," "Bezalel hammered..." Each piece, careful and detailed.

I thought to myself about how I get when I am working. Tonight I was making a button for my blog and it took a lot of focus for me. My daughter came up to me to ask me a question and I snapped at her because I was struggling to get something "just so." And the truth is, it was just my own perfectionism in a work that was far from critical.

As I read about Bezalel, I felt certain that was not the atmosphere in his workshop. I could picture in my mind the peace of God as he focused and worked. Each piece was different, making gold rings, shaping winged creatures from Gold. To go along with the Ark he had to shape acacia poles for carrying it, and they were covered in gold. I thought about what that process must have been like. He had to have melted the gold down that the Israelites brought him, liquifying it making it useful to cover the Ark and the poles and such. The lampstand too had to be formed for it was "made of pure gold," the Bible says. I could picture him "hammering out its base and stand." The art of it, it said he even shaped part of it to look like "almond flowers." It was a piece made for specific purpose and it was made to be beautiful.

I was struck by the vast number of details and the great effort it all must have required. All of this work, all done by Bezalel. He even "made a wall of curtains to form a courtyard around the Holy Tent" Then it sums things up in Exodus 38:22 where it says, "Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD had commanded Moses." Then almost as an afterthought vs 23 says, "Oholiab son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan helped him. He could cut designs into metal and stone; he was a designer and also skilled at sewing the blue, purple, and red thread, and fine linen." He helped with the finishing touches, but this labor, was Bezalel's labor, and I supsect it was a labor of love.

I wish I could express to you the sense I had as I read. Such profound and important work, and it fell all to a single man. Later in the passage it talks about where all the metals used in this process were taken from. It talks about how all the Israelites donated and paid for the supplies, it says there were 603,550 men over 20, and all I could think was, "yet only Bezalel was chosen for this job." Can you picture the weight of the responsibility on this man? Can you imagine how time consuming it must have been?

In my mind I would think, "Delegate!" There were over half a million men to choose from, surely the work could have been done much more quickly if only they would spread thew work around! But it was NOT to be so. For some reason, this profoundly important duty was meant for a single man. I had to search him out, I wanted to know more about him. So I did a search on biblegateway, but there wasn't a whole lot more to be found. But in chapter 35 of Exodus, it did say this: "The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God and has given him the skill, ability, and knowledge to do all kinds of work."

Surely I was right! Bezalel's workshop must have been an incredible place to be. It was as a house of worship, I am sure. Bezalel surely was intentional and purposed as he worked to create all that the Lord commanded. What a privilege it must have been to take the gifts and talents he had been given by God and use them for God. Bezalel had surely felt his purpose in life, and perhaps in more than any other season, in those days, he must have felt he was truly living it out. He was living the life he was created for, a life with intention and purpose.

To be continued...

1 comment:

Barb Winters said...

I just have to say that I am very impressed that you created a button AND wrote a blog post that quickly. (I know this has nothing to do with your post.)