Please excuse our mess, we are remodeling. Not that there is sawdust or drywall dust floating in the air and coating every surface around you at the moment. On the other six days of the week many Christians serve the Lord Christ doing that kind of work with their hands and do it filled with the Spirit. But it is a mess in here because you together are a house under construction and this very moment we are doing renovations using the word of God. As a believer in Jesus, you are not part of just any old house but part of God’s new dwelling. At one time He designed a beautiful tent called the “tabernacle” for that purpose, later the temple in Jerusalem, but now in these last days all of God’s people are the blocks of a new home for God. You are part of a structure that will last forever. And you have an opportunity to participate in that Spirit-filled construction work. All of you have a part in raising the funds necessary for this building campaign. I know that your heart moves you to give more than you think you can afford because you have a generous heart. For I am confident that if you have staked everything on the Lord Jesus Christ then you willingly give much to His church. After all, we will hear in these verses that the people of Israel gave so many contributions for the building of the tabernacle that they had to be told to stop giving because there was more than enough to do it. And surely we can outdo them now. But for those who are willing to really get their hands dirty helping people there are openings for everyone whose heart stirs you to come do the work. In our passage Bezalel and Oholiab are great models for the qualifications we seek to fill many of these opportunities—not that everyone can be Bezalel nor can everyone be Oholiab—but as I said, there are openings for everyone whose heart stirs you to come do the work. So if you desire in your heart to help, there is an opening for you. But before I get too far ahead of myself, lets look at what the word of God has to say about Bezalel, Oholiab and the other craftsmen who willingly put their minds and abilities to work on the tabernacle.
Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other craftsmen who willingly put their minds and abilities to work on the tabernacle were gifted for their tasks and they were models for those who would build later homes for God.
God gave to each one the gifts needed for their particular roles so that they could build Him a tabernacle. Bezalel was called by God to lead this project, Oholiab was appointed by God to assist him, and several craftsmen worked under their teaching and direction. Thus Bezalel was filled with the Spirit, Bezalel and Oholiab were both inspired to teach and gifted to do engraving, designing, embroidering and weaving, and the other craftsmen were given the skill and intelligence to know how to do their work. So no matter what their role in the building of the tabernacle, God gave to each one the gifts that they needed to accomplish their part of the work. But as important as it was that God gave them the skill and intelligence to know how to do it was that they were willing to do the work – they desired in their heart to help, their heart was stirred up to do it (36:2) – just as everyone else wanted to contribute the precious materials necessary for building it. (These were the ideal craftsmen for the tabernacle, thus it is not a surprise that…)
Scripture itself understands Bezalel and Oholiab are models for the builders of later homes for God. Thus when talking about the construction of the temple the book of Chronicles describes King Solomon as a new Bezalel and Huram-abi as a new Oholiab. Since Jesus is greater than Solomon, we might then expect that Jesus is the new and greater Bezalel and His apostles, perhaps the apostle Paul in particular, are the new Oholiab. Jesus is the chief architect and overseer of God’s new home and the apostles were His foremen. He will present us to Himself as a sight to behold as if bedazzled with precious stones set in gold. I have no doubt that we are meant to understand Bezalel as a type of Jesus and Oholiab as a type of Peter and Paul. And I would be tempted to stop there, but the apostle Paul doesn’t let us. He alludes to this story in 1 Cor 3 by calling himself a skilled master builder, terminology only used in the Old Testament concerning Bezalel. Thus he saw himself as a new Bezalel, and in the 1 Cor 3 it was Apollos who was a new Oholiab. Like a skilled master builder Paul laid a foundation, which is Jesus Christ, and Apollos built upon it. (And in keeping with what Paul says in 1 Cor 3, we today can lay no other foundation and we need to build with the right materials lest what we build be consumed by fire on the day of the Lord. Thankfully, Jesus is a good overseer and continues to give us skilled master builders, their assistants, and many other craftsmen.)
Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other craftsmen who willingly put their minds and abilities to work on the tabernacle are models for the church since we each have been gifted for our part in building the new house of God.
God calls pastors to be an architect like Bezalel, and every Bezalel needs an Oholiab, and how much they are able to build depends on them being surrounded by craftsmen willing and eager to do the work. I’m here as your pastor because God has called me and my heart has been stirred up to come to do the work. And like Bezalel, I’ve been filled with the Spirit, given skill and intelligence, and I’ve been inspired to teach. It is the pastor who is called to be the skilled master builder for a congregation. I’ve heard Bruce Gamaché who recently retired from St. Peter’s Lutheran say that every Paul needs a Timothy. Jonathan Haseley has been an excellent Timothy at St. Peter’s. Another way to put it would be to say that every Bezalel needs an Oholiab. An Oholiab is someone who also is inspired by God to teach and who also is filled with skill to do many different sorts of work. You might say that they are the general contractors and for such a big project general contractors need subcontractors with workers. What they will be able to accomplish depends on being surrounded by craftsmen willing and eager to do the work for which God has given them the skill to do it.
You have an opportunity to be a part of constructing the most magnificent and beautiful building, which will stand forever.
First, we have to agree about what we are helping to build – we are building a glorious home for God. This means our construction efforts need to follow all of God’s building codes. Imagine with me the new Jerusalem as the apostle John describes it as pure gold, like clear glass, with the foundations of the wall bedazzling with twelve kinds of jewels including jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, carnelian, topaz, and amethyst. But it is not really a building of brick and stone – we are building a living temple – a temple of people who trust in Jesus who will reflect the beauty and glory of our God.
Second, we need to support and encourage the architect designing our part in this grand project. You might know how to make cement, but if you are just making it off by yourself and letting it dry then it will not contribute much to the larger building. We need to work together. And,
Third, we need to discover our where our gifts fit in the work. Your heart might be stirring right now to help as a craftsman though you may not feel like you know what to do. God will give you the skill and intelligence to do it. In fact, unlike back in Exodus, it is not only the Bezalel who can be filled with the Spirit. Jesus has poured out His Spirit on His church so that everyone who trusts in Him has the Spirit and therefore everyone who trusts in Him can be filled with the Spirit. So not only will God give you the skill and intelligence to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your friends, family, neighbors and others, but He will speak through you when you are filled with the Spirit. Some of you might be thinking that you don’t have the time to put into good craftsmanship because of the demands of your job or family but you can contribute extra financially. Or you might think that you do not have much money to contribute to this spectacular structure but you can help more in other ways like bringing food and water to the workers or picking up supplies or by encouraging the craftsmen. Spirit-filled construction work not only is messy remodeling but it serves to build up one another. Let me encourage you then during the offertory to make a commitment to help, whether it is by giving extra, using your skills, sharing a cup of water, or however else you can see yourself participating in what Jesus is doing as He oversees the construction of the most magnificent and beautiful building, which will stand forever. Thanks be to God. Amen.