18 March, 2017

Bezalel, a talented dude

In my current journey through the Bible I'm buried deep in the instructions given to the Israelites about outfitting their rag-tag crew in the desert with a tabernacle (place to worship God) and a priesthood.

In the midst of a lot of repetition and incredible detail a name popped out to me the other day: Bezalel. 

I've never met someone called that. It's one of those Biblical names that parents have skirted around as they name their kids these days.

However this guy was one talented dude.

He was chosen by God, the Lord told Moses so (Exodus 31:2). He was also filled by the Spirit, not to be a leader or a priest or a prophet or counsellor, but an artisan. 

Here's a list of things he was enabled to do:

  • work with gold, silver, and bronze
  • cut and set stones
  • work in wood
  • engage in all kinds of crafts
Good thing, because then God lists off a large number of things that needed to be made, including lamps, alters, garments, oil, and incense. 

The list ends with "They are to be made just as I commanded you." No pressure!

Later in Chapter 36, Bezalel is joined by 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" (vs. 1 NIV).

Oholiab was pretty skilled too, he is listed as being an engraver and designer, and an embroiderer.

"They" is the pronoun used for a lot of the work, but at the start of chapter 37, Bezalel is described as making the ark, with its covering of pure gold (imagine doing that!), poles which were also encased in gold, then the cherubim were hammered gold. It seems that this was his personal responsibility, because then it goes back to "they."

I would describe myself as a wannabe when it comes to being crafty. I enjoy crafts, but spend more time thinking about doing them than actually doing them (except when it comes to cross-stitch, which I've actually done a lot of). I'm actually better creating by using someone else's "recipe", like with cooking. Actually cross-stitch is pretty much like that. Not much creativity needed, just a lot of time.

I work with designers with the magazine and would love to do design myself, except that I lack the technical skill at this point (they work with fancy software). I also secretly suspect I lack the innate creativity that I would need to do it anyway. But my eye for good design has developed in the six and a half years I've been working on the magazine. 

So I really respect what they do, I give them about 20 basic word documents (that have been carefully crafted and checked) and they turn them into a wonderful, creative feast for the eyes.

I'm delighted to be reminded that God delights in creativity and the skill of an artisan too. Oftentimes we lift up some skills to be higher than others: leadership, preaching, evangelism, and people-skills for example. But I don't think that God looks at us in quite the same way, with some more valuable than others.

He is the ultimate designer (this world...out of nothing!) and values those with creativity too. Actually, he gifted those people with creativity. Without these creative souls in our world our lives would be very dull indeed. Imagine if everything was ugly? If no one had the ability to create something as delightful as a diamond ring or even a piece of clothing that does more than just cover the body. If we had no such thing as music or even the functional design of an escalator!

So two verses:
"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelations 4:11 NIV).
Let's rejoice in those who are gifted with creativity, for this gifting is in the image of God who created them.

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