PREPARATION TO BUILD—THE PROVISION OF LABOURERS.
Scripture: Exodus 31:1-11, Exodus 35:30-36:4
The work of God requires more than offerings of construction materials. In order to raise a witness to Christ as the means of reaching common ground and fellowship with God work is required. Those who give with the proper spirit will also be ready to labour.
It pleased God in the fulfilling of His purpose to meet with Israel to use human labourers in the work of constructing the tabernacle. The provision and presentation of a place of common ground between God and men always requires commitment on the part of the people of God — in the form of sacrificial giving and labour. God called Moses to head up this work and devolved much of the duty and responsibility to Bezaleel. Yet there was a wider workforce than this. Each aspect of the work, each facet of the calling of God has its own significance and importance. Cp Paul’s illustration of the body, 1 Corinthians 12:14-21.
It was part of Moses’ ongoing work as the leader God had called, to be involved in this work as well. His involvement in the erection of the tabernacle as a place of communion with God and a revelation of Christ’s mediatorial work was:—
a) To act as messenger from God to the people. He carried to them the revelation God had given of the pattern of the tabernacle, Exodus 25:9, 40, Exodus 26:30, Exodus 27:8, Exodus 35:1. Here is a vital area in the work. Cp Acts 6:1-4.
b) To set up the Tabernacle when it was built. In this work Moses is to the fore, acting as priest sanctifying and anointing the tabernacle, offering the first sacrifices and incense. Cp Exodus 40:2, 33.
2. Bezaleel, Exodus 31:1-5.
God specifically called Bezaleel to head up the work of construction of the Tabernacle. God did not use Moses in this work! He is called to a position of leadership and responsibility in this work. It is very important to note that although prominent and at the forefront of the work he was not labouring in his own name. His work is looked on as the work of all involved, Exodus 39:2-4, 8-9, 32, 42. The character of the one God uses in a prominent way in His work is seen here.
a) He has the definite call of God. It is by name, 31:2, a personal and unmistakable call. God calls attention to his name — Bezaleel = ‘in the shadow of [the mighty] God’; Uri > ‘light’; Hur = ‘one of free/noble birth’. Here is a wonderful illustration of the Christian servant: born from above, a child of light, and labouring in the shadow of God’s presence (Psalm 91:1). Bezaleel’s call was visible both to Moses and the people, Exodus 31:2, Exodus 35:30. There are certain duties in God’s work that require a specific personal call from God, especially in the area of spiritual leadership.
b) he is annointed with the Holy Spirit, Exodus 31:3. This annointing gives him the required wisdom, understanding and knowledge to WORK — (i) in the construction, Exodus 31:3, Exodus 35:35; (ii) as a teacher, Exodus 35:34. Such equipping for the work of God is only by the filling of the Holy Ghost. The provision/presentation of common ground between God and man is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the work of God to make His servant a channel of Holy Ghost power, Exodus 31:3, Exodus 35:34, Exodus 36:2. To be instrumental in bringing men to meet God , and to present Christ to them we must have the Spirit of God. Being filled with the Holy Ghost he was enabled by God to raise a rich and splendid witness to Christ in a most unlikely place, among a most unlikely people. No environment is too difficult to raise a glorious testimony to Christ — so long as the Spirit of God is at work! Cp John 15:26.
3. Aholiab, Exodus 31:6.
God graciously called a helper to Bezaleel. He was a gift from God! His name = ‘my father’s tent’; Ahisamach = ‘brother of support’, one on whom Bezaleel could depend! He acts as a support — a vital role where failure has disastrous consequences. His name never appears alone but always in conjunction with Bezaleel right to the end of the work, Exodus 38:23. There are times when we must be willing to play a supporting role! The Lord calls us to do His work in that capacity. A New Testament example is seen in Romans 16:3-4.
4. Many other volunteers, Exodus 31:6, Exodus 36:1-2, 4.
The labours of constructing the Tabernacle were great. God called several individuals to head the work but they were not the only ones necessary. There were many unnamed volunteers who willingly gave themselves to serve God. These too were called by God and prepared by Him for the work, Exodus 36:1-2. Their primary qualification was Divine wisdom, Exodus36:1, 2, 4, 8. The people of God are to serve Him in whatever way He leads and equips them for. See Romans 12:4-8, 1 Peter 4:10. God may call us to labour in obscurity. Our name may never be recorded in the history of the church — yet there would have been no Tabernacle without the labours of these godly men and women. No witness to the saving work of Christ can be raised and maintained without the ongoing labours of the people of God, labouring in anonymity.
There are many duties that are the subject of a general call — the duty of all believers — to give, pray, attend, support the work of God in whatever way possible. Are you labouring for God to see to it that sinners may have access to God and His pardoning grace; to set out before men the saving ministry of Christ as those who laboured on the Tabernacle did?
5. They laboured in agreement with the Word of God, Exodus 31:6, 11, Exodus 36:1.
Cp also Exodus 39:1, 5, 7, 21, 26, 29, 31, 32, 42, 43. The striking thing is that they accepted and obeyed the word that Moses communicated to them as the words of God. It was a reported word that they obeyed. We are called to obey the word of God as it has been reported to us by the holy men of God of former time (II Peter 1:21). This is how those filled with the Holy Spirit work — at every level of the work of God. The Spirit of God always only works within the parameters of the word of God, Genesis 1:2-3. Those desiring to obey God and raise a witness to Christ will be content to labour within the guidelines of Scripture.
6. They finished the work, Exodus 38:22, Exodus 39:32, Exodus 40:33.
a) They persisted in the callings that God had given them to the end. Content to labour in the context that God had placed each one in! The work could not have been finished otherwise. God looks for faithfulness and consistency on the part of His people. Any other kind of labourer is useless and a positive hindrance. Cp Romans 12:11. Such a labourer follows in the example of Christ, John 17:4.
b) God’s supply of grace (wisdom, knowledge and Spirit power) was sufficient to see the work through to a conclusion. The revelation of His will and plan was also sufficiently clear so as to guide them to a conclusion. They were not left high and dry labouring in a project that could never be finished because the plan was incomplete. These labourers did not run out of Divine resources before the task was over — my grace is sufficient for thee, 2 Corinthians 12:9.
7. They laboured in such a fashion as to obtain approval.
a) from Moses, Exodus 39:43. He had a duty to examine and pronounce a blessing on that which conformed to the revelation that God had given. Cp Philippians 4:14—such expressions of approval are appropriate.
b) from God,Exodus 40:34. Work that is in agreement with the Word and prosecuted to the end will receive the well done of God, Matthew 25:21, 23. His approval is indicated by His presence. Are you labouring in such a way as to be approved of God?