Today’s Reading: Exodus 35-37
Exodus 25-40 is all about the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the items used in the service of the tabernacle. A couple of days ago, I wrote about the two natures of Jesus, he is fully God and fully man, and how the tabernacle and the priestly garments reveal those two natures to us. In today’s reading, we are told about the construction of the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the items used in the service of the tabernacle.
There were two individuals primarily responsible for the construction of the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the items used in the service of the tabernacle. They were Bezalel and Oholiab. Under them was every craftsman who would work in the construction. So, the builders of all these things were Bezalel, Oholiab, and every craftsman.
I want to quote portions of Exodus 35:30-36:2 so we can see who these individuals were and their calling.
“Then Moses said to the people of Israel, ‘See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftmanship…And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work…Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord commanded.’ And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.”
Let’s start with Bezalel. His name is derived from several Hebrew names that, when combined, mean in the shadow, or protection, of God. Bezalel was the son of Uri. Uri means firelight, fire; to dawn or become light; to shine, illuminate, or ignite. Uri was the son of Hur. There is no clear meaning of the name Hur, but some of the possibilities are to be or become free; to be or grow white; hot, charred, burned; to burn or ignite.
It’s interesting that each of the names of these men has a reference to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is pictured as a cloud, which puts us in the shadow, or protection, of God. The Holy Spirit is pictured as fire. He causes people to shine or be ignited with the light of God. The Holy Spirit makes one free and causes one to be white or righteous.
To get a sense of who Bezalel was, we can combine these names into a sentence. As I meditated on this, I started with Hur, then Uri, then Bezalel. Bezalel is the one who became free to shine in the shadow of God. Bezalel burned with fire in the shadow of God.
Bezalel was from the tribe of Judah. The sentence spoken over Judah when he was born was, “I will praise the Lord.”
Bezalel was one of only a very few people in the Old Testament that were said to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He was filled with skill, intelligence, knowledge, and craftmanship. The word skill is better thought of as wisdom. The Hebrew root word means to be or become wise and to act wisely. The word craftsmanship comes from a root word meaning to send. All of these things that describe Bezalel are used to describe the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible.
As we saw a few days ago, the tabernacle was a picture of Jesus as fully God. And, it was the Holy Spirit that connected Jesus to the Father. Therefore, I believe that Bezalel is a picture of the Holy Spirit working to “build” the nature of Jesus as fully God to praise the Lord.
Now, let’s look at Oholiab. His name comes from two Hebrew words that, when combined, mean the tent of his father or people living in a tent of his father. Oholiab was the son of Ahisamach. Ahisamach means brother of support.
Like Bezalel, I think when we combine the meanings of the names of Ahisamach and Oholiab into a sentence we get an idea of who Oholiab was. As I mediated on this, I believe that Oholiab is the brother of support who made the tent of his father. Or, Oholiab is the brother of support who made the people living in a tent of his father.
Oholiab was of the tribe of Dan. The sentence spoken over Dan when he was born was, “God has judge me and heard my voice.”
Oholiab was described in a similar way as Bezalel, but the Bible does not directly say that he was filled with the Spirit of God. However, when we see the meaning of his name and his lineage, Oholiab seems to be a picture of the work of the Holy Spirit too.
But, Oholiab’s work is a little different than Bezalel’s. As we saw a couple of days ago, the priestly garments were a picture of Jesus’ nature as fully man. Therefore, I believe that Oholiab is a picture of the Holy Spirit working to “build” the nature of Jesus as fully man, and further all believers who come to live in the tent of Jesus, who was able to say that God has judged me and heard my voice.
INSPIRED TO TEACH
Both Bezalel and Oholiab were inspired to teach every other craftsman in the construction of the tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the other items used in the service of the tabernacle. This is exactly why the Holy Spirit was sent to us. Jesus told us this in John 15:26-16:15. Paul writes about this frequently, especially in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. In each of these chapters Paul is writing about the Holy Spirit giving gifts, or skills, which are to be used for the building of the church, the body of Jesus.
Bezalel and Oholiab were to teach every craftsman how to do the work of building. The word craftsman comes from three Hebrew words. When put together, the three words mean a man who has become wise in his heart. It is in this man that the Lord has put skill and intelligence in how to build. God does this through the Holy Spirit as Paul writes about many times. Moses writes that the Lord puts skill, or wisdom, in the mind of every craftsman. And, the craftsmen that do the work are those whose hearts have been stirred to do so.
While I believe that Bezalel and Oholiab are a picture of the Holy Spirit working in Jesus his two natures as “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” I believe that every craftsman is a picture of all the men and women whom God has gifted to “build” the body, the church, of Jesus now that he has ascended to heaven. The Holy Spirit gives to each believer skill, wisdom, and gifts as he chooses for the building up of us together as the temple of the Lord.
So, in Exodus 35-37 we see a beautiful picture of Jesus, the man, built by the Holy Spirit. Further, we see a picture of each us taught and gifted by the Holy Spirit to build the body of Jesus that each of us is a member of so that the life of Jesus can be continually be expressed everywhere in the earth.