Skills Forged in Hardships, But Used By God’s Holiness

In Exodus 31, the Bible introduces us to two impressive, skillful, and talented men–Bezaleel and Aholiab. Trained to be craftsmen while in the oppressive bondage of Egypt, when God freed them with the rest of Israel, he revealed where all their skill really came from and laid out the higher purpose for why their talents were developed. Here’s what the Lord said about them:

1And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:

And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,

And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.

And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee…

It was Jehovah himself who gifted these men to be the excellent craftsmen that they were. Having honed their skills under a tyrannical government in a society that hated them, God was now graduating them to make every single item to be used in the tabernacle to worship and glorify him. Not only were they gifted with intelligence and in manual labor, they were also gifted to teach others who came alongside them to help make the Lord’s tabernacle, including everything from the priestly garments to the anointing oil to the altars, pillars, and curtains.

Incidentally, both men lived up to their God-given names. Bezaleel means “in the shadow or under the protection of God.” Aholiab means “[my] father’s tent (tabernacle).” How befitting that their names are symbolically reflected in the purpose and existence of the tabernacle itself. The story of Bezaleel and Aholiab, who are mentioned in Exodus 31 and 35-38, can teach us several facets about Jehovah gifting the children in his spiritual household, including the following points:

♦ God often gifts, trains, and prepares his people without a hint of the greater purpose he intends for them down the road. Until an event brings it to light, God may keep it a secret even from his chosen person.

♦ All good gifts are from God. Jehovah not only gifts his children with skills of intellect, of oratorical skills, of holiness, of spiritual understanding, but with skills of every kind, from the highest to the lowest. Godly gifts of handicraft, music, painting, clothing, sculpture, architecture, engineering, business acumen, etc. exhibited by believers all have their origins in the Lord himself.

♦ Jehovah reserves the right through his Holy Spirit to expand and enlarge natural gifts beyond the scope of man’s assumptions. God’s grace aids what comes naturally when he has a greater work planned. The spiritual regeneration he awakens in his saints can be accompanied by seemingly supernatural improvements in the powers of their knowledge.

♦ Godly religion sanctifies one’s labors. There is dignity and Divine purpose in our labors, including manual labors, when we commit all our labors to the glory of God.

♦ The supreme use of our natural skills and talents is to dedicate them for service to God’s church for God’s glory. When this is our focus, there is a lot more teamwork where everyone appreciates the skills they have without jealousy and envy towards other saints who have different skills. Bezaleel, Aholiab, and the people on their work detail knew that Israel would see magnificent things unfold from the Lord through the tabernacle they were crafting together. They also knew how important their work would be for confronting their own sins and the sins of the whole congregation to enhance their relationship with the Lord.

In the end, Bezaleel and Aholiab saw how the God-given skills they may have taken for granted were used by Jehovah, who was able to do exceeding abundantly above all that they could ask or think, according to the power that worked within them. If he did that for his people under the Old Testament, should we not expect him to do greater things with us who are under the new, better covenant?

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