20 December 2011

A Survey of the Old testament Law--The Calling of Bezalel and Aholiab

Last time we met we looked at Exodus 30. We saw the ransom money—the half-shekel (according to the shekel of the sanctuary). Each Israelite from 20 years old and older was to give the ransom money to atone for their souls. This ransom could be paid in gold or silver, or bronze. And it was a weight which would have been equivalent in weight to about 160 coffee beans. We saw the incense that was to be used for burning on the Altar of Incense before the veil in the tabernacle—and that was the ONLY thing to be burned on that particular altar. And we saw how they were to mix the oil for anointing. And how if anyone tried to copy the recipe for the incense or the oil that they would be “cut off from their people”—a phrase that God used many times as a way of saying “Do that and I will personally kill you Myself!” And we saw that the gifts that the Magi brought to the infant Christ—gold, frankincense and myrrh—these  may very well have been given for the maintenance and preparation of His earthly “tabernacle” (as many of the NT writers call our bodies a tabernacle). Today we move on to Exodus 31:1-11. And for this section we are actually going to skip to Exodus 35:4, because it is there that we read these same words almost verbatim, but with fuller elaborations.

But before we get to that, I want us to consider the verses from the Psalms that were part of our discussion last time. If you recall (and I don’t expect you to), when we linked Christ with the anointing oil, I read from Psalm 45:6-86 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. 7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions. 8 All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia (three of the main ingredients in the anointing oil). And I didn’t have time last time, so this morning I would like to share with you this quote from Charles Spurgeon:
“The excellencies of Jesus are all most precious, comparable to the rarest spices; they are most varied, and to be likened not to myrrh alone, but to all the perfumes blended in due proportion. The Father always finds a pleasure in him, in him he is well pleased; and all regenerated spirits rejoice in him, for he is made of God unto us, ‘wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.’ Note that not only is Jesus most sweet, but even his garments are so; everything that he has to do with is perfumed by his person. ‘All’ his garments are thus fragrant; not some of them, but all; we delight as much in his purple of dominion as in the white linen of his priesthood, his mantle as our prophet is as dear to us as his seamless coat as our friend. All his dress is fragrant with all sweetness. To attempt to spiritualise each spice here mentioned would be unprofitable, the evident sense is that all sweetnesses meet in Jesus, and are poured forth wherever he is present.” 
What He looked like when He walked the earth is NOTHING like the way He appears now, in the Heavens, enthroned in glory, with all of creation awaiting the Day He returns.

Well, speaking of the tabernacle—we’ve gotten the dimensions for it; we have received the commands of how to prepare the furnishings that would go inside it; we’ve been instructed on who would minister in the tabernacle and how they were to be prepared for their service—now the only thing left to do is what? We know WHAT to do and HOW to do it. Now we have to actually BUILD the tabernacle and FASHION all the furnishings and utensils. You need to make the STUFF. And even before that, don’t you think you need the STUFF you need to make the STUFF? “We need to make all this stuff! But we don’t have the stuff to make the stuff we need to make!” Or did they? Hmmm.

Flip back to Exodus 12. Listen to what happened on the night of their flight from Egypt. The Angel of YHVH has passed through Egypt, killing all the firstborn. And listen to what happened in Exodus 12:34-3634 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. 35 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. And because they plundered the Egyptians, they had all kinds of silver and gold and precious stones and so on and so forth. And now, all it is doing is weighing down their camels and their oxen and their donkeys. After all, what good is all that stuff going to do them out in the middle of the desert? Well, I'm glad you asked! Turn to Exodus 35:4-94 And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying: 5 'Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats' hair; 7 ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; 8 oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; 9 onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.” What good are all those things they took from the Egyptians doing them out in the desert? Well, now you know!

Now, let me ask you this—which of the following statements do you think is closer to the order in which these things actually happened: (A) The people scrounged what they could from what the Egyptians randomly gave to them, and God said, “Well, let’s just use what we’ve got.” Or, (B), God told the Egyptians to give the Israelites what He wanted them to have to build those things He would require? Exactly, (B) is the correct answer. Exodus 12:36And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Aha! God working in the hearts and minds of these Egyptians to give them what they requested. And what things did they request? Probably things like gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, dyes, oil, spices, onyx stones, and maybe all the kinds of stones that were to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. Just a guess. The point I want to make is this: God is a planner. He does not do anything by the seat of His pants—pardon the expression, since He doesn't wear pants, seeing as He does not have a body of flesh and blood. Do you think He knew what He wanted to go into the building of the tabernacle and the clothing of the priests and for all the things that went along with worshipping Him? So do you think He would leave anything to “chance”? He did not sit on His throne saying to Himself, “Gee, I hope they can find all the things I want to go into all this! If they don’t I'm going to have to change My plans!” HE causes all things to work together.

And He had the people gather all those things they got from the Egyptians (and using some of the resources in the area they were camped). And not only did they need the things—they needed to make tools to make these things. But even before all that—they needed people to make all these things. So, Exodus 35:10-19“‘10 All who are gifted artisans among you shall come and make all that the LORD has commanded: 11 the tabernacle, its tent, its covering, its clasps, its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets; 12 the ark and its poles, with the mercy seat, and the veil of the covering; 13 the table and its poles, all its utensils, and the showbread; 14 also the lampstand for the light, its utensils, its lamps, and the oil for the light; 15 the incense altar, its poles, the anointing oil, the sweet incense, and the screen for the door at the entrance of the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, all its utensils, and the laver and its base; 17 the hangings of the court, its pillars, their sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; 18 the pegs of the tabernacle, the pegs of the court, and their cords; 19 the garments of ministry, for ministering in the holy place—the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests.’” Did we leave anything out?

Now, the artisans that God calls out in verse 10. Where had they been for the last 400 or so years? Egypt. What had they been doing for those 400 or so years? They had been learning trades. They had become metal smiths, sawyers, engravers, tapestry makers, perfumers, architects, weavers, wood carvers, stone cutters, tanners. All those skills they learned in those 400 some-odd years in Egypt—guess what? God is going to use all of it for His glory. Can you believe that! God using trials and afflictions for His glory! But isn't that how God often does it? Not always, but so many times, He takes what men mean for evil and He turns it around and the outcome brings glory to His name. Remember what Joseph told his brothers when he revealed himself to them in Egypt? Genesis 50:20But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day.” Another example, He took one of the greatest teachers of the OT Law ever, a man who was so zealous for the Law that He often received extradition papers to bring Christians to Jerusalem to be killed—God took that man named Saul of Tarsus and used his knowledge of the OT Law to show from that Law just how that Law was nothing more than a slave that was meant to take us to Christ. And in perhaps the most well-known example, He allowed a sham of a trial to take place; He allowed an innocent man to be tortured and His body destroyed on one of the most inhuman (not just inhumane, but inhuman) instruments of death ever created by depraved human minds—in order to bring many sons to glory, did He not? And He takes our miserable excuse for a life, which is filled with wickedness and depravity, and He reaches down, saves us, takes out our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh.

Likewise, God was now going to take those skills that the Israelites learned during their 400 years of slavery to a pagan king in order to build a tent where He would be worshipped. Now, before we can even make the stuff to make the stuff, the people that are going to make the stuff will need someone to supervise the project. Think about it. It wasn’t like Moses could take these instructions to Denark-Smith or Creative Structures and say “Hey guys, I got these instructions on how to build this humongoid tent, can you make some blueprints and get them back to me by the end of the month?” They couldn’t get on the internet and go to Cabelas.com; they couldn’t just stroll through the aisles in Dick’s Sporting Goods or Bass Pro Shop to find something that could hold everybody and everything. They had to take these very specific, very detailed instructions—which were written out, in words, by the way. They had to take these directions and convert them into a three-dimensional working model of EVERY THING INVOLVED. Somebody had to take on this enormous task.

so what did Moses do? Did he go around the camp until somebody stepped up and said, “Hey, I got some ideas!” Did he say to himself, “You know, I think my cousin Shimon might be able to cook something up!” No. Remember, who was ultimately in charge of every detail surrounding this project? God! It was His house, and He would be the one to determine who would supervise the building of His house. This was not a task that just any person could take upon themselves. And it is for that reason that we see God say what He says in Exodus 35:30-3530 And Moses said to the children of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, 32 to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship. 34 And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver—those who do every work and those who design artistic works.” 

What do we know about Bezalel and Aholiab? What we read here is all we know about these guys. We find these guys talked about in less that 10 verses in the entire Bible—and 6 of those verses are in this section of Exodus. But what is important that we learn about them from this passage? In verse 30? “The LORD has called by name Bezalel.” The same with Aholiab in verse 34. God calls these men by name to do this mighty work. That is what God does. I think this whole chapter shows the sovereignty of God. From the calling of these men to even hearkening back to the stuff that the Egyptians gave the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt—God is sovereign over everything. Now, question: how did Bezalel and Aholiab get the job of overseeing the construction of the tabernacle everything in it? Did someone tack a sheet of paper to a bulletin board for people to sign up? Did they put an ad in the Sinai Gazette, “Wanted: foreman for large construction project. Send resume to  Moses@burningbush.com”? This was a work of God, and as such He called men who would devote their lives to this project, and who would not allow their egos to get in the way and think they could improve on what God ordered. God Himself chose these men. The same principle applies to the church. When there is work to be done, God does not necessarily call those people that we humans with our feeble, depraved, human thinking would call. He does not call the best-looking—I am Exhibit A of that. He does not necessarily call the most intelligent—I am also Exhibit B. He does not always call the most self-confident or the most well-spoken or even the smoothest speaking voice—Exhibit C, D and E. But He calls those who will make themselves available to Him.

Think about young Samuel. About 12 years old, living with Eli the high priest, hears a voice call out to him twice. The third time he says “Here am I, LORD.” Another example from a man who was in an infinitely different situation—Isaiah. There he was in the throne room of God, the Lord was seated on His throne, the angels were shouting “Holy, holy, holy.” Shouting so loud they about rocked the doors off the place. He realizes he is s sinful man who lives among sinful people. And Almighty YHVH asks him, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" And what is Isaiah’s answer? "Here am I! Send me."

There are four words that will change your life more than any other words you could ever utter: “Here am I, Lord.” Those words changed the lives of Isaiah, Samuel, Abraham. And even Bezalel and Aholiab. God called, and they said, “Here am I, LORD.” Fast forward about 1500 years. We see God calling 12 other men to work for Him. He’s walking by some fishing boats, sees some fellows casting out their nets and He says “Drop your nets and follow Me.” And they said, “Here am I, Lord.” Now, God doesn’t always talk in an audible voice—I dare say He does NOT speak in an audible voice anymore. And if you ever hear anyone say that “God told me…” or “God spoke to me last night…” then I would be real suspect of what they were “told” or what was “spoken to them.” God has spoken all He needs to speak, and we have it here in our Bibles. All He requires of us is to read His word and say “Here am I, Lord.”

Exodus 36:1-7“1 And Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the LORD has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the LORD has commanded.” 2 Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work. 3 And they received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of making the sanctuary. So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. 4 Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, 5 and they spoke to Moses, saying, "The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do." 6 So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, "Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary." And the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done—indeed too much. Now, that’s interesting. What is the command? “Stop giving!!” God does not need every penny we have—in fact, He doesn’t need anything (Acts 17:25). But also, He doesn’t want us to give Him every last penny we have until we have nothing left to feed our family. He knows how much is needed for the work. When that amount was given, He said, "That’s enough."

Several weeks ago we read the account in Luke of the widow who put her last two copper coins into the treasury and how Jesus rebuked that system that would take a widow’s last dime and send her home to starve to death while they built their beautiful building. Now, don’t get me wrong—I'm not saying “Don’t give.” Don’t go telling people "Well, this one guy on the internet said we don't have to give." Should we give to the church and the work of the church? Absolutely. Galatians 6:7-107 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Should we—first of all—give to support our parents when they get older? Absolutely. 1st Timothy 5:8--But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. “Honor thy father and mother.” Should we give to help feed and clothe the poor? Absolutely. That is, those who are TRULY poor; not those who are poor because they drank and smoked and snorted away their food and rent and light bill.

But we are not to give so much that giving becomes a burden to our family. 2nd Corinthians 8:12-1412 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. He says in the next chapter, 2nd Corinthians 9:7-87 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. If I give away every penny I have today to some cause, and I have nothing left, what good is that going to do—first, for my family, or even to someone who needs help tomorrow? In other words, give what the person needs—but not so much that you burden your own family. That’s what Paul is saying in that passage we read a moment ago, 2nd Corinthians 8:13I do not mean for others to be eased and you burdened. It’s what Jesus told the Pharisees. God does not want more than we can give. If He did, He would be taking food out of the mouths of widows and orphans, and He would be contradicting the same Law which declares that He will destroy anyone who afflicts widows and orphans (see Exodus 22:21-24). Matthew Henry— 
“Works of charity, like other good works, should be done with thought and design…Due deliberation to the matter of our own circumstances, and those of the persons we are about to relieve, will be very helpful to direct us how liberal we should be in our contributions for charitable uses.” 
God does not mean for others to be eased while we ourselves are burdened. However, we should give out of our abundance to supply others’ lack, so that there may be equality among all in the church.

Jesus Christ is Lord.