Today's Lectionary Text
Exodus 31:1-11The Lord spoke to Moses: Look, I have chosen Bezalel, Uri’s son and Hur’s grandson from the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the divine spirit, with skill, ability, and knowledge for every kind of work. He will be able to create designs; do metalwork in gold, silver, and copper; cut stones for setting; carve wood; and do every kind of work. I have also appointed with him Oholiab, Ahisamach’s son from the tribe of Dan. To all who are skillful, I have given the skill to make everything that I have commanded you: the meeting tent, the chest containing the covenant, the cover that is on top of it, all the tent’s furnishings, the table and its equipment, the pure lampstand with all its equipment, the incense altar, the altar for entirely burned offerings with all its equipment, the washbasin with its stand, the woven clothing, the holy clothes for Aaron the priest and for his sons for their service as priests, the anointing oil, and the sweet-smelling incense for the sanctuary. They will do just as I have commanded you.
It’s really easy to read this passage from Exodus and gloss over it. I mean, what’s so exciting about God naming a few artists and crafters for some specific projects? If your eyes haven’t already glazed over from reading the numerous details about the ordination of priests, the altar, the tabernacle tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant, the table, furnishings and more in chapters 29 and 30, this group of verses comes just before that classic story about the golden calf. We typically want to get past the details and onto that compelling narrative.
I know I’ve read it quickly and moved on myself. My devotion this year is “A Chronological Tour Through the Bible,” by Ron Rhodes. I have not a single verse from the passage above highlighted.
But I will now.
As I read this again, these 11 verses teach us about provision and about duty as followers of the God of all creation.
God is telling Moses, and through him the people, that they are to create a tabernacle and furnishings to provide a holy atmosphere. But God isn’t having these things made for God’s own pleasure. They are to be built so the people of God — the same people who are going to stray into idolatry in the very next chapter — have a visual that God is with them, in their presence, enduring what they endure, witnessing what they do, and lording not over them but among them.
To ensure the people have the best visual possible of their God, we learn that the Creator identifies talented people to do this work. Crafters and artists will lead the effort to ensure these furnishings have staying power because they are well built, that they help people see God when they see these things.
God provides for us today as well. Yes, we have crafters and artisans, though I’ve somehow missed out on both of those talents. But I’m good at other things, and those skills can be put to work to show the people of today about the majesty of God. I need to acknowledge the things I can do instead of the things I cannot. I need to be willing to use the skills God has given me to show God’s gifts of love and grace in the world today. My kindness toward another person could be noticed by a non-believer and make that person curious about the one, true God. I might speak up for justice, and someone who isn’t quite sure about Jesus Christ might come to faith because of what he or she sees me do.
We can’t all be artisans and crafters. But we are all shaped by the divine crafter, our God, and we can use the skills he has given us to make God visible to the world around us.
And that just may have some staying power here on Earth.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious and loving God, help us to be the visual people need to see to draw them closer to You. Better yet, help what people see is us to be finely made, real parts of ourselves, not just for a visual but for use for your purpose for many years to come. Amen.
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