Exodus 37-38, Mark 16

Costly Obedience.

Exodus 37-38, Mark 16

Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the Lord commanded Moses. – Exodus 38:22 ESV

Bezalel was called and equipped by God to serve a special purpose. God “filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze,in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 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 done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer” (Exodus 35:30-35 ESV). This seemingly ordinary man had been extraordinarily gifted by God to accomplish a very important mission that would help provide the people of God with a means of access to Him. He was to personally craft the majority of the elements that made up the Tabernacle, including the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of Show Bread, the Golden Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Bronze Basin and all the hangings for the court. Yes, he had an assistant named Oholiab, and there were other craftsmen involved, but the majority of the work and the oversight of all that was done fell to Bezelel. And Moses records that he made all that the Lord had commanded. Can you imagine the amount of hours he spent laboring on the construction of the Tabernacle? Just think about the pressure of having to build something for God and according to His exacting specifications. Talk about a picky homeowner. Bezalel would have had to have dedicated virtually every waking moment to the task of preparing each of the elements necessary for the Tabernacle to be finished, and there could be no cutting corners, no doing it his way. He had to be fully obedient to God’s plan. He had to be meticulously accurate – no matter the cost.

What does this passage reveal about God?

God chose a man to do His divine will. Surely, God could have built the Tabernacle Himself. He could have miraculously fabricated the entire structure out of thin air. After all, He made the entire universe out of nothing. But just as He commanded Noah to build the ark, the divine means of salvation from destruction in Noah’s day, God would have a man build the Tabernacle. But He would supernaturally equip this man to do His will. Without the Spirit of God, it would have been impossible for Bezalel to accomplish the will of God. All throughout chapters 37-38 of Exodus we read the words, “Bezalel made,” “he overlaid,” “he cast,” and “he made.” But we must always remember that, behind the scenes, God was working through Bezalel by means of His indwelling Spirit. God was using a man to craft the materials through which He would provide access into His presence and forgiveness for sin.

In the gospel of Mark, we read of the ultimate sacrifice on the part of a man. Jesus Christ, fully man, gave His life as payment for the sins of mankind. Paul tells us, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8 ESV). Jesus was the Son of God, but came to earth in the form of a man. He was the God-man. He took on human flesh and became one of us, in order that He might fulfill God’s divine plan for the redemption of mankind. The Tabernacle was a temporary solution to an eternal problem. It couldn’t solve man’s ongoing enslavement to sin and his ultimate destiny with death. In spite of Bezalel’s best efforts, the Tabernacle would never provide mankind with a permanently restored relationship with God. But God had a better plan all along. It would involve another man who would sacrifice greatly in order to accomplish God’s will. Jesus would end up giving His life. And like Bezalel, Jesus was divinely commissioned and equipped for the task at hand. Luke reminds us that, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He was filled with and led by the Spirit of God. “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness” (Luke 4:1 ESV). All throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was accompanied by the Spirit of God. The Father would provide His Son with His indwelling Spirit and empower Him for mission for which He had called Him.

And after Jesus’ death, when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome came to the empty tomb, they were surprised to find the stone rolled away and instead of the body of Jesus, an angel. He told them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6 ESV). Jesus had accomplished the will of His Father. He had done what God had sent Him to do. He had been obedient even to the point of death. He had sacrificed His own life, according to His Father’s divine plan, so that we might have eternal life. He died so that we might live.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Without God, we are nothing. Without the Spirit of God, we are powerless and helpless. While men have accomplished many great feats and done many great things over the centuries, it is impossible to accomplish the will of God apart from the Spirit of God. We are totally incapable of doing anything truly worthy or righteous without God’s help. The Scriptures describe us with these not-so-flattering terms: “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6 ESV). Bezalel was just a man. To do God’s will he was going to need God’s Spirit. He was going to need God’s equipping to accomplish God’s plan. Man without God is like a solar-powered battery without the Sun – powerless and useless. God’s Tabernacle was of divine origin. It was based on divine plans and would require divine enablement if it was to meet divine expectations. Doing God’s will always requires God’s empowerment.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

God provided the Tabernacle for the Israelites. He even provided the plans. Then He provided the man to do the job and equipped him with the Spirit-empowered gifting to do all that he would need to do. God provided me with Christ. He knew that, on my own, I would never be able to live up to His righteous standard. So He provided His Son as my sin substitute. He lived the life I could not live, and died the death I deserved to die. He took my place. God provided the means by which I could enjoy a restored relationship with Him. But now that I am in that right relationship with Him, He continues to provide me with His indwelling Holy Spirit, so that I might be able to accomplish His will in His strength, not my own. I have His Spirit within me, providing me with all that I need to live obediently to His will. Like Paul, I can say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). His Spirit enables me, empowers me, guides me, directs me, encourages me, and convicts me. It is the Spirit of God that enables me to live in obedience to God. It is the Spirit of God that makes it possible for me to live according to the will of God. But obeying the Spirit isn’t easy. I still have my sinful nature that urges me to do things my way. I have to constantly fight my sinful self and its desire to satisfy my own will rather than God’s. Paul reminds me, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17 ESV). It took a lot for Bezalel to build the Tabernacle. It cost a lot for Jesus to provide salvation for mankind. And it costs me to daily live my life submitted to the Spirit of God so that I might accomplish the will of God for my life. Obedience to God is costly. It will require sacrifice. But God always provides the strength we need to accomplish His will.

Father, You have called me and You have equipped me. You have called me to live a life of obedience to You, and have provided the power necessary to pull it off. But I must still submit to Your Spirit’s leading in my life. I must obey His promptings. Just as Bezalel had to follow Your divine directions and ignore any urges to cut corners or do things his way, I must willingly submit to Your Spirit’s presence in my life. I want to obey no matter what it may cost me. Thank You for providing Your Son as a sacrifice for my sins and the means by which I might be saved. Thank You for providing Your Spirit as the source of my daily strength and guidance. Continue to help me live willingly submitted to Your Spirit in all that I do. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org