30 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; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34 And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35 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.
1 “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 has commanded.”
2 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. 3 And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, 4 so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, 5 and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” 6 So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more. – Exodus 35:30-36:7 ESV
While living in Egypt, the Israelites had been used by Pharaoh as forced labor to construct a wide range of building projects. From the manufacturing of bricks and site excavation to actual construction methods, the Israelites learned a variety of useful skills from their Egyptian overlords. But none of that had adequately prepared them for the task that God had for them to do. This time, the Israelites would be building a structure designed by God and intended to function as His earthly dwelling place. There would be no bricks and mortar, scaffolding, cranes, or heavy stones to move. The materials for building God’s house would be donated by His people and crafted by men who had been divinely commissioned and gifted by God Himself.
Bezalel had been filled with the Spirit of God and equipped with all the skills he would need to oversee the construction of the Tabernacle. He and his assistant, Oholiab, were to manage a special task force of skilled craftsmen whose giftings were divinely ordained and specifically suited for the task at hand. God had not only devised the plans for the Tabernacle but had also sovereignly supplied the talents and skill sets required to bring that plan to fruition. Even those who volunteered to be trained by Bezalel and Oholiab were motivated by the Spirit of God. This building would be unique in every way, from the details concerning its design to the actual fabrication of its building materials and the final assembly of all the parts to form the completed structure. God left nothing to chance.
And God’s Spirit-empowered workforce had no shortage of building materials to begin their construction project. The Spirit had also inspired the people of Israel to give generously in response to God’s call for donations.
Moses gave them the materials donated by the people of Israel as sacred offerings for the completion of the sanctuary. But the people continued to bring additional gifts each morning. – Exodus 36:3 NLT
The workmen eventually became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of donations that began to pile up. They had more gems, precious metals, fabric, and lumber than they could use. This unexpected problem led them to ask Moses to declare the fund-raising effort officially over.
“The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the Lord has commanded us to do!” – Exodus 36:5 NLT
God had miraculously supplied everything necessary for the completion of His earthly dwelling place. Yes, the Israelites had donated precious metals, gemstones, fabric, oil, leather, yarn, and a variety of other elements needed to build the Tabernacle, but they had done so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Their hearts had been moved to give generously and willingly; so much so that they had to be ordered to stop giving. And God had supplied the skill sets required to carry out the design of this one-of-a-kind structure.
Bezalel had been filled with “great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts” (Exodus 35:31 NLT). He was “a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze” and “skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood” (Exodus 35:32-33 NLT). In short, he was a master at every craft. And he and Oholiab had been divinely equipped to train others so that they could carry out the various tasks required to complete the Tabernacle on time and according to God’s detailed plan.
This entire endeavor had God’s seal of approval and divine enablement. No one could take personal credit for any aspect of the Tabernacle’s construction. Even the gifts donated by the people of Israel had been provided for them by God. During Israel’s exit from Egypt, God orchestrated a massive transfer of wealth from the Egyptians to His chosen people.
The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. – Exodus 12:35-36 ESV
Little did the Israelites know at the time that this financial windfall would be the source of their largess when it came time to build the Tabernacle. They would actually construct God’s house with resources plundered from their former overlords and oppressors. Egyptian cloth, jewels, gold, and silver would be used to create God’s sacred dwelling place among the people of Israel.
Well in advance of the need, God had provided everything the Israelites would need to obey His command. Even the talents and skills required to build the Tabernacle had been bestowed by God long before the need arose. The money, materials, and manpower were sovereignly provided for in advance. The Tabernacle had been fully funded and the talent pool for its construction had been fully filled even before God had shared the plans with Moses on Mount Sinai. Nothing stood in the way of the Israelites obeying God’s command and completing the construction of His house. God had done His part; now it was up to the people to fulfill their God-ordained role.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.