[Exodus 31] Bazaleel, Filled with the Spirit. In our chapter, God appoints a master craftsman named Bezaleel to coordinate the Tabernacle fabrication and the articles therein. Bezaleel is filled with the Spirit to enable him to do the work. What is the difference between this man being filled with the Spirit under the Old Covenant dispensation and the believer being filled with Spirit in the New Covenant? We will address these questions in our study.
[Exo 31:1-18 KJV] 1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: 3 And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 5 And in cutting of stones, to set [them], and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. 6 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; 7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that [is] thereupon, and all the furniture of the Tabernacle, 8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, 9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, 10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office, 11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy [place]: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do. 12 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it [is] a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that [ye] may know that I [am] the LORD that doth sanctify you. 14 Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it [is] holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth [any] work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh [is] the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth [any] work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, [for] a perpetual covenant. 17 It [is] a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. 18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
In v. 1-2, God calls a man by the name of Bezaleel to create and build the Tabernacle and the artifacts therein. Bezaleel’s name means “in the shadow of God.” In this passage, it is interesting to note that the order of the articles to be created is mentioned more or less in reverse order than they were introduced. There had to be a place to put these things as they were built, so the Tent of the Tabernacle came first. Rabbinical literature alleges that he was only 13 years old when he was commissioned to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Ancient writings also maintain that Bezaleel was Miriam (Moses’ sister’s) grandson making Moses Bezaleel’s Great-Uncle.
Fashioning and constructing the Tabernacle was no small feat. Bezaleel will require the assistance of skilled artisans and craftsmen among the people of Israel, all coordinated together to create the Mishkan and the articles, artifacts and utensils to be used therein for the worship of Jehovah. In v. 3, we see that God filled Bezaleel with His Spirit to accomplish the task. What is the difference between Old Testament filling of the Spirit and New Testament infilling? What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? There are six references in scripture to being filled with the Spirit.
1. Three references in Exodus referring to Bezaleel and those who assisted him Ex. 28:3; Ex. 31:3; Ex. 35:31
2. Jesus in the Gospel of Luke:
[Luk 2:40 KJV] 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
3. The 120 on the day of Pentecost:
[Act 2:4 KJV] 4 They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
4. A Reference in Ephesus that we should all likewise be filled with the Spirit.
[Eph 5:18 KJV] 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
In v. 4-5, we see that Bezaleel’s infilling of the Spirit was “to devise cunning works.” This agrees with the word used to describe Bezaleel’s being filled with God’s Spirit. The word in Hebrew means “filled in order to accomplish.” Thus we see the difference between Bezaleel’s infilling and the infilling of the believer with the Holy Ghost. In the Old Testament, infilling was for a specific purpose in terms of accomplishing a task. In the New Testament, we are filled with God’s Spirit not specifically for a job at hand but for the purposes of indwelling as God makes His home in our hearts by faith. We can nonetheless learn about the Spirit of God, indwelling our hearts by studying the indwelling of the Spirit in Bezaleel:
What are the characteristics of being filled with the Spirit in regard to Bezaleel? In verse 3, we see that God infilled Bezaleel to give him:
We might think this only applies to Bezaleel but consider Isa. 11:3, which mentions the seven spirits of God. There are not seven different spirits, but rather this verse in Isaiah mentions the sevenfold characteristics of the one Spirit of God as being:
1. Spirit of the Lord
2. Spirit of Wisdom
3. Spirit of Understanding
4. Spirit of Counsel
5. Spirit of Might
6. Spirit of Knowledge
7. Spirit of Fear of the Lord
Bezaleel was given three aspects of God’s seven spirits to devise something, specifically the Tabernacle and its sacred artifacts. How does this relate to us? Paul declared in Eph. 2:22 that we also are built:
[Eph 2:22 KJV] 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
We are not built in ourselves into a natural tabernacle, but we are a spiritual tabernacle or a community within a community to give testimony to the Living God. Every one of us has a part in God’s larger corporate purposes. In today’s church, the leadership has loomed so prominently, and the individual Christians role so marginalized that we have lost sight of the larger purposes of God in our individual lives.
Bezaleel built the natural Tabernacle, who is building us as believers? Paul makes this plain in 1 Cor. 3:10.
[1Co 3:10 NKJV] 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
The apostle’s ministry in the New Testament is the same as the ministry of Bezaleel in the Old Testament. Unfortunately, we see very little evidence of apostolic influence in the church today. For the most part, the Evangelical movement that lays claim to the New Birth experience almost wholly rejects the idea of apostles in our day. For this reason, the church is mostly in disarray with very little testimony of the many-membered body of Christ functioning in our midst.
In v 6, we see that God appoints a person named Aholiab to assist Bezaleel as his right-hand man. Aholiab’s name means “Tent of His Father.” You can ask the question, “what is in a name?” And see that Aholiab’s name means exactly what God used him to assist in making, specifically the Tent of the Tabernacle. There were others appointed to help as well, described in v. 6 as wise-hearted people to make the things that needed to be made. This was not a one-person operation. Paul said in 2 Cor. 5:1 that we are tabernacles in ourselves, and Peter said 1 Pet. 2:5, we are together a corporate tabernacle of God – dedicated to the broader purposes of the Kingdom.
In v. 7-11, the various things to be built are mentioned beginning with the Tent’s outer perimeter and the coverings thereof and then the centerpiece, which is the Ark of the Covenant. God is likewise raising a Tabernacle today. We should observe that the New Testament concept of Tabernacle and the Old Testament Tabernacle of Moses are two different things. In the book of Amos and the book of Acts, we see reference to something called the Tabernacle of David:
[Amo 9:11 KJV] 11 In that day will I raise up the Tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:
[Act 15:16-17 KJV] 16 After this I will return, and will build again the Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
What we are seeing being built here in Exodus 31 is the Tabernacle of Moses. How is it different from the Tabernacle of David? When David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, he did not return it to the Tabernacle, although the Tabernacle still existed at that time and was used by the High Priest for the same purposes Moses intended. Instead, David took the Ark to the palace grounds of his own residence and set it up under an open-air canopy and appointed worshippers to worship night and day around it. The Tabernacle of Moses, enclosed as it was represents the Old Testament approach to God. The Tabernacle of David represents God’s economy in the day of grace when all may come and worship Him in Spirit and Truth.
In v. 12-17, God follows up the commands to start making the Tabernacle with a reminder that while the work is ongoing, the people will still be required to strictly observe the Sabbath of His rest. We might ask the question is the Sabbath still incumbent upon us today? Paul addresses this in Col. 2:16-17:
[Col 2:16-17 KJV] 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath [days]: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.
In thinking about the Sabbath we need to remind ourselves that the Old Testament is a shadow of which Jesus is the substance. God established the Sabbath in the Old Covenant to say something to us of His rest that is available in Christ. With that in mind, what does the Sabbath tells us about Jesus?
[Heb 4:1-16 KJV] 1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it…
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and Spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Our rest is not just a day of inactivity. Our Sabbath rest is apprehended in consideration of our reliance upon Christ himself and not our own merits or worth. Our faith is not intended to put us to work but to bring us to rest and connect us with the supernatural resources of God in our life that we might fulfill our purpose.
I remember a young woman who complained once upon hearing a message about God’s broader purposes: “what does this have to do with me?” Well, it’s not about us. We live in a narcissistic society today. From the ’70s, our schools and our culture have been rooted in self-esteem philosophies that focus on the individual to the neglect of broader responsibilities. In Christ, there is belonging when we connect RELATIONALLY to the LARGER PURPOSES of God in a community setting, which is what the church is supposed to reflect (but sadly does not as much as it once did.) The church has become more of a religious marketplace where we push our little shopping cart through the service from beginning to end, only picking out the parts of personal relevance to our perceived need. We leave the service asking the question, “did you get anything out of that?” (an inspiring message, insightful teaching, emotional catharsis). From a biblical worldview, the more God-honoring question would be “did I contribute anything” (see 1 Cor. 15:26), but unfortunately, the only contributions most churches will tolerate are your presence, volunteerism, and financial contributions. This must change, and it is changing as God asks us to relinquish church as we know it for the church as He intends it.
In v. 18, the time Moses spends with God on the Mountain comes to an end with the Father delivering the Tablets of Stone to Moses, written by the finger of God.
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