Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Biographies of Ancient Man: Bezalel and Oholiab

By Danae Styles

When listing our favorite and most prominent men in the Bible, the names Bezalel and Oholiab are not likely the first names to come to anyone's mind. However, these individuals were outstanding men of their day and both are excellent examples of the intelligence of ancient man.

Artist's Impression of the Tabernacle

A Tale of Two Craftsmen

Found within the pages of Exodus, Bezalel and Oholiab are two of the men whom God appointed to build the tabernacle in the desert. God called Bezalel by name and, “filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge and in all kinds of craftsmanship to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, an in bronze, and in the cutting of stones or settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.” (Ex. 31:3-5). And he was not alone; God told Moses that He put skill, “in the hearts of all who are skillful” (Ex. 31:6), specifically appointing Oholiab with Bezalel, to be able to make everything as He had instructed Moses. This included the tent of meeting, the ark of testimony, the mercy seat, the furniture, the utensils, the golden lampstand, both the altar of incense and of burnt offering, the laver, the garments of the priests, the oil and even the fragrant incense.

God gave Moses very specific instructions regarding the construction of His tabernacle and these craftsmen were undertaking a huge and very important task. Sometimes we forget as we read through the somewhat tedious chapters of instructions that the Israelites actually had to put these things together in the wilderness! There was no room for error - this was God’s holy dwelling place among His people. Moses records chapter after chapter of details and tasks and then describes the process of constructing the different elements – weaving, carving, overlaying with gold, etc (Ex 36-39). How can one help but recognize the intelligence and skill of these craftsmen!

Artist's impression of the Tabernacle

God used wise and knowledgeable men to build His dwelling place in the desert, intelligent men who were made in His image, not simpletons who were slowly evolving. These two men, “and every skillful person in whom the Lord [had] put skill and understanding” (Ex. 36:1) worked to make all the things that the Lord commanded Moses, according to every detail, right down to the sockets of the gate and the pegs of the tent (Ex.38:31). They would have needed not only the skills, but also the tools and the knowledge of how to work with the materials.

Where does intelligence really come from?

Man is intelligent not because we have achieved a certain level of evolution, but because we are made in the image of an intelligent God. He designed us the way we are, and as this section in Exodus explains, He gives us skills to be able to do what He desires us to. God specifically gifts His people with abilities and wisdom to accomplish His works.

Another application can be drawn from this account of Bezalel and Oholiab. According to the beautiful sovereignty of our God, He chooses to use mankind for His glory, all mankind. His Holy Spirit inspired and gifted Moses, the prophet, lawgiver, and great leader of the nation, and the Spirit also filled Bezalel and Oholiab with wisdom and skill in craftsmanship and artistry. God chooses and uses the rulers of the nations as well as the builders, weavers, and metalworkers. He is not limited to using only the individuals who will part seas and lead armies; He also gives gifts to those who work behind the scenes. Each position is known and valued by God, and each individual is required to be faithful with what they have been given. Some He calls to lead, others He calls to follow; but all He calls.

Meet more ancient men: 

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