20 September, 2009

Skilled Builders

Exd 31:1-6 The LORD also said to Moses,"Look, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, intelligence, and skill in all kinds of crafts. He is able to create beautiful objects from gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in cutting and setting gemstones and in carving wood. Yes, he is a master at every craft! "And I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the naturally talented craftsmen so they can make all the things I have instructed you to make:

1 Cor 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

Moses tells us Bezalel and Oholiab were gifted builders working on the tabernacle in the wilderness. Paul tells us there were other builders of the church in Corinth. There's a very strong analogy between these two groups of builders. The tabernacle and the church are both the dwellings of God, one temporary and the other permanent. The tabernacle was an image of the way God dwells in His kingdom and the church is a foretaste of the kingdom itself. Both come, "some assembly required."

Spurgeon pointed out in Morning and Evening the other day that even the most wonderful bare foundation provides very little comfort during a storm. You need the building as well! The building needs a foundation, but you need the building as badly as a foundation.

Bezalel was a builder. A literal one. Earlier in Exodus Moses appointed judges over 1000's, 100's, 50's and 10's. Bezalel probably was not one of those. He was probably one of those guys who who took his gripes to Joe who was in charge of 10. And Joe might say his gripe was a tough call and tell him to bounce it up to Frank who was in charge of 50's. Bezalel was just a guy in the tribe of Judah. He happened to have a knack for hammering gold, and the Lord called him to service in the tabernacle.

And the Lord filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God.

To make a lampstand?

Yes. To make a lampstand.

And to carve a pomegranate.

The judges over 1000's, 100's, 50's and 10's weren't filled with the Holy Spirit, but Bezalel was. That's dramatic. The Lord ignores the men given power, and fills those skilled in crafts. The Lord pours out His Spirit on Bezalel as truly and as purposefully as He does on Moses, and not just Bezalel: Moreover, I have given special skill to all the naturally talented craftsmen so they can make all the things I have instructed you to make

Can you begin to imagine all the things there are to be made in the house of God that you attend every Sunday? I'll start, but I'm sure together we could come up with many more.

First, did you note from the Corinthians passage the church was not founded by Christ? Paul laid the foundation of Christ, not Christ Himself. Jesus is the Stone and the Cornerstone, but He deputizes stonemasons for the work. Even the most fundamental work in the church is done by men with the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Others built upon that foundation. Floorplans were designed, walls blocked out, doorways, roof-lines, windows all needed to be built for strength and function. Provision had to be made for cooking, cleaning, and disposal of all the kinds of waste life creates. But then the stuff actually needed to be built. Mistakes needed to be corrected. The walls needed plastering and painting. Trim needed to be fitted. Doorknobs and shelves and countertops needed installation. Pictures needed to be picked out for the walls, and flowers for the entrance.

The church is like that.

Money needs to be safely gathered and handled. People need to know how to reach each other during the week. The sick need to be remembered and supported. The lazy need to be chided. The young need to be kept happy and the young in the Lord need milk. The old need to be visited and the mature in the Lord need to be employed in His service. The observant need to heard and the unpleasable need to be singled out. Almost every small gathering needs food and drink, and everyone needs a chance to tell someone how their week is going. Everyone needs a little advice and everyone needs a little coaching in how to receive it graciously (especially when it's poor.) The young singles need to feel included. The parents of young children need to feel included. The older couples need to feel included. The older singles need to feel included. The new people need to feel included. The steady dependables need to feel included.

And you are skilled at one or more of these things. Bezalel was skilled in all of them. Oholiab was skilled in one or two. Both were filled with the same Spirit toward the same end - building the tabernacle of God.

The tabernacle was wild with incredible variety, and every bit of it was executed by skilled craftsmen filled with the Spirit. Did you know there were a dozen or more pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet embroidered around the hem of Aaron's vestments? Or the lampstand with its almond blossom lamps was entirely beaten from a single piece of gold? Or that the Lord specified this because it mattered to Him? The construction of the tabernacle was spelled out in painstaking detail, and showed just how many jobs the Lord's builders performed.

These littlest things matter to Him, and He's naturally gifted you to add some little thing to His church - to your church. He's ready to fill you with the Spirit. Are you ready to build? Your church will profit greatly when your gifts are employed in His service.


Kansas Bob said...

I love this imagery of the church in 1Peter 2:

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Each of us are part of His spiritual house but I suspect that the building resembles nothing that we have ever seen as we each (each stone) have a connection to the cornerstone and foundation.

So I think that the challenge is to re-imagine church in a different way. Not as the tabernacle or temple of the OT where priests came from one family and judges/kings had a special place in the community and only prophets seemed to have the word of the Lord.

Our challenge is to re-imagine church where each gift is equal to the other.. where no person lords it over another.. where each has the word of the Lord.. where each stone is connected to the foundation.. and yet each stone needs other stones for stability.

Here endeth the rambling :)

Kevin Knox said...

A beautiful picture, indeed, Bob. And I'm with you on it.

Oddly, I think that picture can be lived out within the existing framework, even though it would have to be done invisibly. I've already seen enough of home church to doubt that paradigm really adds enough useful to the mix to make it successful. The kind of building you're talking about is impervious to external organisation.

There might be a little clue in the fact that our modern church is based on the synagogue much more than the temple. The temple/tabernacle was a picture that's been completely replaced by the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our presence as His body on Earth requires building, but the form by which we meet is almost immaterial to that discussion. Our synagogue-like pattern just might be adequate. I certainly hope so, because an awful lot of the Lord's dearest children are fully engaged with an existing church. :-)

Kansas Bob said...

Agree with your take Kevin. My beef is not so much with the physical structures (although they are quite a drain on kingdom resources) that the church uses but with the hierarchical 'priestly' systems within the buildings.. or home groups.

I watched a movie titled "Francis of Assisi" and was interested to see how Francis' idea of poverty and not owning property was opposed by the church.

We may be a spiritual house but we still seem to like our temples better than our tabernacles.. something about brick and mortar that attracts us.