Monday, June 13, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Lesser-knowns (part 1)

When we come across passages such as Exodus 31:1-11 there is a tendency to survey the names, decide that we can’t pronounce them, and conclude there is no redeeming quality in passages such as these. We move on to something with more action, more adventure. We fail to remember this is God's Word, His special revelation to us. The New Testament reminds us that God's Word is inspired. This means there is value, even in passages such as this.

Here in Exodus 31, God chose for himself workers whose sole responsibility was to take that which is in the heavens and deliver it to the people. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had already moved through Egypt killing the first born in that final plague while simultaneously preventing the Destroyer from coming in (literally dwelling with the people that night). This same God is going to dwell in their midst. Scary thought, huh? Now, God was going to make a way through these men for His people to enjoy Him now that He had delivered His people from slavery.

Fast forward to Exodus 32 and read how the people had the wrong idea about God. It is necessary that God raise up workers that will help people understand Who He is and What He is about through their ministry. Let's look at the men mentioned in this passage to see what we can learn in order to be the kind of worker God uses to communicate the gospel.

His task is to make sure everything is done correctly. Translated from the Hebrew, his name means literally, “in the shadow of God” ("B" = in Hebrew is a preposition, "in"; "tsel" = "shadow/shade"; "el" = God). If you think of Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” then you have already understood his name!

Also, when you read Psalm 91, you should think of Exodus 12, where God said of the Passover, "when I see the blood I will cover you” (12:13) and “the Lord will cover over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.” (12:23). Those under the blood are in the shadow, under His divine protection. This man specifically is under the shadow, protection and influence of God and called upon by God by name to be the overseer of the craftsmanship for all things concerning the tabernacle.

Observe that Bazalel is the first person in scripture described as being filled with God’s Spirit. Some think that the Old Testament focuses on God, the Gospels concentrate on Jesus and the rest of the New Testament, on the Holy Spirit. That is obviously not the case. “But,” you may ask, “what about Moses? How could he have done all those things in the Exodus without God’s Spirit?” We observe that this is the first mention of one being filled with God’s Spirit, specifically. Interestingly, in terms of the flow of narrative, Moses and the seventy elders are described as having God’s Spirit in Numbers 11, but only after Bezalel and his crew constructs the Tent of Meeting! Moses had not yet entered to see God face to face!

God through His Spirit has equipped this man for a unique ministry: make something no person had ever made before, based on the pattern of something in the heavens. The evidence that this man was filled is seen in the fact that the Tabernacle and all the instruments for ceremonial worship were actually built! God Himself came and resided in the middle of His people! God chose this man to oversee that work.

Now, think about this: God gave His Spirit to a person in order to accomplish His Will by first enabling us to “be,” then to “do.” The Spirit of God makes it possible for man to be what he is not: a sinner saved by the grace and mercy of God—able to enjoy the presence of God. This might be a clue to the kind of man Bezalel was: a man who kept short accounts with God.  Second, as Bezalel sought to please God from his heart first, then he was ready to please Him with his hands and he needed the Spirit to do that work. God will never ask us to do something for Him without giving us what we need to accomplish that task—nothing He desires ever goes unfinished. There is no quitting when He has empowered to do.

Do you see the spiritual gifts that were manifest in Bazalel? He was given ability and intelligence, knowledge and craftsmanship. He received the gift of architecture, carpentry, stone-cutting and metallurgy. He was not given the gift of spiritual oversight, but the gift of manual arts and mechanical operations. What an office to hold, for here is no champion of mediocrity! These were skills that were dedicated, consecrated and spiritually enhanced. He was a leader who stayed within limits. He could do stuff Moses and Aaron and the priests and the seventy judges could not do!

Each person is talented differently and if our work is to be God-honoring, we must first dwell in the secret place of God’s presence. When we bring together all the spiritual gifts of the body in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do everything God has prepared us to do!

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