Two of my favourite Bible characters appear in the story of the building of the Tabernacle: Bezalel and Oholiab (Ex 31:1-11, Ex 36:1-7) Bezalel and Oholiab were the artists who would turn the detail of God’s commandments into reality. God appointed these two artists to do everything He had told Moses needed doing, They possessed a range of skills: they could work with gold, silver and bronze; they could cut and set stones; they could work in wood; they could engage in all kinds of crafts. This reminds us that there is a role for each one of us in God’s great plan. God gave Bezalel and Oholiab and other people the skill and the ability to know how to do what He wanted them to do. ‘So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded. (Ex 36:1)
I love these two characters because they remind me of the value of the arts and show how we need not only people who can announce the ‘bigger picture‘ but people who can turn these visions and dreams into reality. One of the strengths of the church is that we are not all the same. We do not all have the same gifts, personalities and calling. Moses’s job might have been to receive the instructions about the Tabernacle and all that was to go into it, but he did not have to make all those items himself. That was the work of Bezalel and Oholiab and their team of craftsmen. It’s vitally important that we do not expect square pegs to fit into round holes. It’s vitally important to know what our calling and gifts are and to work with God in these areas.
The Tabernacle could not be built by one person; it required teamwork. It required people to give generously and to work tirelessly. We read about this in Ex 35:10-19, and see that willingness and generosity are hallmarks of people who are keen to follow God in the specifics as well as in the general. Paul reminded the Corinthians that ‘if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.’ (2 Cor 8:12) There is no place for coercion, manipulation, shaming or guilt-tripping in Christian leadership. What works is when a leader like Moses can communicate a God-given vision to people and then people respond, giving what they can, doing what they can. This kind of teamwork gets things done and shows us that we all have a part to play in God’s kingdom!