We’ve been talking the past few weeks about the many ways God equips us—through His Word, through prayer, through the lives of those around us. Today I’d like to focus on how He equips us with our unique gifts and talents.
To begin, let’s look at the story of two familiar men in the Bible: Bezalel and Oholiab. What? Those names don’t ring a bell?
Okay, you’re right. They’re not that familiar. In fact many of you are probably scratching your heads right now and thinking A Holy Who?
But, you know, the cool thing about their story is God knew their names. Not only did He know their names, He knew the names of their fathers and their father’s fathers. He knew what tribe they came from, he knew their backgrounds and He knew their talents and gifts. Of course, He did. He’s the one who gave them all those things. He created them on purpose, for a purpose: to accomplish His will.
To give you a little context on their story, God has spent 40 days with Moses on Mt. Sinai giving him very detailed instructions on how to build His Tabernacle. I’m sure Moses was probably feeling a little overwhelmed. He was trained in leadership, not in architecture. He might have been thinking, “Now how many cubits was that table supposed to be? And how in the world does someone fashion an almond flower out of gold?”
But God had it covered. Let’s read what Exodus 31 has to say.
31 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you.
We can learn a couple of things from this passage. First, all Bezalel’s skill and wisdom was given to him by God. He was gifted for a specific purpose. And boy, was he gifted. Not only was he skillful in metal working, he was also a jeweler, a carpenter and probably an accomplished stonemason as well.
Secondly, we know Bezalel didn’t spring to life fully able to accomplish all these trades. Obviously God had gifted him with a ton of raw talent, but he became a master of his craft or crafts through training. Where did he receive his training? In Egypt, of course. Like all the other Israelites of his generation, he began his life in slavery.
The Bible tells us the Egyptians put the Israelites to work making bricks out of mud and straw, probably in creating tombs and temples for Pharaoh. Metal working, stone cutting, carpentry, jewelry work: all would be trades that were common in this area of Egyptian life, but it was probably rare that one man would have learned them all. Bezalel had.
Makes you wonder how and when his talent was first discovered? Did a foreman notice him one day when all the other Jewish slave boys were molding their bricks from straw and mud? Was he carving his brick in intricate detail? Was he drawing hieroglyphs in the mud instead of working it into a square? Maybe he was molding his brick into a sphinx.
Whatever the case, God used Bezalel’s time in slavery and that of all the other Jewish craftsmen to train them for their life’s purpose. I’m sure they had no idea as they fashioned gold decorations for a Pharaoh’s tomb that someday they would be fashioning the golden wings that would cover the mercy seat of the living God or when they were learning to build furniture for a dead ruler’s afterlife that they were actually in training to build furniture for the earthly dwelling place of the Lord of the Heavens.
I don’t think God works any differently in our lives today. He’s created each one of us with families and backgrounds and specific gifts and talents for doing his will. No matter how hard your background may have been, God can and will use it to accomplish His will in your life. No matter what skills and talents you’ve been given, God delights in using them for his purpose.
Have you offered those gifts to Him to use in any way He chooses? I’d like to encourage you to do that today. You may be surprised where He leads you.