Wrapped up Exodus this morning. And while I think I probably should be meditating on the wonder of the glory descending on the completed tabernacle, I find myself wondering about why I can’t seem to ever remember the names of the guys who built the tabernacle.
For as many times as I’ve read the account; for as much real estate as is devoted to their work (four entire chapters of Exodus); for as big a deal as is made of the fact that they were commissioned by God Himself, and specifically filled with Spirit of God for the job of creating the place where the glory should dwell, for me at least, they pretty much remain anonymous.
Think of the other places where the glory of God would dwell and I bet you know who made them without even thinking. Who created the earth? God. Who birthed the church? Jesus. Who built the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon. Okay, so who in the world fashioned the tabernacle? Crickets . . .
Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses; and with him was Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver and designer and embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen.
(Exodus 38:22-23 ESV)
Bezalel and Oholiab. Don’t even know how to pronounce their names. Partly because they never make many sermons. Pretty sure they’ve never had a flannel graph figure stuck on a board as part of a Sunday School story. It could just be me, but I’m thinking they are unknowns for the most part.
They are kind of nobodies to the world at large. Even though God Himself knows them by name, and identifies them by name — and that, on the holy mount where He gave Moses the ten commandments, the basics of the law, and the blueprints for the tabernacle. Even though God specifically calls them out as being filled with “the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and craftsmanship” (31:3, 35:30). Even though 1/10th of the book of Exodus is devoted to the work they did.
So how come? That’s what I’ve been noodling on for the last two days of readings in Exodus.
Think of Exodus, and of the great characters developed in its story, and Moses and Aaron immediately come to mind. But Bezalel and Oholiab? Nope! Good grief, even Pharaoh has more notoriety than these guys (and a flannel graph figure to boot!). And yet, they built the place where the glory of God would dwell.
But it’s Moses’ name that ends up on the dedication plaque.
So Moses finished the work.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
(Exodus 40:33b-35 ESV)
So how come, when the glory falls on the work they’ve completed, they get so little glory? So how come, when they did so much work, they remain so anonymous? So how come, with all the detail in Scripture concerning their contribution to God being in the midst, I can’t seem to remember their names? That’s what I’ve been chewing on.
Welcome to the kingdom. Some will get accolades, others with remain anonymous. For some they reap in the here and now, others are asked to wait for their reward until the there and then. The endgame isn’t notoriety, it’s faithfulness.
Oh, that came up this morning in my readings as well!
Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
(Psalm 37:3 ESV)
Probably won’t remember their names until next year when I read about them again, Lord willing. But inspired by their faithfulness. In awe of the God who filled them with His Spirit to accomplish His purposes in order to reveal His glory — even if they remain in the shadows. After all, like the John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 ESV)
In service by His grace alone. In service for His glory alone.