Exodus 31: 1 – 11 Divinely Skilled – Sept. 4, 2016

Theme: God’s creativity testifies to His grace.

 

Purpose: Get people to endorse the kingdom value of their vocational occupation.

 

 

How many of you have read the entire Bible straight through?

 

How many have tried to read the Bible straight through?

 

Where do you get bogged down?

 

Even if you are very ambitious you are still likely statistically to get stuck in the genealogy lists in the book of Numbers.

 

But that’s if you get past the endless descriptions of ritualistic laws of cleansing in Leviticus.

 

But you don’t even get there – and many never do – without wading through the six chapters leading up to our passage today.  Exodus 25 – 30.

 

With thunder and fire and smoke, God hands to Moses two tablets containing his ten commandments, the basic pillars of the law upon which He will build the fabric of society for millennia to come. 

 

What comes next?  Well, the first laundry list of the Bible, namely, a step-by-step guide in how to put together, carve, sew, chisel, cut, embroider, and hew each and every article that will be used in the mobile tent that will house these two tablets and he withholds no details.

 

If you’re creating an exact replica of the tabernacle that was built in the wilderness some 4,000 years ago, it’s a very helpful set of descriptions.

 

If not, it’s incredibly boring.  It’s a ‘page-turner,’ as in: “I think I’ll just move on to the next page.”  Boring, tedious, and seemingly meaningless.

 

 

 

Ah, but as people of the book we believe that each and every part of Scripture has some inherent moral value.  What might it be?

 

Exodus 25: 1 – 9

 

Who is portrayed in this little speech?  God the artist!

 

The Holy One of Israel as the master designer, the architect extraordinaire!

 

Just when you thought the Lord Almighty was king of the big, the bad, and the terrible – you know, plagues, the flood, and the killer waves of the Red Sea- here we see a very different God, one who will create a visual gasp of beauty.

 

History of Truth, goodness, and beauty.

 

We don’t fully understand God unless we see His beauty.

 

Catholic vs. Protestant art.

 

Artists, did you know you do divine work?  Your labor actually involves kingdom building.

 

Ex. Rachel Simko in Ecuador

 

Décor used in the kingdom of God confirms God’s beauty.

 

 

But if you get through chapter 25 and actually chug your way through the next few chapters what you realize is that God the artist is not content with only one art form. 

 

As he forms the tabernacle, his embellishments, his stylistic flourishes, his fanciness, is not confined to one wall or one sculpture.

 

Exodus 26: 36 – 37

 

The sheer quantity of forms, structures, materials, fabrics, and molds used for this edifice brings to the surface yet another characteristic of God besides his beauty and that would be, his inclusiveness.

 

Imagine if all that was needed for this tabernacle were the sculptors – no carpenters, no masons, no seamstresses, no painters. 

 

Such uniformity would be easier to manage, easier to stage, easier to direct, but it would not accurately represent the imagination of the Creator!

 

For that matter, if all he needed were sculptors, what sort of second class citizens would the carpenters and the masons and the painters become? 

 

One of the most disheartening feelings is when you sense that someone is valued for their work more than you are valued for yours.  We know we devalue occupations without trying but it’s bad when it somehow gets out.

 

Which is why one university campus was blessed by an unusual circumstance that happened on graduation day. 

 

Ex. Story of applause for maid.

 

Each skill used in the kingdom of God had value to our Lord.

 

The diversity of skills needed for the kingdom of God confirms his inclusivity.

 

Ex. Barbara Steinbeck

 

 

But wait!  It gets better, and our passage today shows why.

 

Not only does God’s instruction to add décor confirm His beauty, not only does the diversity of art confirm His inclusivity, but the distribution of skills among his people confirms his generosity.

 

I think you can imagine the glee these two blessed young men, Bezalel and Oholiab, must have felt to be chosen to oversee the craftsmanship of the tabernacle.  No doubt they were eager to serve.

 

But what I hear through this passage is the Lord’s glee:

 

Vss. 3 – 6

 

God is thrilled to give each of us different skills with which we are endowed: accountants, lawyers, engineers, doctors, social workers, teachers, tradesmen, caregivers, programmers,  scientists, managers, consultants, researchers.

 

It gives him great joy to give more skills than can be categorized or numbered or indexed.  (They try but they always leave out pastor).

 

Professionals, technicians, homemakers, did you know God gave you the skills you’re good at?  Yes, you worked on them, you trained, you learned how to execute your skill, but there are aspects of your skill which others could never emulate.

 

Accounting would drive me nuts.  I would make an atrocious plumber.  If all the scientists in the world had my skills, we’d still think the world was flat!

 

Our Lord is so generous – and the distribution of skills to his children confirms it.

 

 

But we haven’t gotten to the bottom of this passage yet.

 

The Lord says:             “Bezalel, Oholiab,  I have called you by name.”

 

“I have filled you with divine spirit (the spirit of God!)”

 

You can count on it.  You know how you’ll know?

 

Verse 11:                         “They shall do just as I have commanded you.”

 

That’s what people do when led by the Holy Spirit: exactly what the Lord commands.

 

Have you ever thought that the Holy Spirit could direct your every vocational decision?

 

Did you ever think the Holy Spirit could lead your law practice, could show you how to program, could guide you in designing a lesson plan, could help you troubleshoot that hardware?

 

That’s the Holy Spirit’s work!  If Bezalel and Oholiab needed the Holy Spirit to devise artistic designs, work in gold, cut stones for settings, and carve wood, then you need the Holy Spirit to carry out your weekday job too!

 

The dexterity of my skill confirms His Spirit.

 

 

Here’s my goal.  I’m just going to spell it out.

 

My goal is that you develop an attitude, a perspective about the value of your work such that Monday morning at 8:00 a.m., or 7 a.m., or 9 a.m. or whenever you punch in, that moment becomes the most spiritual moment of your week.

 

Monday morning becomes the apex of your life of faith!

 

Sunday morning becomes the briefing session to prepare you for Monday morning’s agenda.

 

Your spiritual well-being Monday morning sets the tone for productivity, quality control, employee relations, leadership, excellence, and accountability for the entire week.

 

Remember, folks: 90% of the Bible character we talk about were NOT pastors; most were not church professionals.  They were fishermen, politicians, writers, teachers, businessmen, farmers, etc.  These were the ones led by the Holy Spirit!

 

Practical suggestions:

1.     Quiet Time before work

2.     Do regular check-ins during the week

3.     Network with other spiritually-minded folks at work.

4.     Ask the question: how does God want to use me in this office?

5.     Get a mentor.

 

We serve a God who loves complexity, diversity, creativity, and imagination.  And every chance he gets he wants us to exhibit these in all we do.

 

Bezalel and Oholiab were ordained by God to use their crafts for the building up of the kingdom of God on earth.  Don’t value YOUR skills any less!