As I’ve been reading through Exodus, I was reminded of a crucial reality that applies for the people of God. As the LORD directed Moses to build the tabernacle He tells Moses about an individual named Bezalel of Judah. Concerning Bezalel the LORD says:
I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills Exodus 31:3
This is the first Biblical account of someone being filled with God’s Spirit. Although many of us fly past this verse, this is crucial for New Covenant believer to understand. Notice what is included in this filling!
Wisdom is a trait where a person doesn’t just know what to do, they also know how to do it. When James describes wisdom from Heaven, it is all about how to live and act according to God’s way no matter what you are doing.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
If you understand something, you know the ins and outs of that reality as they truly should be understood, not just in a way that makes sense. With God, having understanding means seeing from His perspective!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Imagine coming out of Egypt, going through the Red Sea, and having all the other experiences that one of these Israelites had. For many they would lead to questions, but for Bezalel these questions aren’t there because the Spirit of God has given Him understanding of God to some supernatural degree. He recognizes God’s holiness as well as His intent to have His people worship Him.
When we think of knowledge in our modern age we primarily think of facts. The ancient Hebrew perspective of knowledge was not one of facts but one of experience. If a person has knowledge, that means they have experienced the truth of what God’s direction led them to know. This is a knowing that changes who you are and how you respond to the world around you. Without this heart-changing knowledge, God’s people are doomed to destruction.
my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. Hosea 4:6
Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge have some natural and intentional overlap with each other as they cannot be separated very easily. What I found most interesting is that included with being filled by the Holy Spirit is “all kinds of skills.” This can and does include a lot of things that we may not normally consider very special, but it turns out they are crucial! All of these together is what anointed Bezalel to help build the tabernacle so that God’s presence would dwell there.
The Real Temple
When reading the Old Testament, it is crucial to remember that everything they taught was not a full expression of who God was or even what He was doing. He was preparing a people who would be able to respond to Him while only giving them a glimpse of what it was going to be like. (Hebrews 10:1) After sin was atoned for through Jesus, God wasn’t done. He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in believers that they would be anointed just as Bezalel was – to build the tabernacle (essentially a mobile temple before the first one was built in Jerusalem). On Earth, we are that tabernacle.
Paul explains this reality as it is now because of the work of Jesus.
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:21-22
The temple of God is not a building, but it is the people of God. This has always been God’s plan, yet a key aspect of His plan is that He refuses to do it apart from His people. Just as God used Bezalel filled with His Spirit to build the tabernacle, He builds up His church through His people that are filled with His Spirit.
This spiritual reality that we exist in is unique in that we are what we are building. We are both the stones of the building (1 Peter 2:5) and the masons (Ephesians 4:7,8,11,12) anointed by the true builder who is Christ (Matthew 16:18).
Build and Be Built
If you are a Christian you are called to be filled with the Spirit of God for the purpose of building His people. If you have studied the Word of God, then you have gained at least some wisdom that much of the world doesn’t know! If you have understood the Scriptures, then you have the Holy Spirit teaching you eternal truth! If you have ever applied what you learned from the Bible then you have experiential knowledge! And of course you have some sort of skills that you can use to apply these truths to building up other in love!
You might not feel equipped, but remember the building process goes two ways. As you help build others through what God has given you, others will help you grow in return. This has one interesting key though. You have to be with others!
There are many Christians who claim to love God but reject the church, that is, God’s collective people. They want to go rogue and live their faith out secretly on their own, largely with good-sounding reasons of not wanting to push anyone’s buttons or because of fear and some level of social anxiety. Sorry, but the truth is that’s not how it works. You cannot have eternal life with God apart from life with His people. You can’t get built up unless you yourself build up others. This is why Jesus said Love God and Love people. For you to grow in God, you have to love others by helping them grow. This two-way street can also be thought of as feeding and being fed. This same figurative language is used numerous times by the New Testament writers to convey this giving and receiving of spiritual nourishment in the Body of Christ. (See Acts 2, 6, 20, 1 Corinthians 11, 2 Peter 2, Jude 1:12)
In seasons where you are isolated from others (such as maybe a pandemic) it is crucial to engage with the Word of God and engage with others. We need to use our wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and all kinds of skills to build one another up and receive from others. This is not a mentoring thing, although that could certainly be part of it. This is the way we allow the Spirit of God to be present among us. Where we gather together, there He is also, building His church. (Matthew 18:20)
You may not know what skills you have, so here are some examples. There are what I would call the obvious spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, then the roles given in Ephesians 4:11, and then the member gifts in Romans 12:3-8, but these are nowhere near a collective list. Remember that we all have “all kinds of skills.” Some of us can communicate and convey truths better than others, so that may be one of your “all kinds of skills,” but there are so many more! As the Spirit leads you can use whatever skills you have to build up the body. The skills of encouraging, listening, praying, waiting, persisting, giving biblical feedback and wisdom, answering theological questions with the bible, suffering with others, celebrating others, nurturing, designing, gift-giving, singing, resting, and even cooking (yes real food)! Even the ability to rebuke or just show up are skills that build up the body of Christ as long as you do it in love!
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:16
Belzalel was a woodworking and stonecutting artist. His partner, Oholiab, and many others were just simple tailors and craftsmen. The skill they had wasn’t important. The purpose for which they had it was. Your skills, whatever they may be, are important and crucial for encouraging the body of believers so that they may be built into the fullness of God, and you with them! You are called to build and to be built up in the process!