Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Journey Through the Bible: Exodus 31 and 32

Exodus 31:3—“And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.” This is said by the Lord of a man named Bezalel, who would be the chief artisan is constructing the tabernacle and all the materials related thereto. This being “filled…with the Spirit of God” is not necessarily miraculous; indeed, the old King James Version does not capitalize the word “spirit,” and I agree with that thought. The Lord has given all of us talents; Matthew 25 and Romans 12 both abundantly teach that. Those talents, abilities, were given to us by His grace in order that we might use them to His glory. Bezalel, and another man, Aholiab (Ex. 31:6) had the talents of artisanship, “wisdom,” “understanding,” and “knowledge” from the Lord. I’ve often envied others of their talents that I don’t have; Beethoven’s skill at producing music was a blessing from God, not something accomplished totally by his effort. Yes, indeed, he had to work to improve and refine it, but still there was a natural ability there—not a miraculous one—that enabled him to write stirring music. It wouldn’t matter how hard I tried or how long I studied, I would never be able to create music like his. And if I even tried, I would be neglecting what talents God did give to me. We all have abilities from the Lord, special abilities, things that we can do better than others for His glory and honor. Let us, like Bezalel and Aholiab, use them, work in His vineyard, while we are here on this earth.

Exodus 32:14—“So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” This is the great “golden calf” chapter. The children, despite God’s wondrous acts which they had witnessed in Egypt, were soon turned back to the gods they were familiar with in their captivity. Jehovah was ready to wipe them out and start over (v. 10). Moses talked with Him and the Lord relented (vs. 11-14). People miss the point when they read this as an immature, wrathful, vengeful God who is “talked out” of His anger by a more patient, compassionate human. What we see here is the power of intercessory prayer. Moses beseeches Him on behalf of the people, and Jehovah hears that prayer. We, too, should pray for others in hopes that the Lord will act in their behalf. And, of course, the greatest intercession of all was made by Jesus Himself, who is our Advocate before the Father (I John 2:1). God has not changed; a loving prayer and advocacy can move Him to work in ways that are in harmony with His will. He always knows what’s best, of course, but He wants to hear from us anyway..

Exodus 32:26—“Then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, ‘Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!’ And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together with him.” Levi was the tribe into which Moses was born—which meant Aaron, too. And the tribe stood with him, and the Lord, in the matter of the golden calf. To the best of my memory, the Bible never says that this event was the reason God chose the Levites for the priestly tribe; indeed, He had already done that in His instructions to Moses on the Mount. But perhaps we do see some of the foreknowledge of God is selecting the one tribe that would stand with Moses in this crisis. At least somebody was faithful in the incident.