Thursday, November 18, 2010

Called and Equipped

We read about two men, Bezalel and Oholiab, in Exodus 31 and 35-40.  Until Exodus 31, we have not read anything about these men.  It appears that they were essentially unknowns.  They were not leaders of the people of Israel.  But they were known to God.  

The Lord set them apart to do His special work in building the tabernacle and its furnishings.  In Exodus 31 we read: "The LORD said to Moses, 'See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.  And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.  And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you....'" (31:1-11).  

God called (by name) and equipped these two men, filled them with His Spirit, and set the task before them.  Does this sound familiar, dear Christian?  It should.  We, too, have been filled with God's Spirit and given at least one spiritual gift with which to serve the Lord and His church.  He has a role (or roles) for each of us to fulfill in our local church family.

Bezalel and Oholiab faithfully served the Lord as He had called and equipped them.  The tabernacle was completed, as we read in the last few chapters of Exodus.

But as I read these accounts, I began to wonder: What if Bezalel and Oholiab had said "No"?  

What if they had preferred to use their great skill to create other things besides what God had called them to do?  

What if they had believed they weren't really gifted enough to do what God called them to do?

What if they had held back because people didn't really know them?

What if they had said they just didn't have enough time to do the work?

What if they had said the work was too large for them to do (and it was indeed a huge task!), so they just didn't want to try?

What if they were too afraid to step out and take on the project?

What if they didn't want to do it because they were afraid of what people might think?

The work was vast in scope, time-consuming, and painstakingly detailed.  What if they had decided to give up partway through, because the task was too hard?

Dear Christian brother or sister, far too often we can tend to use excuses like these to delay or avoid serving the Lord with the talents He has given us.  Rather, we want to be obedient, as were Bezalel and Oholiab, and as have been so many of God's people throughout the centuries.  We can each join the "great cloud of witnesses" (see Hebrews 12:1-2) in serving our Lord faithfully in the tasks He has given each of us.

What has God called and equipped YOU to do in your church family?  Will you do it faithfully, in the power of His Spirit?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Fall of Aaron

Moses' brother Aaron helped lead the nation of Israel.  This morning I was struck with the highest point and the lowest point of his life, only a short time apart, and how great his fall actually was.

Aaron's highest point had to be the account recorded in Exodus 24.  "Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel.  There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.  And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank" (24:9-11, emphasis mine).  Imagine that--they SAW the God of Israel and ate and drank in His presence!  That is an honor that only a few people have ever had.

Then we have a number of chapters in which the Lord gives the Ten Commandments to Moses, along with clear instructions for the building of the tabernacle.  If I'm reading Exodus 24:15-18 correctly, after Aaron returned to the people, Moses was on the mountain another 46 days.  

During that month and a half, the people of Israel convinced Aaron to build a new god, representative of one of the gods of Egypt.  Worse, Aaron led in sacrifices and worship to this god in place of the true God of Israel.  We read about all of this in Exodus 32:1-20.

Still more, when Moses confronted Aaron about his sins, Aaron both lied and tried to minimize the sins he had committed (Exodus 32:21-24).  He even said that the calf just magically popped out of the fire when he threw in the gold jewelry brought by the people (see Exodus 32:24)!

Aaron went from being in the very presence of God to worshiping a golden image (and lying about it) in just a few weeks' time!  How high was Aaron's high, and how low was his low!

Reading things like this makes me all the more determined to be ever-vigilant to follow Christ closely EVERY DAY.  I--you--we are all quite capable of committing horrible sins that dishonor our Lord.  Even when we have followed Him closely and experienced His work deeply in our lives, our sinful hearts can deceive us and cloud our memory and lead us into any of a number of sins.  Our enemy, the devil, would love nothing more than to cause God's children to fall into grievous sin.  First Peter 5:8-9 tells us, "Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world."  The devil wants to pull us away from God, but we can effectively resist him as we stand firm in our faith.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please join me in being faithful to God and watchful against any sin that could dishonor our Lord.  Where we might have a particular weakness for one sin or another, let us be extra-vigilant.  Let's not make the kinds of mistakes Aaron did, nor commit even smaller sins.  Rather, let us stay faithful to our Lord every moment of every day.

Lord, please grant myself and every reader the grace to do this.  Amen.