I’m guessing you don’t remember his name. You might not have ever even heard his name. If I asked you to list the Top-5 Influencers whose work most significantly impacted God’s people in the Old Testament, you wouldn’t mention him in the same breath as Abraham, Moses, David, or Elijah. I have a strong suspicion we could expand it to the Top-10, Top-25, Top-50 Influencers, and his name still wouldn’t come up.
He was just a craftsman, after all. He didn’t part the waters of the Red Sea, single-handedly slay a Philistine giant, or call down fire from heaven in a showdown with hundreds of false prophets. He was just a craftsman who lived in the days of Moses, more than 3,000 years ago. But his skillful work outlived Moses, and Joshua, and the Judges, and Samuel, and King David.
His name was Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. The LORD told Moses in Exodus 31:
…I have filled [Bezalel] 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. (31:2-5)
His finished work is so plainly described in Exodus 37 and 38 that for most, it’s quickly glanced at and easily overlooked. Could I encourage you today to slow down long enough to see what’s been recorded there for all time:
Bezalel made the ark… (Exo 37:1)
The ark of the covenant.
He also made the table… (37:10)
He also made the lampstand… (37:17)
He made the altar of incense… (37:25)
He made the altar of burnt offering… (38:1)
The altar that would sit in front of the tabernacle as the place of sacrifice to God… for centuries. Generations later, when young Solomon was taking his first steps as Israel’s third king, he assembled Israel at Gibeon, before the tent of meeting of God.
Moreover, the bronze altar that Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, had made, was there before the tabernacle of the LORD. And Solomon and the assembly sought it out. And Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the LORD, which was at the tent of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it. (2 Chron 1:5-6)
That night was the life-changing night for Solomon–the history-shaping night for Israel–that God appeared and said to the inexperienced king, “Ask what I shall give you.” What an incredible invitation! What an amazing night! A night that followed a day that centered around an old altar that had been carried around for centuries. The altar built by a craftsman named Bezalel.
Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses… (Exo 38:22)
…and his work has impacted God’s people for millennia. We don’t know how long he lived or when he died or how he died or where he was buried. But how many priests faithfully served while using his handiwork? How many souls were comforted as sacrifices for sins were offered on what he built? How many fearful hearts took courage as the ark he constructed was carried before them in battle? How many children’s Bible classes around the world have been shown artists’ depictions of his work?
And how thankful we ought to be for the men and women whose ability and intelligence, with knowledge, artistic design, and craftsmanship continue to impact God’s people. The brother who built the pulpit from which thousands of sermons will be preached. The sister whose colorful bulletin boards shape an entire generation of children in a church family. The designer and maintainer of a website in southern Indiana that will help a seeker in India. A warm meal lovingly prepared for a family that’s struggling just to make it through another day.
May we never take for granted what God can do with “just a craftsman.”