The Workmen Of The Tabernacle

Or Service for the Lord Jesus and its Inspection at the Judgment Seat. (Exodus Chapters 35 to 40).

We wish to call attention again to what is rather significant. As an introduction to this section of the book of Exodus we have the Sabbath brought in. It seems wholly unrelated to what has gone before or to what is to follow. Why then does the Lord speak of it in this place? This is the section which deals with the workers, with service. In Matt. 11:28 Christ invites the heavy laden to come to Him for rest. Then in verse 29 He says to those who have come, “Take My yoke upon you.” The yoke is the symbol of service, but ere anyone can serve, they must have rested. The Sabbath means rest, it was God’s creation rest. When all was done, so that there did not remain as much as a tint to be added to the wing of a butterfly, God called man to share in His rest, a rest towards which he had done nothing. So the sinner is invited to share in the redemption rest, of which the Sabbath was a type. Christ did all the work, and on the cross said, “It is finished.” The sinner on believing enters on that Sabbath rest, he ceases all work for salvation, resting in what Christ has done.

How suited then is this mention of the Sabbath at the beginning of this portion of the book of Exodus, reminding us of the fact, that all whom God calls to service, know rest in Christ from the burden of guilt and sin.

Of all the workers, one is singled out for special mention, and that one is Bezaleel, who seems to have been a master workman, whom we doubt not speaks of our Lord Jesus, who said in Matt. 26:18. “I will build My church.” There is another, Aholiab, who has not quite the same prominence, and who may suggest the Holy Spirit’s work in connection with the church.

But having said this, we also believe that these men are typical of those who seek to serve according to their ability in the great work of the present, the Church.

Of all the workers Bezaleel is the one which God brings before us by giving us his name and genealogy. Again we ask, Why is this? Is it not that he is the type of all workers for God? We will begin with his grandfather’s name, “Hur.” Hur means Noble or Free born. This is an absolute qualification for all true workers. Free born. They were not that by their first birth, for they were born slaves of sin and Satan. Our hearts resented this, just as did the Jews in John 8:33, when they said, “We be Abraham’s seed, we were never in bondage to any man.” Thank God our new birth enables us to say, as Paul did to chief captain in connection with his Roman citizenship, “I was free born.”

“Uri,” Uri means, Light of Jehovah. This is another suggestive name, more especially in a type which brings before us service for the Lord, in connection with the Church. It recalls our thoughts to the sanctuary light, that in which the priests ministered. The greatest need of the present, is that of men, who Elijah like, stand before God and seeing things in His light, speak out, caring not for the frown or favour of men.

In Jeremiah’s day God had to say of some; “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied” (Jer. 23:21). Again in the next verse we read; “But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” While we have here a picture of the clergy of Christendom, it may well speak to those who have taken a more scriptural position. Addresses which are sound enough, but lacking in power, because of not being in God’s counsel, will never stem the tide of worldiness which is swamping the Lord’s people on every hand.

Bezaleel; “In the shadow of God.” This name suggests the words of the true Bezaleel, our Lord Jesus, in Isa. 49:2. “He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of His hand hath He hid me; He hath made me a polished shaft; in His quiver hath He hid me.” But the grace of self-effacement, which shone so very blessedly in Christ, we see also in His servants in the New Testament. The Baptist’s “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30. The apostle John’s hiding himself by using the expression, “The other disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20), and Paul’s “Not I but Christ” (Gal. 2:20), and hiding himself in 2 Cor. 12:2, when referring to the visions and revelations which he had received, by saying, “I knew a man in Christ.”

It has ever been and will ever be God’s way to take up the Bezaleels for His work, and he who would be used in fashioning the vessels and working on God’s spiritual house, will do well to take heed to the advice which a poorly-clad urchin gave to a very fine fisherman on a Scotch river. This man had everything that an up-to-date fisherman required, but as he fished the river up and down, not a bite was he getting. This little chap with a home-made outfit was pulling out the fish right along. At last this fine fisherman approached the lad to find out why this was so. The lad replied, “If ye wad catch fish, ye maun hide yersel.” That was the secret, so he lay low on the grass, and let the fish see the bait, but not himself.

So this man Bezaleel is the type of all servants, as we have seen, suggesting first the new birth, second, walking in the light, and thirdly, keeping in the shadow, letting Christ and not himself be seen.

Bezaleel And Aholiab And Their Fellow-Workers. (Exodus 35:34).

There was a place among the workers of the Tabernacle for every one who had a willing heart, again and again we get this in chap. 35. But among these workers Bezaleel filled a most important place, as we read, “And hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan.” As they wrought they instructed others also to the work.

This is what we get in Eph. 4:11, 12. We have five gifts in this passage, two of them are no longer among us, as we read in chap. 2:20, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” (N.T. prophets). While the men are gone, their work abides for us in the Word. But evangelists, pastors and teachers remain, and will till the church has been completed.

Those to whom God has entrusted any of these special gifts, as they exercise them in the assembly, serve a twofold purpose. They edify the body, and also they fit others for the work of the ministry. That is the meaning of verse 12, “For the perfecting of the saints, unto (with a view to) the work of ministering unto the building up of the body of Christ.” (r.v.).

As the evangelist preached the gospel to the world, and the pastor and teacher exercised their gifts in the assembly, younger men had before them the example, and in the teaching they were getting fitted to do that work themselves in a future day. The assembly was the training college for God’s servants, the present popular way was then unknown; that of sending young men to the college to study for the ministry, who in most cases have never given any evidence of being called by God to His work, and worse still, very often give little evidence of having been born again.

But even if they were really saved and gave evidence of having been called to the work, what a difference there is between sitting at the feet of those whom God has called and fitted for His work, in the building up the assembly; and going to an institution where men steeped in Modernism, do their best to instil into the minds of their students soul-destroying errors. The present revolt against the foundation truths of God’s Word is very largely due to this very thing.

God puts no premium on ignorance; in the past He has needed educated men, and still does. But when He needs them He knows where to get them. He will do as He did with Paul, save some young man, who has finished his college course perhaps for medicine or law, and send him into His work. That is what He did with Paul. In His providence He allowed him to sit at the feet of the most famous teacher of his day, and with his splendid education he was able to stand before Governors, Kings and the learned of the earth. And having saved him, he sent him into Arabia for three years, that like Elijah, he might learn God, and get rid of the glamour of earth, and see things in the sanctuary light.

But let us never forget, that for one Paul, God needs ten Peters and Johns, whom though the enemy saw that “they were unlearned and ignorant men,” yet had to acknowledge that they had the stamp of men that had been “with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).