2013 – Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania
Genesis 24: Go to the land of my birth and get a wife for my son Isaac.
It’s not certain, but the servant given the task of getting a wife for Isaac is likely Eliezer, the servant named earlier by Abraham as his possible heir. It’s this good man that Abraham sends on a very important mission. The reason we aren’t absolutely certain that it’s Eliezer being spoken of in this passage is that he’s unnamed in the narrative. Even when he introduces himself to Rebekah’s family, he identifies himself as “the servant of Abraham.” I consider Eliezer to be one of the most admirable little-known people of the Bible. Here’s a man who’s dedicated to Abraham, who knows how to pray, and is entrusted with the most delicate of tasks. He humbly accepts the mission and then believes the Lord will help him accomplish it. I pray that the Lord will see me as a sort of Eliezer in his Kingdom. I’ll gladly let other more capable people have the starring roles in accomplishing the Lord’s purposes in this world if he’ll use me to quietly go about serving him in ways for which I’m best suited. Once in a while, I’ll feel especially honored if he trusts me to do some especially sensitive task.
Take away: It’s an honor to be used of God to do things that go largely unnoticed.
Modern day Levites
1 Chronicles 23: The Levites no longer have to carry the Tabernacle.
Centuries earlier when Moses organized their ancestors the descendants of Levi were given the task of moving the Tabernacle and all its furnishings from place to place. It was a big job and it was their job. As Israel fell into the idol worship of the Book of Judges the Levites were still considered holy men, although the application of that position was a pitiful distortion of “holy.” Now things are coming together. Israel’s in possession of the Promised Land. They have a King who wants nothing more than to serve and please God. Their days of wandering in both the physical and spiritual wilderness are past. And the days of moving the Tabernacle, including the precious Ark of the Covenant are also over. David, displaying his organizational genius, counts the Levites and finds that there are 38,000 men of age of service. He divides them into subgroups and begins handing out assignments in keeping with the spirit of their original assignment generations earlier. From now on they may not have to carry the Tabernacle from place to place, but they’ll be the overseers of the Tabernacle and, once it’s built, the Temple. The priests, descendants of Aaron, will handle the sacrifices and such. These sons of Levi will take care of everything else associated with the Temple. As I realize how much David loves the yet-to-be-built Temple and watch as he puts these Levites in charge of it I see what a compliment he’s paying them. I know it’s not the same but I’m reminded of the people who accept responsibilities associated with the Church. Thank God for church treasurers, Sunday Superintendents, teachers, volunteer janitors, and many others who love the Church and faithfully give of their time, talent, and treasure. These, I think, are the modern day Levites.
Take Away: Never take faithful servants for granted. They serve the Lord just a significantly as the preachers and singers.
Gifted by God
Exodus 35: He’s filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and know-how for making all sorts of things.
Dear old Bazalel, what a man of God he was. He could preach some of the finest sermons, was a true prophet of God. Uh…you say he wasn’t a preacher? Well, then…what a singer and musician, so much talent. What? He couldn’t sing a lick? Well, if he was filled with the Spirit and a great blessing to the people of God, what did he do? You know the answer. This Spirit-filled man of God made things, working with his hands. He was the one God used in the construction of the Tent of Meeting and its furnishings. Why are we so spiritual about gifted teachers, preachers, singers, and musicians and so unspiritual when it comes to gifted craftsmen? Thank God for those piano players and singers…but when the plumbing is in need of repair give me a Spirit-filled plumber (not that there aren’t some singing plumbers out there). This is a good reminder to not only acknowledge the contributions of those who come to church work days, but to also recognize that their gifts and abilities are just as God given as are the pastor’s. And, to remember that those gifts include, not only artists who can do uplifting works of art, but carpenters, air conditioning people, and plumbers who are gifted by God to do his work too. In fact, we could sometimes use a few less “up front” folks and a few more “Bazalels” in the church!
Take Away: God gifts people in a wider variety of ways than we think.
Sons and daughters of Bezael and Oholiab
Exodus 31: I’ve personally chosen Bezael son of Uri…I’ve filled him with the Spirit of God.
Here we are at the familiar commissioning of Bezael and his assistant Oholiab. We know all about them, right? I’m kidding, these two men are lost deep in the pages of our Old Testaments and only the finest of Sunday School scholars knows who they are. Really, that’s too bad because today pastors of small and medium sized churches owe a lot to modern day Bazael’s and Oholiab’s. You see, Moses is receiving lots of complicated construction projects from the Lord, but, as far as I can tell, there’s not a blueprint in sight. The Lord tells Moses to just take note of what he’s being told but not to worry about the actual construction because there are two men down at the foot of the mountain that have been filled with the Spirit. The result of that filling is not that they’ll be preachers or prophets or singers. They are Spirit-filled craftsmen. All Moses has to do is give them the instructions he’s receiving from the Lord and they’ll take it from there. I firmly believe that the Spirit still empowers craftsmen (and women) for the hands-on needs of the church. For instance, when we have a church dinner, I’ve learned to stay out of the way as several women in the congregation are gifted at planning and executing church dinners. A while back someone came up with the idea of removing all the concrete sidewalks of our church building and replacing them with beautiful paving bricks. You can take all I know about stuff like that and put it in a thimble but they took that project on. I helped where I could, mainly as a “brick carrier.” Both men and women went to work on that big project and it came as no surprise to me that some of those folks knew how to do it. They handled everything from preparing the ground to knowing how to create a pleasing pattern in the bricks. In the church we tend to lift great speakers and singers but, I fear, fail to recognize the Spirit powered hands-on people. Thank God for sons and daughters of Bezael and Oholiab.
Take Away: There are many gifts for service, all of value to God and his people.