The Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze. (Exodus 35:30-32)
The Hebrew words translated as “to design artistic works” is more literally translated as, “to think thoughts.” It is interesting to consider how the latter phrase is translated as the former, especially considering that many are of the opinion that there is no art in Judaism or in the Bible for that matter. This notion is largely predicated on the fact that God commanded Israel not to have graven images. Frankly, when one visits Israel’s ancient sites, you don’t see much of what most would consider “art,” certainly nothing to compare to what one would see in the ruins left by the Romans and Greeks. The reason for this is, in Greek thought, art was focused on outward beauty but, in Hebrew thought, the focus was more inward — in a word, righteousness.
Let us then consider that the Scripture — that which defines righteousness — is a work of art. For example, the so-called poetical books of the Bible — books like the Psalms and Job — are artful expressions which is why the one who inspired them, the Almighty, is called the “Incomparable Artist.” In Judaism, the belief is that the skillful artist is not the one who is greatest in self-expression but the greatest in self-control — that is, one who pursues righteousness. You see, the one who seeks to live a life of righteousness expresses God’s purposes and ideals rather than his own.
Betazalel and the other artisans, in fashioning the Sanctuary after the pattern given to them, demonstrate this concept. The Sanctuary was the embodiment of the Father’s Will to dwell among and commune with His people and they with Him. The different artisans were given the wisdom to “think thoughts” about this purpose and then to express it through the manufacture of the different components and furnishings in the Sanctuary. When it was all completed, it was an artful expression that reflected the majesty of its Author — God Himself.
As for us, those who have been born again and filled with His Spirit, we are likewise commissioned to express the will of the “Incomparable Artist” in the earth. In fact, our bodies are regarded as Temples of the Holy Spirit and we should, consequently, reflect His character and nature for all to see. In thought and in deed, we are to pursue righteousness and, in so doing, demonstrate His Will for us and for others. We are to do this in such a way that those who behold our lives are impressed and impacted by what they see.
But in saying, “what they see,” I do not refer to outward beauty, but the beauty that only God can create and which comes from within us. So then, lives lived righteously reflect His majesty and glory; there is no artistry of man than can compare to it. It seems fitting, then, to close with the words of the poet David who said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:14).
Blessings and Shalom,