Biblical Narrative

I Have Called By Name Bezalel

by Chesed Dent

Director of Global Studies Internships, Liberty University

Many of the students who sit in my office want to change the world and do big things for God. Some crave recognition; but most just really want to be a part of something big and impactful for the Lord. I understand this desire. I myself am someone that thrives on large platforms and I enjoy opportunities for big impact in God’s kingdom. However, in the last year, in response to my desire for big recognized things, the Lord has consistently brought to mind a man named Bezalel.

Exodus 31:5

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.”

About a year ago I was reading through Exodus and the Lord paused my eye on the name Bezalel; I haven’t been able to “unpause.” Among the giant names of the Christian faith like Abraham and Moses, Bezalel has not really been given a place. I cannot say I have ever heard a sermon about him and I know I am guilty of skimming his story in Scripture. And yet, he played an important role in God’s story.

Bezalel was chosen by God to oversee the building of the tabernacle. Exodus 31 and 35 tell us that God “called by name Bezalel” and “filled him with the spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship.” This is not a list of different things that the Lord provided Bezalel, but, instead, is one thing that God gave Bezalel (the spirit of God) and it was from that one thing that the other things  were released (skill, intelligence, knowledge, craftsmanship). In other words, Bezalel is filled with the Spirit who then fills him with what is needed for him to do what God has tasked him with.[1]

If overseeing the building of the tabernacle is not enough of a big deal, reading further in the account sets Bezalel apart even more. While Bezalel did have a lot of help from other craftsmen with the building of the tabernacle, it was Bezalel that built the Ark of the Covenant and some of the most holy items placed in and near the Holy of Holies (Exodus 36–39).

Exodus 37:1a

“Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood.”

It is interesting to read through the account of the tabernacle being built. There are many times where it says “they” did such and such, but what stands out to me is the number of times you see that “he” did such and such. What an honor to be tasked with such a unique work. But it also made me consider what it is like to be set apart for a work. Was he lonely? Did he get tired? Was he recognized for what he was doing? Did anyone care?  He worked hard. He built something beautiful and God glorifying. And yet, we barely know his name.  Could it be that we barely know his name because his name is not what is important? Bezalel may not be remembered by many of us, but his work is.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I consider what it is that the Lord tasks me and others with and the fact that there are so many hard workers in the Kingdom of God whose names will never be known. Our culture, even our Christian culture, likes to recognize people. I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad. There are a lot of names that I know in Christendom. Some of those names belong to solid preachers and teachers who probably never ever tried to make their own name known. But some familiar names belong to people who have given into the pull of fame and though they might still point to Jesus, their names oftentimes seem to throw a shadow over the message they say they proclaim.

When the tabernacle is completed, that is just what is said. It doesn’t say that Bezalel finished it. It just says “all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished” (Ex 39:32). In fact, the last time Bezalel’s name is mentioned in the account is just to say that he made everything he was commanded to make (Ex 38:22). We are often guilty of wanting our names to be known. I read about Bezalel and I keep thinking, “He worked so hard!! He did so much!! How do we not know his name?!?” But I think this is the point. His name is not important. And neither is mine. Neither are the names of my students. Neither is yours. We do not serve God for the purpose of our fame and recognition of our names. We serve for His fame and His Name. We are simply tasked with the obediences God places before us in order to invite people into worship of HIS name.

Exodus 38:22

“Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the Lord commanded Moses”

I hope I do recognize the Bezalels of God’s work.  Furthermore, I hope I train my students to be willing to be Bezalels, obedient to work hard in the tasks set before them even though their names may never be known. May God call us by name and set His Spirit in us to enable us to do the work that makes His name more known.


[1] Stuart, Douglas K. “Exodus.” Vol. 2, The New American Commentary,  edited by E. Ray Clendenen, 650-651. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group. 2006.

Chesed Dent has spent almost 20 years in Southeast Asia, both as a third culture kid and as a global worker. After graduating from Southeastern seminary in 2012, she moved to Lynchburg, VA to work at Liberty University. Currently she is serving as the Director Of Global Studies Internships where she trains students for overseas service. Her focused interests of training include: Third Culture Kids, Transition and Culture Shock, Reentry, Spiritual Warfare, Storytelling/Orality, and the Grand Narrative of the Bible. She just completed her second Master’s degree and connected research: “The Grand Narrative Worldview: A Narrative Inquiry into the Impact of Biblical Metanarrative Teaching in Liberty University’s School of Divinity Global Studies Program.” She loves to shop in international markets, sing, ride rollercoasters, go to festivals, watch crime shows, eat French fries, and can regularly be found surrounded by Old Testament commentaries geeking out over the awesomeness of God’s Word.

Matthew Emerson
Dr. Matthew Y. Emerson, Dickinson Associate Professor of Religion, earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and an M.Div. and Ph.D. in from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Emerson joined the OBU faculty in 2015. He previously taught at California Baptist University, where he served as Chair of the Arts and Sciences Department in the OPS Division. Emerson has authored or co-authored over 20 publications. His research interests include the Old Testament’s use in the New Testament, early Christian interpretation, and theological method. He serves as co-Executive Director of the Center for Baptist Renewal, co-editor of the Journal of Baptist Studies, steering committee member of the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar, and Senior Fellow for the Center of Ancient Christian Studies. He is also a member of a number of scholarly societies. Emerson grew up in Huntsville, AL, where he met his future wife, Alicia. Married in 2006, they have five daughters. He and his wife are both members at Frontline Church in Shawnee.