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.

Biblical Narrative

Storied Discipleship

by Chesed Dent

Director of Global Studies Internships, Liberty University

Just a couple of weeks ago Christians around the world celebrated Christmas. There is a wonder to this time of year, a whisper and shout of “Jesus came!” The shadowed outline of the nativity takes center stage on holiday greeting cards and the students on our campus are decked in their holiday sweaters singing Christmas carols on the quad. And in the midst of the normal Christmas culture of celebration, a student walked into my office last month and said, “I’m so excited about Christmas. I think it’s the first year I finally understand why Jesus came. And I’m telling everybody about it.”

I was taken aback at first. She grew up in the church. She has been a Christian for a long time. She even holds a spiritual leadership role on our campus. So I asked her to explain what she meant. This is what she said: “Well, before now if you had asked me why Jesus came, I would have said that He came to die on a cross to forgive me of my sins. And that’s not wrong. But this is the first year I understand how Him coming is a part of the Story.”

Over the past few years I have become more and more convinced that many of our students come into our program in similar places of understanding. They claim Christ as their Savior and know the answers to the Gospel outlines they have been given, but would have a very difficult time telling the story that led to the birth of Christ. They know the Romans Road or whatever evangelism tool they have learned. Many of them know the focused explanations of specific passages and theological viewpoints. However, when asked how Jesus’ birth is the answer to what happened at the Fall in Genesis 3, their explanations are the rote memorization of the Gospel tools they have been given and discipled under instead of the telling of the Gospel Story written throughout the Grand Narrative of the Bible.

My dad commented a few weeks ago that we are very good, in Western Christian contexts, at digging postholes. “We train pastors and teachers to dig deep in one spot (passage), which is actually very good. However, if we want to build a fence, we not only need fence posts; we also need rails to connect the posts.”[1] Many of our students have been discipled under fence post teaching. They have learned great truth but have not been given the rails that connect the posts. Then they are trained in the many and varied Gospel evangelism tools that were developed to help explain and present the Gospel but were never meant to take the place of the Gospel story.

Faith family, I fear that we are developing a generation of Christ followers that have a fragmented understanding of the Bible and we then train them to share the Gospel in the same way. They know the script of their tools and explanations but not the script of the biblical story. And they are so very hungry for a good story to belong to and tell. Do we not see it in the passion they have when they talk about their favorite books, movies, and fandoms? Are we guilty of not teaching them the better story? Is this why so many of them are leaving it?

Our students don’t only need evangelism and discipleship tools. They don’t only need focused fence posts. They don’t only need explanation and script. They need to know how to integrate all of these crucial elements into the story they come from. Research shows that worldview and identity are tethered to the narrative that a people belong to.[2] In a world where there are so many competing narratives, we must do a better job telling the true narrative of the world.[3] Into this narrative we must help our students place their knowledge and tools. In the God of this narrative they will find identity, meaning, and purpose. And from this narrative they will better speak an invitation to be a part of a story that celebrates the coming of Christ.

The student that came into my office was walking in new knowledge of the biblical metanarrative teaching she has been sitting under recently. This is not the first year she celebrated the coming of Jesus. I am not, in any way, questioning her sincere salvation and love for Christ. But there is a newfound excitement in how she understands and shares about the baby boy born in Bethlehem so long ago. She now understands that the birth of Jesus is part of a progressive story of God making His presence available to His people. She understands that at the Fall, when God was laying out the consequences before Adam, Eve, and the serpent, the promise He made for the offspring of the woman to bruise the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15) was a promise for the birth of this Christmas child. But her understanding does not stop there. She doesn’t jump from Genesis 3 to Matthew 1 in her Christmas narrative. Instead, she can follow the line of God pursuing His people in order to dwell with them through the entire metanarrative. The Christmas story has expanded out in her understanding to include the entire Grand Narrative of the Bible. This is why she said, “I’m so excited about Christmas. I think it’s the first year I finally understand why Jesus came. And I’m telling everybody about it.”


[1] Dr. Don Dent, shared in a phone conversation, October 25, 2019.

[2] Michael Vern Matthews, “Is There a Reader in this Text?: The Place of Metanarrative in the Problem of Meaning” (PhD diss., Trinity Theological Seminary, 2013), 104-105.

[3] Michael W. Goheen, “The Urgency of Reading the Bible as One Story.” Theology Today 64 (2008): 469.

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.