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Shemot/Exodus 35:31 And He filled him with the Spirit of G-d: in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge, and in every work.
The verb - the Pi'el prefix 3ms form of the root , to fill - is here used with a double accusative:HaShem (the subject) fills Betzalel (first object) with the Spirit (second object). The Pi'el voice also extends the basic meaning: not just of filling up, but filling to capacity or overflowing. The atnakh accent on the word Elohim provides a clause break; the following attributes - , wisdom, , understanding and , knowledge - are not part of the filling, they are the result of being filled with the Spirit. Betzalel now has the capacity to do the work of the Tabernacle and to teach others to help him because he has been filled with the Spirit of G-d.
The same verb, this time in the Ni'fil passive form - , he was or has been filled - occurs in the account of Solomon building the Temple in Jerusalem: "King Shlomo sent for Hiram and brought him from Tzor. He was the son of a widow from the tribe of Naftali, but his father was from Tzor, a bronze-worker filled with wisdom, understanding and skill for all kinds of bronze craftsmanship. He came to King Shlomo and did all his bronzework" (1 Kings 7:13-14, CJB). The parallel account, set in the mouth of the king of Tyre, is even more expansive about Hiram's skills: "He is skilled in working gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and timber, as well as purple and blue dyed materials, fine linen and crimson material; he can do any kind of engraving; and he can make all the equipment necessary to accomplish any task assigned to him" (2 Chronicles 2:13, CJB). Although this account uses the phrase , "knowing to do", the skill-set is a more conscious copy of the skills given to Betzalel for the construction of the Tabernacle: "skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver - by any sort of workman or skilled designer" (Shemot 35:35, ESV).
The fourth stanza of the Amidah also echoes the words of our text:
You grace mankind with - - knowledge and teach mortals - - understanding. Grace us with - - knowledge, understanding and wisdom that come from You. Blessed are You, L-rd, who graciously grants - - knowledge.
As a people, we ask HaShem for His wisdom, His knowledge and His understanding at least three times each day. This recognises that these qualities come from Him alone and that we need to keep on asking to be refilled every day so that we can continue to draw upon and use them. Implicit is the idea that they are like consumable resources: we use them up and without refilling, we will run out and be unable to do the work of the kingdom.
Writing to the Ephesian church, Rav Sha'ul said "be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18) as an on-going command; the people are to go on being filled with the Ruach. How is this to be done? The text continues, "addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the L-rd with your heart" (v. 19, ESV), so praise and worship is clearly one of the keys. More, Sha'ul goes on: "giving thanks always and for everything to G-d the Father in the name of our L-rd Jesus Christ" (v. 20, ESV); thanksgiving, being thankful to G-d is also a significant component.
As we are filled with the Spirit of G-d, how should we expect our lives to change? Firstly, we should expect the fruits of the Spirit to be manifest in us: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things" (Galatians 5:22-23, CJB). Anyone who is not moving in or at least towards these character traits has not received the fullness of the Spirit and may be frustrating G-d in His desire to conform us to the image of His Son. Notice that Rav Sha'ul carefully points out that the Torah is in full agreement with these characteristics; they are completely compatible with keeping the Torah - not as a slavish or legalistic obsession - but as a joyful obedience to G-d who calls us to obey His commandments.
Secondly, Rav Sha'ul makes at least four lists of spiritual gifts that flow from the presence and indwelling of the Ruach in a believer's life. There are two slightly different lists in 1 Corinthians: "For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues" (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, NASB) and "G-d has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues" (v. 28, NASB); the latter of which makes it plain that there are both appointments and gifts associated with the Spirit. In Romans, he writes, "And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:6-8, NASB), while in Ephesians he adds "He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Messiah" (Ephesians 4:11-12, NASB).
This last list also makes it very clear what is the purpose of the gifting or skill-enabling. It is for the work of building up the Body. Just as Betzalel was gifted with craft skills to enable him to build the Tabernacle and all its furnishings, so believers today are gifted with spiritual skills, practical skills and even management skills so that they may be used to build up the body of Messiah, "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (v. 13, NASB). They are not for personal gain or aggrandisement, but for use and edification of the community in which each gift is placed. Moreover, the way the gifts are grouped and presented makes it clear that a combination of the gifts and skills should be present in each local assembly so that the people there can be encouraged and equipped to serve both their own members and the wider body, just as Betzalel's skills benefited the whole assembly of the Israelites as the Tabernacle was built and furnished.
In these days of shaking and testing, of pruning and challenge, we are more in need than ever of being filled with the Spirit of G-d. As not only people but also the "physical world is groaning" (Romans 8:22) with the imminent presence of the L-rd, we need to not only be filled, but filled to capacity and overflowing, so that the gifts and skills that we have can be shared, taught to and birthed in others, so that the body of Messiah may be built up and the harvest brought in before the day when the L-rd returns. Yeshua asked the question, "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8, NASB). Our answer needs to be a firm and definite "Yes, He will", as we prepare ourselves and others to receive Him.
Further Study: Isaiah 11:2-5; Colossians 3:16-17
Application: Do you have all the gifts and skills you need to reach and speak to others about the gospel and the reality of the L-rd's imminent return? Cry out to Him today and ask Him to fill you to overflowing so that you may fulfill your purpose and calling in these last days.
© Jonathan Allen, 2012
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