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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sleeping Beauty part 4 OR "Hello, Holy Spirit. I Didn't Hear You Come In!"

Perhaps the very first time we see the Holy Spirit show up on the scene in a monumental way is in the Old Testament rather than the New.

In the New Testament, Jesus talked about giving us (his disciples) the Holy Spirit as comforter and guide after His death and Acts chapter 2 gives us the haunting visual imagery of the Holy Spirit “resting” on the apostles. Smoke. Fire. Weird sounds. Strange languages. The usual God stuff.

Often times this Acts 2 account is the “go to” passage when referring to the “filling of the Holy Spirit.”

But, because of what we know about the Holy Spirit—being God Himself—we know the Spirit was on the scene as long as God was on the scene which is forever—no beginning, no end.

In Genesis we read about the Spirit “hovering over the waters” in the creation account (Genesis 1:2).

But, in the book of Exodus we see perhaps the earliest account of the Spirit indwelling mankind for a special purpose and for a specific time with extraordinary gifts.

And, it is in the context of art and aesthetics.

Exodus 31
Bezalel and Oholiab

1-5GOD spoke to Moses: "See what I've done; I've personally chosen Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. I've filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him skill and know-how and expertise in every kind of craft to create designs and work in gold, silver, and bronze; to cut and set gemstones; to carve wood—he's an all-around craftsman.
6-11 "Not only that, but I've given him Oholiab, son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan, to work with him. And to all who have an aptitude for crafts I've given the skills to make all the things I've commanded you: the Tent of Meeting, the Chest of The Testimony and its Atonement-Cover, all the implements for the Tent, the Table and its implements, the pure Lampstand and all its implements, the Altar of Incense, the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering and all its implements, the Washbasin and its base, the official vestments, the holy vestments for Aaron the priest and his sons in their priestly duties, the anointing oil, and the aromatic incense for the Holy Place—they'll make everything just the way I've commanded you."

Bezalel and Oholiab are the original resident artists of the church. Commissioned by God Himself, these two men were given the specific ability or “skill” to create the aesthetic that God dreamed up for the tabernacle.

The word “skill” that is used in the passage is hokmah. The same word is often translated “wisdom.” Just as wisdom comes from “skillful living” the skill the artists possessed came with practice and dedication. It is not extremely clear in this passage whether God grabbed two men who were already skilled and poured himself into them to make their work extra special or if he took two men who knew nothing of craftsmanship and caught them up to speed with a lifetime’s worth of knowledge and craft by supernatural means.

Either way, these two men were raised up by God for a specific purpose in the crafting of the tabernacle and the overseeing of all the other men and women who were involved in the artistry and construction and beautification of the place where God would meet with His people.

Craft. Construction. Design. Incense. Interactive worship. Eye candy.

These passages set the stage for God’s purpose for artistic expression and the role and importance of the artist in the church.

Furthermore they introduce us to the role of the Holy Spirit in creation and working with mankind as sub-creators who work in connection with the Spirit to bring glory to God and redeem the world.