Part 6 in the Series:
The Bezalel Blueprint
By Don Enevoldsen
One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity. —Auguste Renoir
Artists are spiritual by nature. I make that statement unsupported by documentation, yet I think there would be few who would dispute it. Most artists with whom I am acquainted think of themselves that way.
The spirituality of artists has a long history. The Muses of ancient Greek mythology are a testament to the recognition that artistic inspiration has a spiritual element. Some early traditions say that there were three Muses, others nine.
Today most people think of the nine when they hear the word. (I have trouble picturing them without visualizing Olivia Newton John in a long white robe and wearing roller skates. That’s what I get for actually watching Xanadu.) These nine were envisioned as goddesses who inspired the creation of art. Each one had a specific area of influence. Callipe was associated with epic poetry, Clio with the writing of history, Erato with lyric poetry, Euterpe with music, Melpomene with tragedy, Polyhymnia with choral poetry, Terpsichore with dance, Thalia with comedy and Urania with astrology.
It is common for artists to connect to this spirituality in some form, often using the word “Muse” to refer to an artistic inspiration, whether they literally believe in the Greek muses or not. “Muse” is a good word to describe it, and any artist knows what is meant by the reference. Great value is placed on this inspiration, as indicated by the later development of the word itself. It appears in English as “museum,” a Latinized form of mouseion, which is a place where muses were worshipped.
Biblical artists recognize the spiritual influence on art as well, though we don’t use the terms of Greek polytheism as often to describe it. In Bezalel’s case, it is encapsulated in the simple statement, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God” (Exodus 31:3). In fact, this verse is the first time the phrase “filled with the Spirit” is used in the Bible.
But what does it mean? It is one of those terms that is used so often in church that I doubt most of us really think about it anymore. We just use it. For Pentecostals, it is a term that is used interchangeably with “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” It refers to an encounter with the Holy Spirit defined as empowerment, something different and subsequent to salvation. It is often portrayed as a higher level of Christianity, a kind of elite status.
For non-Pentecostals, it can have the same connotation, but usually without the emotional experience being necessarily attached. Rather, “filled with the Spirit” carries the usually ill-defined and abstract idea of being in sync with the Spirit’s desire. I have often heard it described in terms that seem to imply that you are filled with the Spirit if you have a correct understanding of doctrine and belief.
Both of these definitions have some truth to them, but I believe fall short of the central meaning. First, consider the Hebrew word, since that is the one specifically applied to Bezalel.
The word used in reference to Bezalel is male’ (pronounced maw-lay). It is in the Piel stem, which gives it the meaning of “to satisfy, to fulfill, accomplish, complete, to confirm.”
That is something a little different than just being full of something. The use of the word in other places helps get a sense of its complete meaning. In Exodus 28:17, for example, it is translated “mount,” in reference to mounting the precious stones on the high priest’s breastpiece.
In Exodus 28:41, it is translated “ordain,” referring to the ordination of Aaron and his sons.
In Exodus 31:3, it speaks of Bezalel being filled with the Spirit, but two verses later, the same word is translated “set,” something Bezalel would do with cut stones used in the Tabernacle construction.
In Joshua 14:14, male’ is translated “wholeheartedly” in a description of Caleb, who followed the Lord wholeheartedly.
In 2 Samuel 7:12, it is translated “over,” in the phrase “”when your days are over,” meaning when they are full or complete.
What does it mean, then, for Bezalel to be filled with the Spirit? It appears that the root meaning is focused on the idea of completion. To paraphrase God’s words to Moses, “I have chosen Bezalel, and now I will complete him, ordain him and set him in place.”
I am struck with the similarity in the meaning of “filled” and “holy.” If you recall, holiness has a root meaning of “wholeness” or “completion.” Following the progression from unclean to holy, it looks something like this:
• “Unclean” means confusion. In an unclean state, your destiny is contaminated with distractions and obstacles. It is confused and impossible to attain.
• The root meaning of “clean” is purity. It refers to becoming normal, that is, what you were created to be.
• The root meaning of “sanctify” is setting apart. Sanctification is the process of connecting clean with holy, of infusing your purpose with God’s purpose.
• The root meaning of “holy” is wholeness or completion. Achieving Destiny means becoming complete, without confusion, without dysfunction, committed to your purpose without distraction, and willing to let God turn you into something greater than yourself, for the benefit of humanity.
• If holiness means wholeness or completion, and filled with the spirit means to accomplish or complete, we could say that the means to holiness is through being filled with the spirit.
In other words, being filled with the Spirit is not some kind of reward for being particularly good or spiritual. Neither is it the result of having correct doctrine. It is the work of the Spirit to sanctify you and to accomplish God’s purpose in you.
In the New Testament, we get a better picture of how that works, but we will save that for the next part.
Next, Part 7: Drunk Artists Are Bad Artists
Go to the beginning of the series, The Bezalel Blueprint: Part 1, The Artist Bezalel
Do you have an additional thought on this subject? Please join the discussion and share your insights.