Lent 2018: See the Lord's Salvation: Day 36

Building the Tabernacle


Today's Text: Exodus 36:1-38, Matthew 27:50-51, Hebrews 9:23-28

Scripture Reading: Exodus 36:1-38, Matthew 27:50-51, Hebrews 9:23-28

“God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.”

This is a popular saying among Christians that, like most popular sayings, is both true and not true. It’s true in the sense that God has a generous track record of calling unlikely, untrained individuals. Shepherds, prostitutes, and unlearned fishermen have all occupied significant roles in the story of God.

However, God also has a track record of calling very equipped people. Moses was raised in a palace under the leadership influence of Pharaoh. The prophet Elisha was discipled by the great prophet Elijah. The Apostle Paul was an expert in the Law, having studied and trained in it since childhood. And Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other builders of the tabernacle were “skilled,” possessing all the “wisdom and understanding to know how to do all the work” (Exodus 36:1).

These different stories capture the paradox of calling, which consists of two seemingly conflicting truths:

On the one hand, God always provides what we need for the task. Whether it’s talent, training, or a handful of loaves and fishes, God’s provision is sufficient for His purposes. We can trust this to be true, and it should instill us with confidence and peace.

On the other hand, we are not sufficient on our own. Moses was trained to be a leader, but he could not summon down plagues. Paul knew the Law, but he relied on the Holy Spirit to deliver understanding. And although the artisans possessed both the talent and the instructions to build the tabernacle, there was nevertheless a lot they didn’t know. They didn’t know what the cherubim should look like. They didn’t know the precise designs of the curtains. They were given a rough sketch, a partial vision, and then expected to construct the rest in faith.

That is the tension of calling. God provides us with more than enough (v. 7), but not so much as to free us from dependence on Him. The secret to managing this tension is guarding the focus of our call, which is Christ alone. When we make our calling about us, we swing between insecurity and pride; between fears about our insufficiency, and a greedy clamoring for fame. But when we remember our calling is about Christ, both our inabilities and abilities are granted an appropriate amount of weight.

We see this balance in the building of the tabernacle: skilled workers, equipped with enough, relying on God for the rest of the vision, and doing it all for the glory of God. They had what they needed, but they never stopped needing God. Our own callings should look the same. We can step into God’s purpose, radiating confidence, while humbly pointing others to the source of it: our all-sufficient Savior.


Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, mom, and she holds a PhD on women and calling. She blogs at SheWorships.com, and is the author of Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You.

  • Leslie Limardo

    This was really encouraging. I’ve used that first phrase myself but sometimes but didn’t understand it against myself. I am trained in what I’m supposed to don’t feel ill-equipped. However I did/do rely on Holy Spirit for my messages, my speaking, asking Him to show me who needs help. Thanks for making that distinction. You can be well equipped and trained and rely on Holy Spirit.

  • Peony Noirr


  • Moses may have been trained to be a leader, but he was not confident that he could be one. I am much like him, unsure of what to tell people and whether they will listen to me, hoping that someone more qualified will be chosen for the task rather than me. Sometimes it’s not easy to step into a calling, but once we do the results are nothing short of amazing ;)

  • JoAnne Hart

    This was very encouraging to me today. I fully believe that the gifts God gave us are for his purposes and that while he calls us to do things beyond us, it’s not random. We were created with such specific talents for the purposes he has for us. And our dreams exist for a reason. And if they don’t require divine intervention, they probably aren’t big enough. This was just really wonderful to read today as I’m going through the time of life where I’m transitioning into actually doing what I’m passionate about rather than just dreaming about it and while I’m qualified, I still feel inadequate. But God is good and I know he’s leading me into his purposes for my life.

  • YvonneBonnie Delgado

    So many times I felt God point me in a certain direction and it felt great with my new found abilities, but when I stopped looking to him it became a struggle to get things done. Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace and never leaving nor forsaken me!

  • YvonneBonnie Delgado

    Wow, this is really speaking to my heart. So many times I heard God pointing me in a certain direction and it’s feels right until I take my eyes off him and all of a sudden the abilities I had seem so difficult at use. Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace and never leaving nor forsaking me.

  • Marie Brown

    Loved the reading this week. When I first read about the Tabernacle, I thought it was boring, but now I can see how it relates to life in general. Fascinating and uplifting.

    • Rhonda

      Agreed! It’s amazing of how reading it on your own, it’s easy to just give up or skip over with out seeing it’s relevance! I love how this study has made me absorb Exodus in a whole new way!

  • Amy Daily

    Reading all three of these passages together- it is all Jesus! All the gospel! The imperfect picture of the heavenly reality- created by human hands with God‘s direction… showing the eternal reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the heavens and the sacrifice and our redemption- love.

  • I often wonder too, what’s my calling, shouldn’t I be doing more….something that brings lots of Glory to God, and everyone knows it!!! BUT, you know what, maybe it is in the simple things that I AM doing, like being a Godly wife, raising my child up in a loving home and being an example to him, telling my grand-kids about Jesus. Being helpful when I can, just smiling at people through out the day. It doesn’t seem like I am doing anything BIG, but maybe this is just where I am meant to be right now. Grow where you are planted, even if it doesn’t seem like you are doing big things for God, do your best, and make the best you. And maybe he will use me for something else BIG, if not, I will continue to make the little things in my life count!

    • Deborah Craytor

      That’s a great approach, Rhonda!

    • Bessie

      Rhonda, I feel exactly the same way. Thank you for putting words to it. I try to be faithful to what God has given me to do and to keep alert to what He may call me to do along the way.

  • Kristin L

    Wow, I need to spend time soaking in these last two paragraphs. Thank you for challenging us in these truths.

  • Thank you for this today, I constantly question my motives, “am I doing this for my glory or His?”

  • Kate Wells

    Wow!! What a powerful truth. I so often get caught up in the day dreaming about what Gods calling for my life will look like. What will I look like to myself and to other people. Will I receive recognition for it. And it’s insidious how those thoughts creep into your mind. When it is all about God, it always has been all about him. The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. My gifts come from you Lord and are for you. I lay everyone of them at your feet today Lord and humbly as that you use them and my life to serve you. In Jesus name, Amen.

  • Ronda Slay

    @Sharon Hodde Miller … such good stuff! Thank you.
    I’m about 5 years into retirement after 33 years of giving myself to caring for people with cancer “like I would want me momma cared for”, as my life Calling. After enjoying the initial down time and getting through some health issues, all the while wondering what God has for the next chapter of my life, these words are encouraging, edifying and confirmation …. the focus of our Call is CHRIST Alone.
    “Skilled. Equipped with enough. Relying on God for the rest of the vision. Doing it all for the glory of God. Our All-Sufficient Savior!”

    • Rhonda

      Wow…33 years of caring for other people, in their most vulnerable state….what a gift!! Congratulations on your retirement, and thank you for caring for those in need!

  • The ESV translations for these verses for me were very confusing. I encourage reading in Holman or many of the other translations for a clarification that meets your understanding.

  • Lois Wilson

    It’s all about Christ and about pointing others toward Him. I really needed this today. Thank you!

  • Karen Mendez

    One of favorite readings so far ❣️

  • Thank you for this today! I’ve been having those exact swings between insufficiency and arrogance and I keep thinking maybe I should just change my career. I feel called to do more. But there’s no reason I can’t use this calling for Christ and keep that in mind as I help students. I may not feel like I’m being of service, but helping people definitely does count. If I refocus my job as a call that isn’t about ME, then it’s OK that sometimes it all feels too hard. This is still the skill set I’ve been given, and God will provide the direction.

  • I pray that I will cross the border to step into God’s purpose every day for my life. To pray to God that I will be purpose driven daily and reliant on Him for fulfilling that prupose.

  • Carole Cannon

    Does anyone else love the pictures? This is way more than the first time I have studied Exodus – these diagrams are great! I am a visual learner so it has put more perspective on the different things. Thanks She Reads Truth Team for these!!

  • Done!

  • I am currently a senior in high school and waiting on college decisions, many of which come out this week. I feel very called towards a certain school, but continue to doubt that I have the abilities to be admitted. I would greatly appreciate any and all prayers to help me feel secure in the knowledge that, whatever comes out of this season, God has granted me the capabilities to carry out His plan for me.

    • Cindy

      God will lead you to the place you need to go. However always remember, if the place you go to doesn’t seem to fit, transfer. I told my children, if God hadn’t meant for you to change your mind, he would not have let man invent a transfer slip. Best of luck as you enter this season of your life.

    • Kerry

      My daughter is waiting on a big scholarship notification for a school she feels is perfect. We are hoping to hear any day, so I know firsthand the stress you’re under. What I keep telling my daughter and what I hope is sinking in, is that there is a plan for her, and it’s good. Trusting in the goodness of God and where He’s leading is the key to rest. (Believe me, I’m preaching to myself!) Best of luck to you!

    • She Reads Truth

      We’re praying for you – for patience and encouragement during this time. We’re so grateful that you’re here! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Neely

      Hi LG, I am a junior in college and I remember exactly how you are feeling. It is a very stressful time because you feel like it’s a decision that will change your life forever. Let me let you in on a secret… God knows where you’re going and where you’re going after that! It’s so hard to believe but I have seen it first hand through my college experience and I promise that whatever happens, he’s got your back. I will be praying for you and for a peace in your decision in these next coming weeks. Just trust in him and it will all be okay!

  • Jessica McCreary

    Grateful for this reminder!!! ❤️❤️

  • Churchmouse

    Jesus “removed sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” One and done.

  • I had always thought that Bezalel and Oholiab were unskilled in what God was asking them to do? It seems like their appointment to the job in Exodus 35 indicates they were filled with ability in every craft they would need to accomplish? So by the time we get to Exodus 36, they are indeed skilled, but only because they were given God’s spirit? It is cool that they were used by God in this way and got their names recorded in Scripture. What an honor!!

    • Bee

      This is how I read it too.

    • Bessie

      I’m not sure you will see this, Debi, but I was reading that it is believed that Bezalel is the grandson of Hur. Hur was one of the two men who held Moses’ arms up during the battle. Hur, it is believed, was the husband of Miriam. I thought that was interesting.

  • Adrienna Purdy

    My husband and I have recently taken a step forward to become foster parents. We truly believe we are called to this, however, we find ourselves thinking about our own skills (and lack of) in this area. This is a beautiful reminder of where our calling comes from and who will provide what we need to live it out.

    • Kara

      I’m so excited that you are answering this call! My husband and I fostered for 10 years until we adopted our 2 amazing kiddos through fostering last summer. It is not an easy calling, but I can truly say that God gave me peace that surpassed my understanding regularly and I can’t fathom what our lives would be like if we hadn’t answered His call!

    • She Reads Truth

      We’re praying for you and your husband during this time and the steps ahead! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Holly Andler

      Like she said in the reading that that statement is true and false. The foster care journey is something we definitely felt called too but needed and still need lots of teaching, mentoring, experiences, etc. However, showing and sharing God’s love is something only God can equip you to do. So, don’t be too hard on yourself because God will fill in the blanks for a lot of the journey but do as much prep work as possible. Read books, find a seasoned foster family to buddy up with, ask lots of questions, and let go of expectations. Its a wild ride!

  • I’m a teacher and so is my husband. A random person yesterday said we were saints! I quickly said no we’re not but stopped short of giving glory to God in an authentic way. I want to be able to give God glory for the calling and work he has given us.

  • Thank you for this whole series. Through the whole thing I often read the passages in Exodus and think, “what will be pulled out of this today” And it is always relevant and unexpected and true and life giving. Thank you for taking tough, at times tedious to read passages and pointing us to Christ! Happy Monday ladies!

  • Thank you so much for this lesson. Sometimes I forget that although God may have blessed me with a talent or gift, He does not expect me to use it on my own but to rely on Him to work through me using that talent. It is a good reminder to take our focus off self and rely on the One who can work through us.

  • Rebecca Leek

    I have a performance coming up for a care home. As I practice I think to myself this is for God’s glory; sharing our God given musical skill with people who need some joy in their lives. I focus on showing God’s love for them through the music. When I do that, I have noticed I play better! I really do! I stop feeling nervous or any kind of self judgment and the music comes easily.

    • Natalie Mann

      That is beautiful Rebecca!

    • Willonda

      Rebecca, same here. I am apart of a praise team and sometimes I focus on getting this note right or how I look or a variety of things that do not matter. But I have found that when I focus on Jesus, all words are sung right and I don’t care how I look while I’m praising Him.

    • Emily Sheaffer

      Rebecca, I can totally relate. I am a pianist and I find when I spend the time leading up to playing worshipping God my abilities and talents flow out of me then when I try to handle the nerves on my own. It’s about worshipping Him alone and when I enter that time already worshipping God is able to use me to show His love to others

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