Day 36

Building the Tabernacle

from the Exodus reading plan

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

BY Sharon Hodde Miller

“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 fish, 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.

Post Comments (39)

39 thoughts on "Building the Tabernacle"

  1. Nitz . says:


  2. Lynn Kimball says:


  3. Portia Strange says:

    I love how Exodus 36:2 says, ‘And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose hearts stirred him up TO COME TO DO THE WORK’ (emphases mine). When the Lord gives us skills, He is the One that has to stir our hearts to actually DO THE WORK. If we’re DOING THE WORK, praise God for His grace in stirring our hearts to do so and for giving us the opportunity. If we refuse to DO THE WORK, God grant us grace in stirring our hearts to get to it OR to get back to it when (not if) You give us the opportunity again.
    I wonder what these craftsmen did in Egypt. Did they build intricate temples of worship there? Did the architecture of Egypt reflect their labor and skill? Or were they delegated to just make bricks with no straw like all the other Israelites (Exodus 5:7-8)? If so, they weren’t able to utilize their God-given skill, intelligence, knowledge, and craftsmanship (Exodus 35:31) until they were where God wanted them to be.

  4. kimmie says:

    I seriously need to remember this everyday at school. I’m there to help kids but it’s God….not me.

    1. Angelica Baldwin says:

      Amen, this was a great reminder for me.

  5. Emilee says:

    I needed this reminder today as I head back to school and prepare for the year ahead. He has equipped me, the areas I struggle are areas that I need to practice relying on Him.

  6. Terri Baldwin says:

    We always need God each and every day!

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