A lot of us according to our personalities will separate aspects of ministry into either functional or utilitarian categories and then in the corner there is an artistic or beautiful box. What I mean is that we are made leaning more or less one way or another. For example, some can easily focus on well-planned sermons with a certain amount of bullet points, the right amount of jokes to get attention, and even a well-planned emotion grabbing statement at the end. All of this is for effect and there are books and universities that teach effective communication. We see numbers, an ordered service with smooth and expected transitions, and tradition that has always worked. Some of us see beauty and are pulled by it. Some of us hear the crescendos and decrescendos in the music and not only hear it, but feel it. Some of us feel at peace when the sanctuary is well decorated with well-placed floral arrangements or beautiful objects at the front for us to look upon while we worship.
Bezalel and Oholiab
1 Then the LORD said to Moses,
2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,
3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—
4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,
5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.
6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you:
7 the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent—
8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense,
9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand—
10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests,
An extraordinary amount of work had to be done and in certain order. God listed the exact measurements, materials, and location. What is incredible is that He also commanded that the best artisans be the ones to do the job. God called these two men Oholiab and Bezalel by name so that their importance would be shown as their memory would be preserved in the Bible for thousands of years.
Importance of Art.
Exodus 31:3-4a says that “God filled them with His Spirit with their ability for art and their craft.” God was gifting them with the knowledge and ability to complete their gifts. He was also giving His blessing and approval on the arts as a noble vocation. Art is worth pursuing with your time, money, talent just as other vocations are. God is also introduced to us in Scripture as an artist and creator Himself. Art is one way that we can flourish as human beings, created in the image of The Artist. God values truth and not just in the propositional or expositional method, but in truth sensed through artistic beauty and expression. The tabernacle needed to be functional, but it also needed to be artistically symbolic and beautiful. This is true not just in physical arts, but also in other areas including music. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy” He is issuing a summons to us to invest in the musical arts, all of us. This takes vocalists, musicians, technical support, songwriters, and a congregation that will not just observe, but should for joy.
Excellence in the Arts.
In Psalm 33:3 we are urged to “play skillfully”. How many of us practice our music, order of worship, sermon, children’s lesson and other areas, just until we are familiar or can play it correctly? What would it look like if we did it skillfully? In Exodus chapters 26-39 the word skilled is used as an adjective 22 times which shows that not all art is skilled or intelligent, but it is that type of art that God places value in.
Transcendance Through Art.
Sometimes the best art is not explicit in its message, some are symbolic. It might take some skill of the viewer to interpret, value, and appreciate it. In the book “Steve Jobs” pp. 424-25 there is a story about Steve Jobs inviting Yo-Yo Ma to play at his wedding, but he was not able and so he gave a private concert in Steve’s living room. He pulled out his 1733 Stradivarius cello, and played Bach. Jobs teared up and said, “You playing is the best argument I’ve ever heard for the existence of God, because I don’t really believe a human alone can do this.”
Whatever our vocation, lawyer, teacher, builder, physician, stay at home Mom, or work at a fast food restaurant, we are called to do our work with the same commitment to artistic excellence.
We at House of Worship technologies try to reach a level of excellence in our various skill sets as we work as a whole to give your church everything it needs to add to the artistic experience of your Church’s Worship service. Whether its lighting, sound equipment, training, recording, aesthetic installation, and anything else your church needs, we will strive to offer you the best.
This article was adapted from a sermon by Timothy Cooper, Pastor, Cornerstone Community Church.