Chapters 25 to 30 of Exodus tell in wondrous detail how God unfolded to Moses on Mount Sinai the pattern of the tabernacle, which was to serve Israel for worship for 300 years. Then in chapter 31 follow the names of the divinely selected team who were to superintend the construction of the tabernacle and all its equipment, and here we note afresh how repeatedly in Holy Scripture the names of people and places are suggestive of their character. So it is with the leader of this band. His name, Bezaleel, means “in the shadow of God”, and one cannot resist the thought that, over and above Bezaleel’s manual craftsmanship, immeasurably enriched as it was to be by the Holy Spirit, God chose him as a man who, as to his inner life, dwelt “in the shadow of God”.
In the service of God neither physical nor intellectual ability is of any avail without abiding inward nearness to God. Bezaleel dwelt in the shadow of God. We may not actually see a person in whose shadow we are, but if we are in their shadow, they cannot be far away. So it was, it would seem, with Bezaleel. He was close to his God, and his God to him, and no doubt he owed his master-craftsmanship in no small measure to this habit of his life. He would bring from that secret communion the quietude of spirit, the happy confidence and the steady hand, which enabled him to oversee the completion of that building, which Israel used as a centre of worship for centuries, and which has been to the people of God for over three thousand years the supreme type of Christ and salvation.
Bezaleel’s experience was certainly not the unique privilege of this one man of God of long ago, but may be the constant blessing of all of us who belong to Christ today. Among other precious scriptures which speak of the shadow of God, Isaiah prophesied, “a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land”, 32. 2. How vivid to inhabitants of hot countries so much nearer to the equator than ours is this illustration of the preciousness of a shady place out of the burning heat of the sun. Those who have visited ancient eastern cities (such as the old city of Jerusalem) will recall the welcome shade provided by the very narrowness of their crooked streets. But Isaiah speaks of a man who is to be the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, and we know that Man is Christ, the Rock of Ages. In His shadow we find blessed rest and refreshment from the burden and heat of the day.
Again, Psalm 57. 1 says “in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast”. Here the thought is not that of cool shelter from a burning sun, but of protection in tribulation or danger. Many of us will remember how precious such a refuge was in times of great danger during the second world war. Under the wings of our God we were secure, as Psalm 91. 1 also says.
Then the Song of Solomon speaks of the joy to be found in God’s shadow. “I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste”, 2. 3. There is no joy on earth as great as that which the child of God experiences again and again in the secret place of the shadow of God, as he ponders over the precious Word of God and draws nigh to Him in prayer.
In these times of turmoil and clamour, as the world rushes on in increasing speed to the final climax, let us constantly dwell in His shadow, where we may continually find rest and refreshment from the hostile atmosphere around us, a refuge in danger or trial, and all the joy of the sweetness of Christ.