Exodus 35:35  [The LORD] has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers – all of them master craftsmen and designers.

What a wonderful reminder this is to us that ALL our skills and abilities are GIFTS from the God who made us ‘in his image and likeness’ and are therefore to be used ALWAYS for HIS work and glory.

The word ‘talent’ has come into our language from Jesus’ parable of the ‘talents’ (Matthew 25:14-30), which emphasises this truth clearly, but sadly ‘talent’ has come to mean some ability of which we can feel proud as if WE are the SOURCE of it!  As I read through these chapters of Exodus I can’t help but be amazed at what a large group of assorted, nomadic refugees in a ‘desert wilderness’ could achieve in the construction of a glorious, complex Tabernacle as a centre for worship.  But today’s verse reminds me that it was not a HUMAN achievement, but a DIVINE work carried out through the actions of willing, obedient servants of the living GOD.

The portable TABERNACLE was eventually replaced by Solomon’s impressive stationary TEMPLE in Jerusalem (again the work of GOD for HIS glory), and then by rebuilt versions under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Herod, until it was finally (and permanently) replaced by the LIVING TEMPLE, the CHURCH, which Jesus continues to build, and against which not even the ‘gates of hell’ can ever prevail (Matthew 16:18)!  As the Apostle Paul reminds us: “We are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

We are seeing these Biblical truths being fulfilled so clearly in these difficult days, so let us never forget: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this NOT FROM YOURSELVES, it is the GIFT of God – not by works, so that NO-ONE can boast.  For we are GOD’S WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which GOD prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10); and let us, in WHATEVER we do, “do it ALL for the GLORY OF GOD.” (1 Corinthians 10:31), recognising that ‘every virtue we possess, and every victory won, and every thought of holiness are HIS [the Holy Spirit’s] alone.” (Harriet Auber).  “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER through him.” (Colossians 3:17).