The art of dropping science

“He made the veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twisted linen; with cherubim skillfully worked into it he made it.” Exodus 36:35

Bezalel oversaw the craftsmanship of God’s tabernacle. This was a matter of science and art. His intelligence of material—whether it be precious metal or fine fabric—was the foundation of his creative skill—whether it be shaping furniture or hammering gold. Or weaving fantastic creatures into the veil, as we have here.

Passing over the mind-expanding symbolism of cherubim guarding the way to God’s presence, we must pause on these emphatic words: “skillfully worked into it”. Here was excellence. Here was wisdom. And here was hard work.

Do you suppose it mattered to the priests what these cherubim looked like? Before this veil they ministered day and night. They spent their lives in this physical revelation of God and his ways. Were the tabernacle thrown together haphazardly, there would be a confusion of signals. Was God worthy of all excellence, or (since God is spirit), were outward matters of no importance? Certainly excellence was important, because God gave Bezalel gifts to make it so. The likeness of these heavenly creatures woven upon the veil would have been majestic, and would have served the faith of the priests.

This principle of excellence translates very well to our technological age. There is something in it to be used for God’s glory. We have the truth; let us present it as best we can, with skill. Our social media, websites, and all that may advance the cause of Christ in a digital age, is to be done with craftsmanship. Our books should bear skillfully designed covers that entice readers to wonder at the awesome theme and peak within. Is this manipulation? No, this is casting truth in its proper light.

This principle applies even to the invisible aspects of life. Take, for instance, the matter of speech. How we form our words matters, for “sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” (Proverbs 16:21). This sweetness of speech is more art than science. In fact, the art of sweetness (think, perhaps, of what we call charm) serves the science of truth, for it increases its effect, and clears the way for its reception. We do not rely on the skill of sweetness to persuade people—the skill presents the truth in clearer light, allowing it to work by its own merit more freely. What could shroud the good news more than harshness of speech?

So whether we are weaving cherubim like Bezalel, or designing websites, or talking doctrine, may God’s people do so with skill and excellence, and with art, that God may be praised through his truth.