Can you name some well-known Bible characters from the Tribe of Judah? You may think of David and Solomon and possibly their ancestors Boaz, Obed and Jesse. Hopefully you will think of the most significant offspring— “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5)—namely, Jesus Christ! In order to qualify as “King of the Jews” (Mt. 2:2), Jesus had to, of course, be a descendent of David, which He was through both Joseph (Mt. 1:1-16) and Mary (Lk. 3:23-31). But, there is another offspring of Judah who had a key role in the history of the Jewish people that is not as well known. He would be a good Bible character for a child to go as, to a church “Harvest Party” where you dress up and share your story and others have to guess your name. He was gifted by God to help build the Tabernacle. We read about him in Ex. 31:1-5: “Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.”
Bezalel may not be a name you can quickly recall from your memory bank, but he, with the empowering of the Holy Spirit and the gifts God granted him, definitely had a visible lasting impact on the place built representing God’s presence among His people, the tabernacle. Bezalel taught and supervised the other craftsmen, but when it came to the Ark of the Covenant, he himself did the work. Exodus 38 ends with an impressive list of the materials used, including more than a ton of gold, 3.75 tons of silver, and 2.5 tons of bronze. Every detail in that sacred building was for the praise of God’s glory. The altar and the mercy seat testified to His grace. The table of the showbread proclaimed His providence. The lampstand spread His light. But even the things that were not symbolic were for God. This is why the tabernacle was made so carefully, with such fine materials and elaborate decorations: it was all for the glory of God. And Bezalel was the artist whom God specially chose and equipped to make sure the tabernacle was an excellent, beautiful structure that would bring glory to God.
God also gifted a young man, Todd Berget, who grew up in our community of Libby, Montana. He went to college to become a teacher and coach and for many years taught and coached (football and wrestling) here in Libby. He ended up teaching the “Alternative School,” a group of high school students who who were very privileged to have Todd mentor them with his many artistic abilities. In addition to the core basics, the students got to learn welding and art and were responsible for many additions to beautify our community. Todd and his students painted large murals on store buildings all over town and also made and painted beautiful fish to hang on the fence near the school. They are visible as you drive through town on Highway 2. Todd loved the Lord and from that came a compassion for others, especially those who struggled in life. He has had an impact on hundreds of young people who have grown up in our community. As Tana Wilson wrote in a local paper (The Western News, Nov.1, 2019), “Todd saw the beauty in people and things that others often missed.”
Sadly, for his family, friends and our whole community, Todd left us last Monday, Oct. 28th for his home in heaven. Todd had battled health issues for a number of years and finally succumbed to them at age 54.
He will be greatly missed, but he left us many reminders of what he contributed to our community with the gifts God granted to him. In addition to the many murals, and fish on a fence, Todd, with his unique talent for metal working, crafted some 40 Bald Eagles with wingspans ranging from 8 to 40 feet! Many are on display around town as well as throughout the state of Montana. When you drive through Libby, you will see two very large eagles right along the highway. Because of Todd’s amazing craftsmanship—and generosity—our town became “The City of Eagles.”
Todd was also instrumental in starting a Sasquatch Festival in a beautiful nearby area, the Yaak (where his family had a cabin), next to Idaho and Canada. Large Sasquatches began showing up throughout Libby and surrounding area—thanks to Todd’s creative handiwork. One of them in the Yaak even had to be removed because it was scaring the wildlife!
As you drive through Libby on Highway 2, you may also notice a very large fishing pole erected over Flower Creek where it flows by Rosauer’s grocery store—again one of Todd Berget’s creations. His last year teaching the “Alternative School,” Todd also had his class design for our tennis courts a 14-foot tall racquet as a memorial to Richard Thompson who had built our courts and just resurfaced them before he passed away. We thoroughly enjoyed working with Todd to build, erect and paint the racket, which is located at the Libby Community Tennis Courts just a couple blocks off the highway. Once again, Todd did an amazing job. Todd loved to do anything that would improve the appearance of our community and make it a special place for people to live and visit. In addition to the Sasquatch silhouettes, Todd also had the idea of making large wind chimes to hang under the old “haul bridge” over the Kootenai River. The bridge is now a walking and bike path and a beautiful place to view wildlife and the Kootenai and get some exercise, and if the wind is blowing, to hear the bridge “making music.”
Todd also loved to take old handsaws and cut them to make forest and wildlife scenes. If you took him two old saws, he would cut one for you for free. His most recent—yet unfinished—project was a giant metal sculpture of a grizzly bear. Hopefully his friend from Alaska who had been helping on the project will be able to finish it for him.
Needless to say, Todd Berget left his “big footprints” all over our community and state. Yes, Todd was a physically big man, too—quite an imposing figure, especially when he appeared as Sasquatch for the festival in the Yaak. Todd had a great love for others and for the place he lived. He used his giftedness and passion to minister to others and to beautify the place he lived. Todd, we will miss you. Maybe when we get to heaven we will see some Bald Eagle sculptures and Sasquatches decorating the streets of gold and the pearly gates of the city!
Our Lord Jesus Christ has given each of us special talents and abilities to use for His glory, as well as spiritual gifts (if we are believers) for service in and through the church. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit..to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (I Cor. 12: 4,7). How are you using your talents and gifts? What kind of impact are you having on your community, your church, and on individuals? What kind of legacy will you leave behind when God calls you home?