When reading through the book of Numbers sometimes it can be difficult to see how we can apply those passages to our lives. The Bible however is always relevant. There are no extra parts, but rather God has given us exactly what we need. Every part of the Bible is relevant and is needed for us and to understand the complete message that God has given us.
In the book of Numbers, in Chapters 3 and 4, after the end of the census of the tribes of Israel, God gives Moses instructions concerning the Levites. The Levites were the special tribe set apart by God to perform the work of the tabernacle of Congregation.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle.” Numbers 3: 5-7
What follows is a list of each of the major family groups within the tribe of Levi and their responsibilities.
“And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari.”
Each of these family heads were given a place of dwelling around the Tabernacle, but also a responsibility.
"And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof." Numbers 3: 25-26
"And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof." Numbers 3:31
"And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto, And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords." Numbers 3:36-37
And yes even:
Moses and Aaron
"But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." Numbers 3:38
If you can imagine for a moment the enormous undertaking of caring for the Tabernacle. The assembly and disassembly surely must have been a marvelous sight to see. Once erected the care for the Tabernacle was of utmost importance. Every item had its place. The offerings that would be offered must follow specific rules. Any misstep could mean losing one’s life as Nadab and Abihu found out. Although the males within a certain age bracket are listed on the ‘official’ roles for the service of the Tabernacle; every member of each family would play a part in accomplishing the task. The flock had to be tended to, the houses had to be in order, every family member would be laboring so that their loved one was free to serve and ultimately the Tabernacle would be in order. The entire lives of the children of Israel would be concerned for the Tabernacle which manifested the dwelling presence of the LORD.
What is it that we can learn from this? Might I suggest a few things:
1. God desires for us to accomplish His work in a particular way. Our God is a God of order.
When Titus was sent by Paul to Crete, Paul exhorted him with this duty:
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:" Titus 1:5
You and I should always be measuring our service to the Lord with God’s Word. In other words, we should be accomplishing the work of the ministry ‘decently and in order,’
(1 Corinthians 14:40) but according to His order.
2. God’s work is a magnificent work and should not be taken lightly.
As was stated earlier, even a casual reading of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, will show how specific and magnificent the work was in the service, erection, and fashioning of the Tabernacle. God’s work is magnificent and wonderful and should be approached with great reverence and fear. We are ambassadors for the King of Kings and the Lord or Lords.
(2 Corinthians 5:20, Revelation 17:4) What a high and holy calling that God has allowed us serve Him! Let us not diminish the work of the Lord by halfway effort.
3. God has specific tasks that must be accomplished by each person.
What would happen if Aaron decided not to show up one day? The morning offering would be thrust onto one of his sons. Pray-fully that son would be prepared for the task because the work must go on. The morning and evening offering was to be a perpetual ordinance for the children of Israel. One improper approach to God would result in disaster. (Leviticus 10:1) What if the sons of Kohath decided they were done carrying the Ark of the Covenant; they determined it was just too heavy of a load to carry? Would God allow someone else to touch the Ark? Maybe we could ask Uzzah? (2 Samuel 6:6)
We all have specific tasks to be accomplished at Sharon Baptist Church. The work must go on for the glory of the King!
4. God has different tasks for each person.
God has given to each one of us different works to be accomplished. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Just as the children of Kohath, the children of Merari and the children of Gershom had differing responsibilities, so you and I have individual tasks to complete. There are commissions that are universal to every Christian (Soul-Winning, Prayer, Bible study, going to church, living separated holy lives, etc.…), but there are also individual specific tasks for us to complete.
5. God’s work will be accomplished the best when all of God’s people are engaged in the work.
Paul in the New Testament gives us the picture of the church as a functioning body. As such, we are the body of Christ. Since the body is tempered together proportionately and every part has a purpose; the body will best function when all of the parts are working together.
"And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another."
1 Corinthians 12: 19-25
6. God’s ways are higher than our ways; His work is not like anything else on earth.
"Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Psalm 40:5
The work of the Tabernacle was different from all the surrounding heathen nations and their ‘religious’ exercises. Jesus’ finished work on the cross was unique and never can or will be repeated. Likewise, the work of the local New Testament church, God working through men by the Holy Spirit, is unlike anything else on earth man could possibly come up with. His plan of redemption will be the subject of worship for all of eternity.
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7
7. God has blessed us with a great privilege to serve Him and be close to Him.
"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 2 Corinthians 6:16
This example we see in the Old Testament ordering of the Tabernacle gives us understanding of how God expects us to be about His work whereunto he has called us. May God gives us understanding of where we fit in this local New Testament church. May we not be deficient to the call of God and may our laboring be acceptable to Him.
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
Showing People the Way to God
- Personal Evangelism
$3 plus Shipping