Have you ever thought about your life as a sacrifice to God? When I see how the Levites were cleansed and given before God as a wave offering in verse 13, it makes me want to be the same way before God. Imagine being born into the tribe of Levi and knowing what your purpose is. Your purpose was to grow up, study the job of your calling, study the scriptures, live a righteous life, and eventually serve God for 25 years. But really, how different are any of our lives from that? Can we not have the same basic path? Can we not come to faith, prepare ourselves through study, serve God in our lives, and present ourselves as offerings before God? People give their lives to all sorts of things. Many people choose to make their lives about the pursuit of a career, the growing of a family, the building of a legacy, etc. As the book of Ecclesiastes teaches, life’s meaning comes from following God and keeping His commandments. There is nothing else that we can pursue which gives us meaning and when I read how the Levites were given into the service of God I am reminded of this. I’m not saying everyone must be a pastor or anything like that because serving the LORD comes in many fashions, but we all need to put our life before God as a wave offering. Nothing sounds more appealing to me than being purified before the LORD and serving Him as we see in 8:21. Through Christ, we can all be purified and serve God with the entirety of our lives.
As we move into chapter 9, there is a question that comes up about observing Passover and being unclean. We find the answer in verse 9:10-14. To me, there is a personal aspect that comes out of the beginning of this chapter. I see real people seeking to live out God’s word. These people wanted so badly to correctly follow God that they asked questions about seeking the desire of God. I think there is a lesson to be learned from the attitude of these followers: be open and real with God in all things. Open up and ask questions, seek His desire, and listen to His response. Today, I think we should learn to posture ourselves more like this before God. He is real and willing to interact with His people and give us wisdom. Sometimes we think that the time for God to interact with His people has passed, even if we don’t believe that, sometimes we act like that is the truth.
Verses 15-16 are an awesome manifestation of God among His people. His presence was continuous around the Tabernacle. Try to imagine the scene in your head. Imagine you are camping with the Israelites. In the middle of the night you walk out of your tent and in the distance, there is the warm glow, looking like fire, surrounding the Tabernacle in the distance. Have you ever seen a big fire from a distance? The warm glow that casts against the clouds in the sky. Imagine that scene every night, knowing that God is here, living among you, watching over you, and showing you His power. Don’t be so fast to read over verses, use your imagination and try to put yourself in the landscape. Imagine the smells, sights, and sounds that would have been observed by the people in the book. This practice brings the Bible to life for us, especially in the book of Numbers, where there are a lot of mind blowing events that take place. Numbers is a hot bed for God’s power manifested like no other time in history. Take your time reading these words and putting yourself in the shoes of the people. It would have been an awesome time to be alive and to witness God working in miraculous ways.
Another point we see in chapter 9 is just how literally God leads His people through the wilderness. When He moved, they moved. God still wants to lead His people today. It might not be a cloud of smoke or fire, literally leading us to the place we need to go, but through prayer and faith He can lead us to great places He has prepared for us. We should be people like those in 9:23. “At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out; they kept the LORD’s charge, according to the command of the LORD through Moses.” When God moves, we should move. When God stays, we should stay. He is leading us to things prepared for us that we can’t see or imagine, but if we follow faithfully, we will be glad we did.
Here’s an intriguing thought. Let’s say you had no modern-day technology – how would you communicate and organize roughly 2.5 million people? Seems like an overwhelming task to me. The system that God put into place at the beginning of chapter 10 is genius. I’m not surprised God came up with such a good system, but none the less, I’m impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness. Now that all the pieces are in place, the tabernacle, the camp organization, the communication system, and the leading system, it is the time to set out for the promise land. The first move was from Sinai to Paran and took three days (10:11-13, 33). We see the organization it took to move millions of people across the desert in verses 14-28. Then come some of the coolest words in the book of Numbers “35 Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, ‘Rise up, O Lord! And let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You.’ 36 When it came to rest, he said, ‘Return, O Lord, To the myriad thousands of Israel.’” The protection of the LORD went before them and watched over them in their journey, clearing the path of any obstacles that would stop them from reaching the promise land. God is for His people. I can’t explain how these verses make me feel, but I know that it’s awesome. I love seeing how God extends His arm to deal in the lives of His people. Even though seeing a cloud move might be more obvious, God still extends His arm to deal in the lives of His people today. Take some time to think about the prayers you have prayed. How have they been answered? This is God working in your life. I have seen people changed and situations work out in unusual ways. At some point, you have to stop saying things are coincidence and say that God is working in His people. The same powerful God we see in Numbers is the same God who deals with us today. Don’t forget, the God who liberated millions of people from Egypt is the same God who seeks your heart.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+8-10&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 11-13 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan