Set Apart But Connected

Old Testament Reading: Numbers 7-9
Psalms Reading: Psalm 63
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 16

Today’s Old Testament reading takes us to Numbers 7-9 where we see the LORD speaking to Moses laying out some specific plans he has for how they are to live, worship, and remember Him.  Around 70% of the Bible contains the Old Testament, and it seems that the more I study the Bible, I continue to be struck how much the Old Testament foundation is integral to appreciating things that come later in the New Testament.  I definitely find that to be the case in today’s chapters.

Starting in Numbers 7:1, we find Moses at work,

“When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils.”

So, we have a good “churchy” word here in bold, and while I undoubtedly could have spelled it in third grade (spelling bees were my thing back in the day!), I realized I wanted to research a little more because if you asked me to define it today, I’d  start with “kinda like. . .umm. . .”, and this word comes up a lot in this passage!

Consulting my exhaustive concordance and Bible dictionaries, I see that simply put,

consecrated = set apart

In Numbers 7 we see a tabernacle set apart, offerings to the LORD set apart, and in Numbers 8, Levite priests set apart. In Numbers 9 the trend continues with instruction to keep days set apart for Passover. Interestingly, these days are specifically remembering the time when the LORD set his people apart from the Egyptians.

The Old Testament stands apart from the New Testament separated by ~400 years of history. Yet, they are extremely connected. The Israelites were instructed to be set apart from the world that surrounded them, yet connected to the LORD. The being set apart idea doesn’t stop in Numbers or the Old Testament, but continues as instruction for all of us as followers of Christ today. In fact, the idea of a consecreated, set apart people continues until the very end of Revelation.

Our reading today ends in Numbers 9 with a beautiful picture of the LORD’s consecrated people being set apart and relying on His leading. How many people can say they followed a cloud that appeared like a fire by night, and if the cloud descended they stayed/camped, and if it ascended, they went out? This certainly wasn’t a practice of the world around them, and I don’t know anyone today who camps that way.  Instead, Numbers 9:15-23 shows a unique, called-out, set-apart experience of obedience to our sovereign LORD. One that required patience and was beyond their understanding (check out the casual mention of waiting for the cloud to move for a year in verse 22!). 

Wouldn’t our lives be so much better if we trusted God more, followed His leading, and invested our energies in being wholly His.  We would look set apart and we should look set apart, and we need the practice because one day it will be essential to be set apart when the Tabernacle described in Revelation comes on the scene!

“At the command of the LORD the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the LORD they would camp, as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped.”  (Numbers 9:18)

-Jennifer Hall

Reflection Questions

  1. Are you set apart from the world? If so, how? Do you think God would like to see you more set apart than you are now? What might that look like? What would it require?
  2. Are you connected to the LORD? If so, how? Do you think God would like to see you more connected to Him than you are now? What might that look like? What would it require?
  3. How do you see God in your reading of the Scriptures today? What would you have missed if you hadn’t read His words today?

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