Over the last four years I have done a lot of moving. I’ve moved from an apartment, to a house, to a trailer, back to a house, to my in-laws, and now to my home. Not to mention, I have helped plenty of others move during this time. Despite my many moving back aches and cardboard box forts, I’ve experienced nothing in the moving department compared to the Levites in chapter 3-4 of Numbers. These chapters are dedicated instructions for the Levites about how to live around and move the Tabernacle.
A portion of the third chapter is dedicated to uncomplicated, yet purposeful counting of all the male sons of the Levites a month or older. Remember the Passover in Egypt where God spared the first born sons of Israel while passing judgement over the rest of Egypt’s first born sons? In Numbers 3, we see God take the first born of Israel not to death, but to holiness. Numbers 3:13 says that God is making the Levites “sanctified” to Himself. This word sanctified means to make holy. Instead of killing the first born sons of Israel, God uses them to be mediators between Him and the Israelites. Does this sound like any other first born son to you? Jesus is now the first born son that acts as a mediator between us and God. It is so cool to me that the number of Levite males a month or older and the number of first born sons in Israel are almost the exact same number. God sees the males of the Levites being the ransom in place of the first born sons of Israel. In Numbers 3:39, the number of Levite males comes out to 22,00 and in 3:43 the number of first born males is 22,273. I will draw your attention to the extra 273 first born sons which aren’t covered by the ransom of the sons of Levi. Instead of taking their lives, which is what they would deserve, God only requires the small price of 5 shekels per person. That comes out to a total of 1,365 shekels in exchange for the lives of 273 first born sons. I guess I was wrong in my last post when I joked about Numbers being a math text book. But really, the math should be done from this point on. The point is this: God would rather redeem people than kill people; God opts for mercy instead of judgment. This is just one of the great things about Him that makes Him a God worth worshiping.
Moving on to chapter 4 we again see the detailed and intentional nature of God through instructions He gives the Levites for the Tabernacle. Remember holiness is one of God’s main priorities when it comes to the Tabernacle. We are blissfully reading along in chapter 4, hearing about the job of the sons of Aaron….then we get to verse 15. Things get serious in verse 15. It becomes clear to us that the sons of Aaron took so much caution in covering all the holy objects in the Tabernacle so that when the sons of Kohath come to move the stuff they don’t die! Remember God’s holiness is serious. All it would take for an unclean person to die is to touch a holy object. It doesn’t sound like a simple list of instructions anymore; this is a life or death situation. I thought I had it rough when I had to take the legs off my couch to fit it through the door but at least I wouldn’t die if I accidentally touched it! I like to look at verses 5-20 as the “how not to die when moving the Tabernacle” verses. If you were a son of Kohath, in charge of carrying one of the holy objects, you would be thankful that one of the sons of Aaron did their job well.
Reading though chapter 4 and hearing how the jobs of these different people are broken down reminds me of the body of Christ. We have different positions and skills which allow us to come together and work for God. Moving the Tabernacle in a holy and dignified way was no easy task, so too is serving God and His son, Jesus. It takes a team effort with everyone pitching in to make it a success.
Reading this also gave me another idea. Maybe we should only ask people between the ages of 30-50 to help us move. I should have quoted Numbers 4:3 to all the people who have asked me to move over the years. But in all seriousness, there is one big take away that I see from Numbers chapter 4; it is a lesson taught all over the Old Testament. Keeping God’s holiness and His people being holy are top priorities. We need to be holy as God is holy (Lev. 19:2). That is a direct command from God to us. We see this in how God treats even the moving of the Tabernacle. Holiness is key. When God was setting up the nation of Israel He wanted to make sure that they were going to stay separate from the world, separate from their idol worshiping neighbors. All the laws and rules are supposed to help them stay righteous and holy. Of course, we know that this is an impossible task for us to do on our own. Thankfully, we have a God who understands us and knows that we need help. This is why all of history, all of God’s plans, even back in Numbers with the counting of some Jewish men, was leading to the revealing of Jesus. Don’t think for a second that we are redeemed by accident. God was working out the world to be in such a way that you now, reading this post, have the option to be redeemed and righteous. We might be tempted to skip these boring chapters of the Bible where all we do is read about how many 30-50 year olds were in the household of Gershon, but we would miss out on watching God reveal his plans. Seeing God act with such intentional detail reminds me that God is not too big to deal with our everyday highs and lows. God works in the details of our lives today, just as He did in the lives of the Levites moving the tabernacle.
Josiah & Amber Cain
Today’s passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+3-4&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s passage will be Numbers 5-6 as we continue our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan