taking extra precautions

marmsky January 2018 (19)devotional post # 2266

Numbers 4:1-6

Num 4:1 Yahveh spoke to Moses and Aaron, and this is what he said,
Num 4:2 “Take a census of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their clans and their fathers’ houses,
Num 4:3 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, all who can come on duty, to do the work in the conference tent.
Num 4:4 This is the service of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting: the most holy things.
Num 4:5 When the camp is to set out, Aaron and his sons will go in and take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it.
Num 4:6 Then they will put on it a covering of goatskin and spread on top of that a cloth all of blue, and shall put in its poles.

taking extra precautions

What strikes me as I read these words again is that the Levites are a special forces army charged with protecting the things of God, but also with protecting the people from God. They had to be young men in the prime of life. They had to take extra precautions with the most holy objects — like the ark, which had to have a triple layer of protection.

LORD, we give you our best because we know your holiness, and we choose to respect your ministry, being mindful of your power.

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costly free redemption

marmsky January 2018 (18)devotional post # 2265

Numbers 3:44-51

Num 3:44 And Yahveh spoke to Moses, and this is what he said,
Num 3:45 “Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle. The Levites will be mine: I am Yahveh.
Num 3:46 And as the redemption price for the 273 of the firstborn of the sons of Israel, over and above the number of the male Levites,
Num 3:47 you will take five shekels per head; you will take them according to the shekel of the sanctuary (that shekel being twenty gerahs),
Num 3:48 and give the money to Aaron and his sons as the redemption price for those who are over.”
Num 3:49 So Moses took the redemption money from those who were over and above those redeemed by the Levites.
Num 3:50 From the firstborn of the sons of Israel he took the money, 1,365 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary.
Num 3:51 And Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, according to the word of Yahveh, as Yahveh commanded Moses.

costly free redemption

There were more firstborn males in Israel than there were Levites to stand in their place. So, the LORD demanded a redemption price for each of the firstborn males who was not replaced by a Levite. The redemption was free, but the service and worship to follow it was obligatory. The reasons is that the “free” redemption cost the LORD dearly. It was his firstborn son who purchased the redemption of which the Egyptian rescue was but a shadow.

LORD, thank you for the price you paid for our redemption. Make us into servants and worshipers who reflect the value of that sacrifice.

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redeemed and renewed

marmsky January 2018 (17)devotional post # 2264

Numbers 3:39-43

Num 3:39 All those mustered among the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron mustered at the command of Yahveh, by clans, all the males from a month old and upward, were 22,000.
Num 3:40 And Yahveh said to Moses, “Muster all the firstborn males of the sons of Israel, from a month old and upward, taking the number of their names.
Num 3:41 And you will take the Levites for me– I am Yahveh– instead of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the sons of Israel.”
Num 3:42 So Moses mustered all the firstborn among the sons of Israel, as Yahveh commanded him.
Num 3:43 And all the firstborn males, according to the number of names, from a month old and upward as mustered were 22,273.

redeemed and renewed

The firstborn sons who would have died at the hands of the death angel in Egypt were redeemed and replaced by Levites. Redemption was bought by grace, and purchased afterward by service and worship. But even that service and worship had to come from those specifically sanctified for the task. A shadow of Christ’s saving work is the Levites.

LORD, now that you have saved us by your death on the cross, we trust your Holy Spirit to make us anew, so that we qualify to serve and worship you.

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support and service

marmsky January 2018 (16)devotional post # 2263

Numbers 3:33-38

Num 3:33 To Merari belonged the clan of the Mahlites and the clan of the Mushites: these are the clans of Merari.
Num 3:34 Their mustering according to the number of all the males from a month old and upward was 6,200.
Num 3:35 And the general from the fathers’ house of the clans of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail. They were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle.
Num 3:36 And the appointed guard duty of the sons of Merari involved the frames of the tabernacle, the bars, the pillars, the bases, and all their accessories; all the service connected with these;
Num 3:37 also the pillars around the court, with their bases and pegs and cords.
Num 3:38 Those who were to camp in front of the tabernacle on the east, in front of the conference tent toward the sunrise, were Moses and Aaron and his sons, guarding the sanctuary itself, to protect the people of Israel. And any outsider who came near was to be put to death.

support and service

The Merarite clans provided support for the tabernacle structure. They made sure the structure held together firmly. The services within the tabernacle courts were the responsibility of Moses, Aaron and his sons. The community consisted of many groups with different responsibilities foreshadowing a New Testament concept of “many parts in the one body’…”and individually members of one another” (Rom. 12:4-5).

LORD, show us our place within your community of faith. Enable us to serve where needed, and to support those who serve where and when we cannot.

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two jobs, one calling

marmsky January 2018 (15)devotional post # 2262

Numbers 3:27-32

Num 3:27 From Kohath came the clan of the Amramites and the clan of the Izharites and the clan of the Hebronites and the clan of the Uzzielites; these are the clans of the Kohathites.
Num 3:28 According to the mustering of all the males, from a month old and upward, there were 8,600, responsible to keep guard over the sanctuary.
Num 3:29 The clans of the sons of Kohath were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle,
Num 3:30 with Elizaphan the son of Uzziel as general over the fathers’ house of the clans of the Kohathites.
Num 3:31 And their guard duty involved the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary with which the priests serve, and the screen; all the service connected with these.
Num 3:32 And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest was to be general over the generals of the Levites, and to have oversight of those who kept guard over the sanctuary.

two jobs, one calling

Eleazar, one of Aaron’s sons, was designated as the general overseeing the Levite generals. This made sense because the Levites were directly responsible to protect the tabernacle and its worship. That made Eleazar kind-of bi-vocational. As a priest, he had to mind the tabernacle and its worship. As a Major General, he had to oversee the leaders of the Levites and their work.

Some people proudfully resist any kind of work other than their “ministry.” As such, they forget that any work can be part of a calling. Eleazar’s work among the Levites was just as essential to the mission as his work among the priests.

LORD, thank you for all the vocations you call us to: sacred or secular.

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saints serving unseen

marmsky January 2018 (14)devotional post # 2261

Numbers 3:18-26

Num 3:18 And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their clans: Libni and Shimei.
Num 3:19 And the sons of Kohath by their clans: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.
Num 3:20 And the sons of Merari by their clans: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites, by their fathers’ houses.
Num 3:21 To Gershon belonged the clan of the Libnites and the clan of the Shimeites; these were the clans of the Gershonites.
Num 3:22 Their mustering according to the number of all the males from a month old and upward was 7,500.
Num 3:23 The clans of the Gershonites were to camp behind the tabernacle on the west,
Num 3:24 with Eliasaph, the son of Lael as general over the fathers’ house of the Gershonites.
Num 3:25 And the guard duty of the sons of Gershon in the tent of meeting involved the tabernacle, the tent with its covering, the screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting,
Num 3:26 the hangings of the court, the screen for the door of the court that is around the tabernacle and the altar, and its cords– all the service connected with these.

saints serving unseen

The Gershonites were the family of Levites charged with the least significant of all the Levitical duties. Yet they responded to the call and performed their duties. They did so without the boasting right of having to do personally with any of the major elements of worship. Their only boast was that they also served the covenant community. They also served God.

In every fellowship of faith there are Gershonites. They do not preach, lead worship, or lead the congregation. They serve behind the scenes. But these saints who serve unseen are just as significant as those who are always seen. We need the whole body to function properly.

LORD, thank you for those who serve unseen among us.

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growing strong together

marmsky January 2018 (13)

devotional post # 2260

Numbers 3:14-17

Num 3:14 And Yahveh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, and this is what he said,
Num 3:15 “Muster the sons of Levi, by fathers’ houses and by clans; every male from a month old and upward you will muster.”
Num 3:16 So Moses mustered them according to the Yahveh’s word, as he was commanded.
Num 3:17 And these were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon and Kohath and Merari.

growing strong together

The names of Levi’s three sons mentioned here are significant, particularly when seen together. Gershon (Hebrew, Gershom) means “foreigner.” Kohath (Hebrew, Kehat) means “gathered.” Merari, which (like the name Miriam, or Mary) means “bitter,” — but connotes strength.

So, the Levites, God’s special forces army, obediently gathered together (like strands on a rope) as foreigners among their own people, and drew strength from the struggles they faced.

When we do this church thing, it often involves struggle and hardship. We are called to love one another when often we do not even like each other. But God wants to manifest his strength in us — together.

LORD, we surrender to your will. Make us strong as a single diverse body in Christ.

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they will be mine

marmsky January 2018 (12)devotional post # 2259

Numbers 3:11-13

Num 3:11 And Yahveh spoke to Moses, and this is what he said,
Num 3:12 “I (you will notice) have purchased the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the uterus among the people of Israel. The Levites will be mine,
Num 3:13 because all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of animal. They will be mine: I am Yahveh.”

they will be mine

The Levites were chosen to represent the firstborn of all the other tribes, and were drafted as the special forces army to protect and serve the whole nation, and to defend the holiness of God’s tabernacle. Each of the firstborn males of the other tribes was to have a replacement designated among the Levites.

You have also been redeemed, not by a Levite, but by Christ (Gal. 3:13; 1 Peter 1:18). When you go about your daily life, know that the eternal life you will live belongs to God, because it was purchased by the death of his righteous Son.

HOLY SPIRIT, show us how to live as your redeemed ones.

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serving the servants

marmsky January 2018 (11)devotional post # 2258

Numbers 3:5-10

Num 3:5 And Yahveh spoke to Moses, and this is what he said,
Num 3:6 “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, so they may serve him.
Num 3:7 They will keep guard over him and over the whole assembly at the conference tent, as they serve at the tabernacle.
Num 3:8 They will guard all the furnishings of the conference tent, and keep guard over the sons of Israel as they serve at the tabernacle.
Num 3:9 And you will give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are totally given to him from among the sons of Israel.
Num 3:10 And you will appoint Aaron and his sons, and they will guard their priesthood. But if any outsider comes near, he will be put to death.”

serving the servants

An entire special forces army was dedicated to protecting and serving the servants of Yahveh at the tabernacle. The connection between the holy God and his people was so important that an entire tribe was set apart to insure that the connection remained. God’s holiness is such that it takes a specially appointed high priest to approach him for the people. But the people’s sinfulness is such that they might even dare to approach him apart from his plan, and must be protected from their own pride.

Christ is our great high priest, the substance who cast a shadow onto this Old Testament event. Who then do the Levites represent? The author of Hebrews said of the angels “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” In God’s economy, an entire army of servants serve and protect his human servants, and defend his holiness.

LORD, thank you for your servants who protect your servants.

 

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the troubling truth

marmsky January 2018 (10)devotional post # 2257

Numbers 3:1-4

Num 3:1 These stories tell the history of Aaron and Moses at the time when the LORD spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai.
Num 3:2 These are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
Num 3:3 These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he ordained to serve as priests.
Num 3:4 But Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD when they offered forbidden fire to Yahveh’s face in the desert of Sinai, and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests in the lifetime of Aaron their father.

the troubling truth

Leviticus 10 tells the fuller story of Nadab and Abihu. Although they had been appointed to offer burnt offerings to Yahveh, they did it wrong — not following instructions. Moses reflects back on that story to explain the glaring gap in his genealogical record respecting Aaron’s line. He does not hide the troubling truth — that even though God has rescued his people from Egypt, he cannot allow Egypt’s sins to remain among them.

LORD, teach us your ways, so that we may walk in them.

 

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