devotional post # 2263
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.
devotional post # 2262
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.
devotional post # 2261
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.
devotional post # 2260
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.
devotional post # 2259
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.
devotional post # 2258
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.
devotional post # 2257
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.
devotional post # 2256
Num 2:32 These are the sons of Israel as mustered by their fathers’ houses. All those mustered in the camps by their companies were 603,550.
Num 2:33 But the Levites were not mustered among the sons of Israel, as Yahveh commanded Moses.
Num 2:34 This is what the sons of Israel did. In accordance with all that Yahveh commanded Moses, following this pattern they camped by their standards, and following this pattern they set out, each one in his clan, according to his fathers’ house.
following this pattern
There was a purpose to the pattern, so the Israelite troops followed it. Each flag identified the father’s house, and each mustered troop camped by his father’s flag. The Levites had an unlisted number: they were special forces. Their purpose was different. They had something different to protect. In the months and years to come, this order would be challenged. But as they set out, they recognized that God set the pattern according to his purpose.
Your life can go in a thousand directions, and you decide. But there are a few hints that the LORD has given you so that you can steer it in the right direction. He may not have given you as clear-cut a pattern as he gave Moses for the Israelites. But he did give you a family, a community, a calling, a set of skills. Follow the clues that he gave you.
LORD, give us the wisdom to follow your pattern for our lives, and the faith to trust you when that pattern is not as clear as we might want it to be.
devotional post # 2255
Num 2:29 Then the tribe of Naphtali, the general from the sons of Naphtali being Ahira the son of Enan,
Num 2:30 his company as mustered being 53,400.
Num 2:31 All those mustered of the camp of Dan were 157,600. They shall set out last, standard by standard.”
look behind you
General Ahira’s father was Enan, whose name has something to do with eyes. It is fitting that this rear-guard army would have such a legacy. The LORD seems to have said to them, “look behind you — keep yourselves safe from the enemy that sneaks up from behind.
As we travel with the Israelites through the desert, on the way to the promised land, we will find that many of their challenges will have been faced by their ancestors. We must watch and see if they have learned the lessons of the past, or if they are condemned to repeat past mistakes.
LORD, give us the wisdom to look behind us, to go forward with the confidence of lessons learned, and the awareness of our tendency to make the same mistake often.
devotional post # 2254
Num 2:27 And those to camp next to him will be the tribe of Asher, the general from the people of Asher being Pagiel the son of Ochran,
Num 2:28 his company as mustered being 41,500.
General Pagiel’s father was named Ochran, which means “trouble,” in the sense of disturbance. This sounds like a good biker name. It is the kind of name that suggests that you do not want to trouble this person, or you can expect trouble back. This reflects the kind of confidence the exodus generation had.
LORD, give us the confidence in you that those who bless us will be blessed by you, and those who disturb us will be judged by you.