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Numbers and Delegated Duties of the Levites

Wendy Blight

Day: 4 | Plan: Numbers

Today's Reading: Numbers 4

Numbers 4:46-47 (NIV) “So Moses, Aaron and the leaders of Israel counted all the Levites by their clans and families. All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to do the work of serving and carrying the tent of meeting.” 

In Numbers 4, Moses continues the census ordered by God of the Israelite community. But this census is different. It isn’t the names and count of the clans and patterns of arrangement around the tent of meeting. This census highlights particular families within the tribe of Levi and delineates their responsibilities with regard to the tearing down, transporting of and setting up of the tabernacle. Wherever Israel went, the tabernacle went with them. 

This census singled out 8,580 men ages 30 to 50 from three families within the tribe of Levi: the Kohathites (sons of Kohath), Gershonites (sons of Gershon) and Merarites (sons of Merari). Why that age range? The tasks to which God called them required maturity, physical strength and endurance. They would be working closely with the sacred things in the camp. Moses could not risk poor judgment, frailty or inattention to detail. 

With regard to the work, Moses issued strict instructions in accordance with the standard of holiness God had established for His people from the beginning. Whether it was the tabernacle, the cloud of glory by day or the all-consuming fire by night, God’s majesty lay ever before them. So even though God chose to be in their midst, because of His holiness, He separated Himself by dwelling in the Holy of Holies. That separateness needed to be maintained. Sinful man could not see, touch or even be in the presence of a holy God. 

Consequently, per God’s instruction, Moses assigned the care of the sacred furnishings to the Kohathites. But even they were not allowed to touch these items until Aaron and his sons dismantled, covered and wrapped them in special skins and colored cloths. Scripture tells us in Exodus that only the priests were allowed in the holy places, and even then only after a meticulous cleansing ritual. If anyone else touched or laid eyes upon them, even for only a moment, they would die. (Numbers 4:20, Numbers 18:3) God’s holiness created a boundary that could not be crossed.  

But, oh, how blessed we are under the New Covenant! God calls us friend. We see God clearly, not through a cloud by day or fire by night. God wrapped human skin around His glory in the form of His Son, Jesus, and walked among us. And after Jesus’ death and resurrection, He sent His glory enveloped in His Spirit to dwell within us. And that glory within transforms us day by day … changing us from the inside out. The indwelling presence of God molds and shapes us, taking us from one level of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18) until that great day when we will receive the fullness of His glory in eternity (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:43-53). 

Hallelujah! I can’t wait for that day.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Holy One of Israel, the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. You are majestic in holiness. A wonder-working God. The Lord of heaven and earth. There is no other. To Moses and the Israelites You revealed Yourself in clouds and fire. Your voice spoke through the flames. Now, You ride the heavens as You reign and rule over the earth. Who is like You, Lord? You are my promise-keeping God. Thank You for awaking my soul this morning to meet with You and hear Your voice. My heart is fixed on You. I am filled and satisfied. Stay close, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More Moments:

In our main teaching, we talked about the Kohathites. But there were two other families God... Read More

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