June 13, 2019

Same DNA, Same Goal

Numbers 4

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Duties of the Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites

The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Take a census of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their clans and their fathers' houses, from thirty years old up to fifty years old, all who can come on duty, to do the work in the tent of meeting. This is the service of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting: the most holy things. When the camp is to set out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it. Then they shall put on it a covering of goatskin1 and spread on top of that a cloth all of blue, and shall put in its poles. And over the table of the bread of the Presence they shall spread a cloth of blue and put on it the plates, the dishes for incense, the bowls, and the flagons for the drink offering; the regular showbread also shall be on it. Then they shall spread over them a cloth of scarlet and cover the same with a covering of goatskin, and shall put in its poles. And they shall take a cloth of blue and cover the lampstand for the light, with its lamps, its tongs, its trays, and all the vessels for oil with which it is supplied. 10 And they shall put it with all its utensils in a covering of goatskin and put it on the carrying frame. 11 And over the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue and cover it with a covering of goatskin, and shall put in its poles. 12 And they shall take all the vessels of the service that are used in the sanctuary and put them in a cloth of blue and cover them with a covering of goatskin and put them on the carrying frame. 13 And they shall take away the ashes from the altar and spread a purple cloth over it. 14 And they shall put on it all the utensils of the altar, which are used for the service there, the fire pans, the forks, the shovels, and the basins, all the utensils of the altar; and they shall spread on it a covering of goatskin, and shall put in its poles. 15 And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the sons of Kohath are to carry.

16 “And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall have charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular grain offering, and the anointing oil, with the oversight of the whole tabernacle and all that is in it, of the sanctuary and its vessels.”

17 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 18 “Let not the tribe of the clans of the Kohathites be destroyed from among the Levites, 19 but deal thus with them, that they may live and not die when they come near to the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in and appoint them each to his task and to his burden, 20 but they shall not go in to look on the holy things even for a moment, lest they die.”

21 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 22 “Take a census of the sons of Gershon also, by their fathers' houses and by their clans. 23 From thirty years old up to fifty years old, you shall list them, all who can come to do duty, to do service in the tent of meeting. 24 This is the service of the clans of the Gershonites, in serving and bearing burdens: 25 they shall carry the curtains of the tabernacle and the tent of meeting with its covering and the covering of goatskin that is on top of it and the screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting 26 and the hangings of the court and the screen for the entrance of the gate of the court that is around the tabernacle and the altar, and their cords and all the equipment for their service. And they shall do all that needs to be done with regard to them. 27 All the service of the sons of the Gershonites shall be at the command of Aaron and his sons, in all that they are to carry and in all that they have to do. And you shall assign to their charge all that they are to carry. 28 This is the service of the clans of the sons of the Gershonites in the tent of meeting, and their guard duty is to be under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

29 “As for the sons of Merari, you shall list them by their clans and their fathers' houses. 30 From thirty years old up to fifty years old, you shall list them, everyone who can come on duty, to do the service of the tent of meeting. 31 And this is what they are charged to carry, as the whole of their service in the tent of meeting: the frames of the tabernacle, with its bars, pillars, and bases, 32 and the pillars around the court with their bases, pegs, and cords, with all their equipment and all their accessories. And you shall list by name the objects that they are required to carry. 33 This is the service of the clans of the sons of Merari, the whole of their service in the tent of meeting, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.”

34 And Moses and Aaron and the chiefs of the congregation listed the sons of the Kohathites, by their clans and their fathers' houses, 35 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who could come on duty, for service in the tent of meeting; 36 and those listed by clans were 2,750. 37 This was the list of the clans of the Kohathites, all who served in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron listed according to the commandment of the LORD by Moses.

38 Those listed of the sons of Gershon, by their clans and their fathers' houses, 39 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who could come on duty for service in the tent of meeting—40 those listed by their clans and their fathers' houses were 2,630. 41 This was the list of the clans of the sons of Gershon, all who served in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron listed according to the commandment of the LORD.

42 Those listed of the clans of the sons of Merari, by their clans and their fathers' houses, 43 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who could come on duty, for service in the tent of meeting—44 those listed by clans were 3,200. 45 This was the list of the clans of the sons of Merari, whom Moses and Aaron listed according to the commandment of the LORD by Moses.

46 All those who were listed of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron and the chiefs of Israel listed, by their clans and their fathers' houses, 47 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who could come to do the service of ministry and the service of bearing burdens in the tent of meeting, 48 those listed were 8,580. 49 According to the commandment of the LORD through Moses they were listed, each one with his task of serving or carrying. Thus they were listed by him, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Footnotes

[1] 4:6 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain; compare Exodus 25:5

Same DNA, Same Goal



Key Verse | Numbers 4:49

According to the commandment of the LORD through Moses they were listed, each one with his task of serving or carrying. Thus they were listed by him, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Bio | Brooke Alger

Hi, friends. My name is Brooke Alger—that still sounds funny because my name changed pretty recently. I'm a newlywed who's learning to figure out what life looks like while pursuing oneness with my gracious husband and working as the newlywed assistant here at Watermark.

I began genuinely pursuing Christ my freshman year of college. I use the word genuinely because when I look at my past, I see a professional faker. Since I have found the TRUE love and grace of Jesus, I am able to walk in freedom knowing that I don't have to fake anything anymore and Jesus is always enough.

Central Truth

Each tribe had a specific role to play in taking care of and transporting the tabernacle, and God made them all rely on each other to do that work. In the same way, we as a church body are to use our different gifts together to accomplish the work of the Kingdom. 

Devotional | Numbers 4

I remember vividly going to visit my great grandmother in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We went to her church one Sunday morning and were greeted by a very kind, elderly man. We walked in, sat down, and then that same...

I remember vividly going to visit my great grandmother in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We went to her church one Sunday morning and were greeted by a very kind, elderly man. We walked in, sat down, and then that same man went on stage and welcomed everyone and made announcements. He then sat behind the organ and began to lead us in worship. Next, he walked to the pulpit, prayed, and gave the message. After that, he grabbed the offering plate and began to pass it along the aisles. He then prayed over the elements and administered communion to everyone. After the service, he stood by the door, slightly fatigued, and said, "God bless you," to each one of us.

This one man had done just about everything, and we walked away thinking: either a) he does not ask for help, or b) the congregation is made up of consumers. Either way, it was evident this man was running himself dry, and the church wasn't doing much to lighten the load. 

Numbers 4 is a perfect example of how God desires His people to operate. This passage shows that each tribe had a specific role to play in caring for and transporting the tabernacle. Each was assigned tasks, and they wouldn't be able to successfully transport the tabernacle unless all fulfilled their duties. God has called us to be as His church in a similar way. Though we all have different gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), we all are to use our gifts for the common good to build up a unified body with many functioning parts (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

In this passage, every Kohathite, Gershonite, and Merarite first trusted the Lord and His commandments and then trusted each other to carry out the specific jobs that the Lord had given them. They needed to depend on the Lord, His Word, and the body. My prayer is that we would never feel the need to take on every role—like my great grandma's pastor—but we would learn to walk in faithful obedience with the gifts the Lord has given us to accomplish His will together as one body.

Let's go, Church!

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Discussion Questions

1. Are you taking on more than you can accomplish with excellence because you do not trust the Lord and His body?

2. Do you feel like a number in a census or a vital member of the body that is accomplishing the work of the Kingdom?

3. How do you depend on the Lord and how do you depend on his people?

4. Where can you best use your gifts in order to build up the kingdom?

9 Comments available

Jay Caruso 8 days ago

Good stuff Brooke thank you very much it must’ve been extremely old church I would imagine and I’m sure it was a great experience seeing a man full of love and God‘s grace to go through all that with happy heart. I believe serving is an Intercal part of the church and thank you so much for WaterMark and their obedience in that

Jennifer Kling 12 days ago
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@Julie Newmeyer - I’ve wondered the same thing.

greg jones 12 days ago

Great devotional. My thought and a half was, Jerry Jones is from Arkansas, he’s the owner, general manager, offensive…that’s off point.

Great questions. I believe to serve well in any given moment I should be able to answer those types of questions pretty definitively. To serve well over a lifetime I should be feeling a manageable tension within those questions.

If the answers to questions 3&4 are static not fluid I can find myself on the wrong sides of question 1 and question 2a.

Sensitive to the circumstances surrounding the questions allows me change. Having the same answer in all circumstances makes other people work around me.

Walk is-question step answer step repeat.

Stand is-answer repeat answer or question repeat question.

Sue Bohlin 12 days ago

OUTSTANDING devo, Brooke! What a picture of the one-man show that Jesus NEVER intended for His church.

I was struck by the necessity of self-control in those carrying the various parts of the tabernacle. They were close enough to touch the holy things, but Yahweh forbade them to even LOOK at them, lest they die. They all knew what happened to Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu when they disobeyed, so they knew to take the promised consequences seriously.

Today I am grateful that self-control is part of the fruit of the indwelling Spirit, so I get supernatural help with that–if I will just abide in Christ and stay dependent on Him.

Sarah Crotty 12 days ago

From New Bible Commentary Numbers 3 & 4:

…the Bible warns that before God men stand in mortal danger … his servants must take great care to obey him in every respect.

[D]irections given to the Levites taught them to honour God. Each man was to carry out his prescribed duties and not exceed his authority.

God is a consuming fire; he cannot be mocked Hebrews 12:29. Although the love of God and his forgiveness are beyond measure, he will not permit men to dishonour him. His own glory first; man’s good second. It is the miracle of his grace that these two things are both satisfied in the work of Christ

Hope Harris 12 days ago

I am amazed at the size of the endeavor to move the Tabernacle. Not a small task considering these things were made of solid heavy materials. Gold and solid wood.

Considering that an average hikers pack weighs 15-20 % of their weight. (150 lb person would carry 20-30 pounds.) The average solider’s gear is around 60 pounds.

If an item like the alter required four men to carry it it was at least 240 pounds if not more. They were not transporting the item a few hundred feet but miles. I can see why it took a tribe of men to get the job done.

This task shows a God of order and intention. He knew what it would take to get the job done.

It gives a whole new meaning to “Carry the Load.”

Hugh Stephenson 12 days ago

A great truth I have learned is that there is a difference in having Jesus as Savior AND Lord. I know people who have the former but do not really have both. At times my heart wanders and I don’t have both.

To trust Him fully and completely I am to seek to know Him more deeply and intimately each day. Only then am I able to have the peace He promises, (Philippians 4:6-7).

What God is showing me in this passage is another example of how He orders and directs my life. He has given me specific gifts and talents. In prayer and with counsel He will reveal those to me. More importantly, His gifts can be highly specific; not just leadership but small group leadership - not large group leadership. Not just teaching but small group teaching or 1:1 teaching.

Praying to fully surrender to His sovereignty.

Julie Newmeyer 13 days ago

As I have read through Leviticus and now the first few chapters of Numbers, I can’t help but ponder how they remembered everything the Lord commanded them to do. I wonder if after the Lord spoke to Moses, he wrote everything down? Just some thoughts.

Michael Scaman 13 days ago

Unlike the Hollywood portayals “…When the camp is to set out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it…” You would never look at the ark, it would always be covered with the veil of the holy of holies and the other furniture in the holy place would be covered as well. The ark was not supposed to be seen uncovered

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