Numbers 6–The Nazirites, God’s Special Ops.

God allowed certain members of the people to be set apart to serve him at the highest level.  They were called Nazirites.  They would be the spiritual version of Special Ops.  In order to be a Nazarite, one needed to commit to living a holy life and a life of service to God.  The symbol of service was their long hair. While a person was a Nazarite, they could not cut their hair, could not drink wine or even eat anything associated with grapes or wine vinegar. Additionally, They were not allowed to be in the presence of dead people. The idea was that they were set apart for special service.

Nazirites could be men or women–they simply had to commit to following the Lord closely.  During their time, the rules applied. to end their time as a Nazarite, they would go through a very public ceremony to announce their ending the commitment. It was only at that point, that they would cut their hair and be allowed to drink wine.  Clearly, the commitment to be a Nazirite was not one to be taken lightly. It was one the person made willingly, and could end by choice. But, while committed, God used the Nazirites to  to be spiritual leaders and warriors. Samson was the most famous,both as a warrior and as a person that lost sight of his commitment to God.

In our walk, God calls us to honor our commitments as well.  He holds us in a special place as His adopted kids.  He simply asks us to follow humbly and trust Him.  The Lord then does the work to transform us into His image.  It is a lifelong process that allows us to walk and live in a manner that honors God and blesses us.  We must simply trust God to do his work in his time.  Help me Lord, to honor you with my life and my commitment–Just like a Nazirite!

God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the Lord as a Nazirite, they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.

“‘During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long.

“‘Throughout the period of their dedication to the Lord, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body. Even if their own father or mother or brother or sister dies, they must not make themselves ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of their dedication to God is on their head. Throughout the period of their dedication, they are consecrated to the Lord.

“‘If someone dies suddenly in the Nazirite’s presence, thus defiling the hair that symbolizes their dedication, they must shave their head on the seventh day—the day of their cleansing.

Numbers 5 Part 1–Purity, Path to God’s Best

God had some pretty strict standards. He was going to be dwelling with the Israelites while they were headed to Canaan, so He needed things to be right. After ordering the tribes and setting out the Levitical duties, God knew it was time to set some standards.  So thing one–no unclean folks in camp.  What made people unclean? Skin diseases, bloody discharges, dealing with dead bodies…So for a time after that, those people would have to live outside the camp.  While it seems harsh, it was the simple fact that God wanted to keep his people pure and healthy.  But, there was more.

In addition to the health of the people, God wanted Israel to understand the importance of purity.  They were in a land where people mixed everything–religions, tribes, marriages, food–what ever felt good was the mission of the day.  The total lack of discipline was a destructive force among the peoples; and the difference for why Israel would take the land and keep it.  God knew that discipline was a learned trait.  It needed to start with basic things and then infiltrate all areas of life. So God set rigorous standards for His people that would make them strong and united.

God calls us to be pure as well.  We do not have the same rigorous standards that God gave Israel, but, He does ask us to be holy; like He is holy.  The way we do life needs to be pure and honoring to God.  How we do business, how we treat others and how we worship; all give us the ability to become like the Lord, and have Him dwell in our lives.  As we examine our lives we need to ask–what is unclean, what is keeping us from God’s best.  Once we have made the determination, get separated from it. Help me, Lord, to live a life that is pure in Your sight.

God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease[a] or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body. Send away male and female alike; send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them.” The Israelites did so; they sent them outside the camp. They did just as the Lord had instructed Moses.

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way[b] and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer. All the sacred contributions the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him.10 Sacred things belong to their owners, but what they give to the priest will belong to the priest.’”

Numbers 4 Part 2–Here’s to the Gershonites

Some Jobs do not seem nearly as sexy as others. The Kohathites were charged with the care and protection of all God’s tabernacle treasures.  The Gershonites, conversely, were charged with caring for the tent. It was not nearly as noble sounding, but just as critical to the mission of God.  Without the Tabernacle tent, the treasures would be left out in the desert. The priests would have no place to worship and God would have no designated place to meet the people.

The Gershonites had a very important role.  Their care and protection of the Tabernacle itself would literally keep the people for the next 40+ years.  God is like that. He charges many with duties that do not seem substantial, but are in fact critical to God’s plan.

In our lives, we often forget that many that serve in ministry, do so as volunteers. They pray, do childcare, bring meals, care for the grounds; usually with little or no recognition. Still, each one serves with a heart to please God and simply do the mission he has given them.  It may not be the center stage ministry–but often it is the ministry that allows the center stage to happen.  So here is a shout out for the Gershonites, the keepers of the tent.  Without them, then and now, ministry simply would not happen!

God Bless You

 The Lord said to Moses, 22 “Take a census also of the Gershonites by their families and clans. 23 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

24 “This is the service of the Gershonite clans in their carrying and their other work: 25 They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, that is, the tent of meeting, its covering and its outer covering of durable leather, the curtains for the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26 the curtains of the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard, the ropes and all the equipment used in the service of the tent. The Gershonites are to do all that needs to be done with these things. 27 All their service, whether carrying or doing other work, is to be done under the direction of Aaron and his sons. You shall assign to them as their responsibility all they are to carry. 28 This is the service of the Gershonite clans at the tent of meeting. Their duties are to be under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest.

Numbers 4–The Kohathites, God’s Special Caretakers

Aaron and his family were not only given the distinction of being a part of the tribe of Levi ( The new firstborns of Israel), but God also gave him and his family, (the Kohathites) the honor of caring for and carrying the special articles. As a nomadic group. The people of Israel needed as much symmetry and stability as  possible. That is why God gave the Kohathites an order, and set out a plan for the care and moving of the Tabernacle and the worship articles.  

God was not only clear about who would carry the stuff, but also how it was to be cared for and moved.  If the Kohathite men did not care for the articles correctly, The people would all lose out.  The Ark of the Covenant was especially dear, it is where God made His presence known.  If the Kohathites, or anyone touched it; they would die.  Some incidents occurred where the rules were not followed and the person paid a price. Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6–grabbed the ark and died.  King Uzziah went into the temple to act as a priest and was immediately struck with leprosy.   God took the care of his stuff seriously and only enlisted those He could trust to carry it out.

Here is the amazing part–in proportion, God Loves us sooooooo much more.  When we think of all the time and effort God put into training the men to care for the holy chairs, He personally gave his own life to care for us.  We can never underestimate God’s plan for our lives.  We have to trust that the same God that demonstrated the plan for moving Israel into the promised land; will carefully execute His work in our lives, as well. He has had thousands of years to practice, and He has never been late.  He is always in the right place, at the right time. 

God Bless You 

 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

“This is the work of the Kohathites at the tent of meeting: the care of the most holy things. When the camp is to move, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain and put it over the ark of the covenant law. Then they are to cover the curtain with a durable leather,[a] spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles in place.

“Over the table of the Presence they are to spread a blue cloth and put on it the plates, dishes and bowls, and the jars for drink offerings; the bread that is continually there is to remain on it.They are to spread a scarlet cloth over them, cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

“They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lamp-stand that is for light, together with its lamps, its wick trimmers and trays, and all its jars for the olive oil used to supply it. 10 Then they are to wrap it and all its accessories in a covering of the durable leather and put it on a carrying frame.

11 “Over the gold altar they are to spread a blue cloth and cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

12 “They are to take all the articles used for ministering in the sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover that with the durable leather and put them on a carrying frame.

13 “They are to remove the ashes from the bronze altar and spread a purple cloth over it. 14 Then they are to place on it all the utensils used for ministering at the altar, including the firepans, meat forks,shovels and sprinkling bowls. Over it they are to spread a covering of the durable leather and put the poles in place.

15 “After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying.But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. 

Numbers 3–The Levites, God’s Firstborn

The Levitical tribe had a unique place in Israel.  They were set apart to perform all the duties related to the spiritual functions of the nation.  They were in charge of the Tabernacle and the tent of meeting.  They would care for the furnishings and the Ark of the Covenant.  They would be the priests of the tribes and always be spread through the tribes and not left on their own.

But, the Lord said something unique to Moses–These are to be the replacement for the 1st born males from every Israelite woman that I lost in Egypt.  God had not forgotten the horrible act Pharaoh had ordered.  The Levites were to replace the first born males lost to Israel–the ones that would normally be committed to God. What a seat of honor–to be truly set apart as a tribe, to replace such a grievous loss.  The men of Levi would hold that distinction from then on.

In our lives, God set us apart as well.  We are to be his chosen.  We are to be his ambassadors among the people of the world.  We are to wear the LORD’S name boldly as we live our daily lives.  God treasured the Levitical order; just as He treasures us. We simply need to live as His people, It is as great an honor to live as God’s ambassadors while we walk among those we know each day!

God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, “Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle. They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle. Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him.[a] 10 Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

11 The Lord also said to Moses, 12 “I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, 13 for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”

Numbers 2–Putting Things in Order

God was preparing the people of Israel to enter and take the land God promised, God arranged the tribes in an order to best protect Israel and also to begin to align them with his plan.  There is little prophetical or historical data about why God put the tribes in the order that He did.  There are a few things, however, that do stand out.  

First, The tribe of Judah led  the tribes.  While Judah was not the 1st born among Jacob’s sons, Jacob said as he blessed him, ” Judah,[b] your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you.” Clearly, 500 years earlier Jacob knew Judah was to be the tribe to lead. He told his son that very thing. Now as Israel prepared to receive the promise, God Made Judah the lead.

Next, God Put the Levitical tribes and all the things of God in the center of the people. Strategically, it was brilliant.  No enemy could sneak in and raid the Levitical tribes and the treasures they kept, but, also, they were the heart of the people.  Everyone looked to God for answers, for provision and for direction.  That was Moses and Aaron and God. From the beginning, they would always see God as the center of attention and his priests the heart of the people.  They were, After all a nation of priests and as such, priests should hold a place of honor.

Finally, God set the nation up for a strategic and organized movement into the promised land. He balanced the tribes giving each side a leader.  God knew each would be significant in their role, but also balanced as a group.  He did not say one tribe was better than another, but all had a place and a role.  It is the same with us.  We are all placed according to God’s plan. Where we are placed and how we are used is his choice.  We simply need to keep him at the center of our lives and be prepared to serve , however He leads. That alignment will carry the day!

God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”

On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard. 

The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them.

The tribe of Zebulun will be next. The leader of the people of Zebulun is Eliab son of Helon.His division numbers 57,400.

All the men assigned to the camp of Judah, according to their divisions, number 186,400. They will set out first.

10 On the south will be the divisions of the camp of Reuben under their standard. 

12 The tribe of Simeon will camp next to them. 

14 The tribe of Gad will be next. 

16 All the men assigned to the camp of Reuben, according to their divisions, number 151,450. They will set out second.

17 Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in their own place under their standard.

18 On the west will be the divisions of the camp of Ephraim under their standard. 

20 The tribe of Manasseh will be next to them. 

22 The tribe of Benjamin will be next. 

24 All the men assigned to the camp of Ephraim, according to their divisions, number 108,100. They will set out third.

25 On the north will be the divisions of the camp of Dan under their standard. 

27 The tribe of Asher will camp next to them. 

29 The tribe of Naphtali will be next. 

31 All the men assigned to the camp of Dan number 157,600. They will set out last, under their standards.

32 These are the Israelites, counted according to their families. All the men in the camps, by their divisions, number 603,550. 33 The Levites, however, were not counted along with the other Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.

34 So the Israelites did everything the Lord commanded Moses; that is the way they encamped under their standards, and that is the way they set out, each of them 

Numbers 1 Part 2–It is All in the Preparation

​​As God had the tribes count–to collect the number of fighting men available to march in and take the promised Land, He did two things that were unique.  First, the Lord made clear to the people that they were a substantial people when together.  By tribe, Moses received the count and at the end of the day–Israel was protected by GOD, and 600,000 + fighting men.  That is no small number.  The census helped the people to realize that they were all ready and accountable to defend the people when called upon.

The second thing that God did, was to set aside the Levitical tribe to defend the tabernacle, and the things of God. They would never be a part of the troops, they would be charged with the duty of maintaining and protecting the holy and unique part of the nation.  No other nation or tribe had literally been led by God.  He led them, fed them, freed them and prepared them to become a nation of priests.  As such, the Levitical tribe–the tribe of priests were also set apart to maintain and protect all that was holy.  It is also fitting that God chose His leader for His nation from the tribe of priests!  Why shouldn’t Moses, a Levite be the face of His nation!

In our day, God still wants us to know that He is preparing us to reclaim our promise.  God wants us to see we are ready, but, He also wants us to remember that the spiritual preparation is what is critical.  We need to follow the Lord and allow Him to continue His sanctification process in our lives.  But, we also need to understand God is readying us for the spiritual battles we face. Like Israel–He is hardening us, disciplining us and preparing us for the journey–we must take that seriously.  

Thank You, Father, for helping me to understand that while You are clearly in charge, I too must be made ready for the fight.

God Bless You

 

These were the men counted by Moses and Aaron and the twelve leaders of Israel, each one representing his family. 45 All the Israelites twenty years old or more who were able to serve in Israel’s army were counted according to their families. 46 The total number was 603,550.

47 The ancestral tribe of the Levites, however, was not counted along with the others. 48 The Lord had said to Moses: 49 “You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites. 50 Instead, appoint the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle of the covenant law—over all its furnishings and everything belonging to it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they are to take care of it and encamp around it. 51 Whenever the tabernacle is to move,the Levites are to take it down, and whenever the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall do it. Anyone else who approaches it is to be put to death. 52 The Israelites are to set up their tents by divisions, each of them in their own camp under their standard. 53 The Levites, however, are to set up their tents around the tabernacle of the covenant law so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelite community. The Levites are to be responsible for the care of the tabernacle of the covenant law.”

54 The Israelites did all this just as the Lord commanded Moses.