CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

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I still have the bugle...

SIGNALS TO COMPLAINERS

Israel has become a nation and they are ready to go on the march.  This may not seem like a time to have music lessons, but the trumpet is important now.  Like bugles, they communicate information to a large body of people.  They may sound the alarm or signal a solemn assembly.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.  And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.  When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward.  When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.  But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm.  And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations.  And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.  Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.  Num 10:1-10 (KJV)

It was time for another signal, as the cloud left the tabernacle to signal another move.  The Lord was leading the armies of Israel into the Promised Land and its battles.  I myself am preparing a move to Iowa tonight.  I am anticipating my new home with uncertainty but hope.

And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.  And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.  And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.  In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab.  And over the host of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethaneel the son of Zuar.  And over the host of the tribe of the children of Zebulun was Eliab the son of Helon.  And the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the tabernacle.  And the standard of the camp of Reuben set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elizur the son of Shedeur.  And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.  And over the host of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph the son of Deuel.  And the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary: and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came.  And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elishama the son of Ammihud.  And over the host of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.  And over the host of the tribe of the children of Benjamin was Abidan the son of Gideoni.  And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward, which was the rereward of all the camps throughout their hosts: and over his host was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.  And over the host of the tribe of the children of Asher was Pagiel the son of Ocran.  And over the host of the tribe of the children of Naphtali was Ahira the son of Enan.  28 Thus were the journeyings of the children of Israel according to their armies, when they set forward.  Num 10:11-28 (KJV)

Moses invites his brother in law to join the journey.  We too are invited to join, even we who are not sons of Abraham.  We too are invited to share the goodness that God has appointed to Israel.

And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses’ father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.  And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred.  And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes.  And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the LORD shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee.  And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them.  And the cloud of the LORD was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.  And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.  And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel.  Num 10:29-36 (KJV)

I find that moving often is a burden, and sometimes I am less than grateful for all the deliverance I have seen.  Israel had complaints too, and Moses had to bear them all.  I think we have all been chastised by God for this, but never to death.  It was not so easy for this camp.

And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.  And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.  And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them.  Num 11:1-3 (KJV)

Having been burned myself, one might think I would remember not to complain.  But my lessons seem to parallel those of this reading all too often.  Perhaps I too will spend some years wandering in the desert. I could learn from Israel.

And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?  We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:  But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.  And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.  And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.  And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.  Num 11:4-9 (KJV)

God gives us blessings in many forms.  I complain about the weather, my health, even the bitter strong coffee at work.  Perhaps I should remember that I have been blessed if I had the opportunity to bless someone else.  If I can do my job well, the employer and my co-workers share the blessings.  We might stop to enjoy the opportunity we had to bless someone instead of cursing them with complaints.

Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.  And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?  Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?  Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.  I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.  And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.  Num 11:10-15 (KJV)

God sometimes grants our wishes, and we can remember the admonition: “be careful what you wish for”.  The sweet things in life can kill us in excess.  How much do we appreciate the protection God offers when we consider some other path?  Do we really know what is best more than our father in heaven?

And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.  And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.  And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat.  Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;  But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?  Num 11:16-20 (KJV)

Moses is still thinking about problem solving in the natural too.  He sees his limitations instead of the limitless resources of God the provider.

And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.  Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?  And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD’S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.  And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.  Num 11:21-24 (KJV)

God demonstrates his power to give man greater abilities for Moses and all to see.  He empowers the common folk a bit.

And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.  But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.  And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.  And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.  And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!  And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.  Num 11:25-30 (KJV)

These men have been given a spiritual gift that reveals God’s plan to man.  This is a powerful statement of God’s nearness and protection to them.  They are facing real uncertainties with some apprehension and some complaining, but God is assuring them.  He now keeps his promise to deliver meat, for better or worse.

And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey on this side, and as it were a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits (3 feet) high upon the face of the earth.  And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp.  And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.  And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.  And the people journeyed from Kibrothhattaavah unto Hazeroth; and abode at Hazeroth.  Num 11:31-35 (KJV)

Have you ever had food poisoning?  Even a mild case is a miserable cramping stomach pain that endures for hours.  This generation is seeing the promise God made earlier, that they would not live to see the promised land.  Their bad example would be the earning for their children who would go on with Moses to their inheritance. 

I have a new job, and still find time to complain about the weather, or the work.  Every person that is a little different makes me move out of my comfort zone.  Each new church makes me learn a new song.  “Would God strike me down if we sang an old song?” I wonder to myself.  God hears my thoughts of course.  How long do I spend wandering in the wilderness because of my own lust for sweet meats?  I may want to give up my complaints, rebellion, and unbelief.

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GRADUATION FROM BASIC TRAINING

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LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE

 As the Tabernacle is established, the people are preparing to set out to the Promised Land.  They need to be right before the Lord as they go.  Their leaders also take this charge seriously.

 And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them;  That the princes of Israel, heads of the house of their fathers, who were the princes of the tribes, and were over them that were numbered, offered:  And they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle.  Numbers 7:1-3

 Leadership must be by example; their obedience to God was needed as an example for the people.  The offerings were shared with the Levites, but the Levites were also leaders in the spiritual realm, and they too showed leadership in offerings.

 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Take it of them, that they may be to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; and thou shalt give them unto the Levites, to every man according to his service.  And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the Levites.  Two wagons and four oxen he gave unto the sons of Gershon, according to their service:  And four wagons and eight oxen he gave unto the sons of Merari, according unto their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.  But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders.  And the princes offered for dedicating of the altar in the day that it was anointed, even the princes offered their offering before the altar.  Numbers 7:4-10

 When Messiah came, he too made an offering of service at the alter of sacrifice.  In the New Testament we are reminded that leadership demands service first:

 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.  Matt 20:25-28 (KJV)

 When the leaders had made their dedications, the Lord gave a pattern for the menorah.

 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.  And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses.  And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick.  Num 8:1-4 (KJV)

 Perhaps this reference to the lamps seems out of place in this service of dedication of leadership.  But the greatest leader of all would serve after this pattern.  The apostle John had a vision of the Messiah as part of the seven candlesticks.  No one would dedicate more to the kingdom of God than the son.

 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.  Rev 1:14-16 (KJV)

 Now the Levites were prepared by cleansing for service.  The ceremony marked the end of their preparation for war.  They would need to understand the importance of spiritual warfare first though.

 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.  And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.  Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering.  And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together:  And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:  And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD.  And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites.  And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the LORD.  Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.  And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.  For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.  For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.  And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.  And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.  Num 8:5-19 (KJV)

So the Levites were again set apart for service to the Lord.  At age fifty they were further relieved of duty to focus on service to ministry.  The elders were the leadership ranks of the spiritual warriors.

And Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites according unto all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them.  And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the LORD; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.  And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:  And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:   But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.  Num 8:20-26 (KJV)

They are reminded to keep the Passover at this time too.

And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.  Num 9:1-3 (KJV)

These people did as God asked without complaint at this time.  Moses shared the instructions, and they complied.

And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.  And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.  Num 9:4-5 (KJV)

They were willing to serve, and observant of all the warnings around the Passover.  They wanted to comply even when circumstances might prevent it.

And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day:  And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the LORD in his appointed season among the children of Israel?  And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.  Num 9:6-8 (KJV)

Moses understood their desire, and the warnings about this, so he sought God instead of venturing a guess.  God was favorable to their willingness to observe Passover more than to those who might make excuses.  In their coming campaign many would come into contact with dead bodies as their enemies fell around them.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD.  The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.  But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.  And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.  Num 9:9-14 (KJV)

We come into contact with unclean things in our daily life.  We should be so willing to remember the Passover of Jesus so much as these.  To forget the gift of the Lamb of God is to be cut off from life itself, not just being cut off from the people. 

The people of Israel are now dedicated and ready for the coming advance on the Promised Land.  The signs of the Lord direct their coming and going.  They are nearly ready for the advance to begin.

And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.  So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.  And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.  At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.  And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not.  And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed.  And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.  Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.  At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.  Num 9:15-23 (KJV)

The camp was given the basic training of spiritual warfare.  They were nearly ready to enter the battle with the Lord going before them.  They had the pillar of smoke as the ensign of God himself going before them.  Surely faith will lead them to great victories.

NAZARITES: ABOVE AND BEYOND

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A FEW GOOD MEN

God has given Israel the Law, but he has another requirement beyond the law.  God wants a few good men to go above and beyond the call of duty.  These may be volunteers, or appointees by parental devotion as with Samson.  They can turn away from the responsibility, but they will suffer some loss.  Nazarites are a special separated group. 

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD:  He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.  All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.  All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.  All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body.  He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head.  All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.  Numbers 6:1-8

You may remember some of these requirements from the story of Samson.  But remember all of these, as each is required of the Nazarites.  They must not cut their hair or contact grapes, wine, or even a vineyard.  They can not approach a body, even of a family member for a funeral.  There is a provision if he should slip though.  It requires a ritual from the priest.

And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it.  And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:  And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day.  And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.  Numbers 6:9-12

So even after atonement some loss is experienced from the Nazarite’s days of honor.  When his days of separation are completed he will have a cause to shave his hair:

And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:  And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings,  And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings.  And the priest shall bring them before the LORD, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering:  And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering.  And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.  And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his separation is shaven:  And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.  This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of his offering unto the LORD for his separation, beside that that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the law of his separation.  Numbers 6:13-21

Some Nazarites were known for their faithfulness, and others for their failures.  Samson is our most detailed example.  Remember the three rules when you read his story.  See if you can spot where he first starts going wrong.  How many more errors do you find?  Yet, like David, he discovers mercy even after his failures.  These then are the Nazarites we meet in the bible:

  1. Judges 13:7  (Samson)
    But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
  2. Judges 16:17
    That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
  3. Lamentations 4:7
    Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:
  4. Amos 2:11
    And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD.
  5. Amos 2:12
    But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.

Does God still have a place for Nazarites?  Some Christians are strongly led to follow a narrow path of holiness.  Perhaps we think of them as “holier than thou”, but do they have their calling from God?  Perhaps we are wrong to tempt them by offering alcoholic wine in communion services.  This may be especially true if this is done without warning.  But then why even tempt our reformed alcoholics?

While there are times when we must judge against sin that destroys the church, we may be in danger for judging someone to be overly religious.  If they do not force this on others, they may well be honoring a valid vow.  Their desire to offer a sacrifice to God is not harmful.  Our own judgment may be more harmful to the body than their vows.  We certainly err when we forbid prophesy in church. 

 Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself:  Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself.  And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.  Amos 2:14-16

I am concerned to see more churches with doctrinal statements that claim the gifts of Pentecost, while forbidding the manifestation in services.  The Azusa Street revival may be fading in our generation.  Perhaps we need a return to the Nazarites in the modern church.

PURITY TESTING

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ALTERNATIVES TO DEATH

My dog was slated for euthanasia at the animal shelter because she got so wild in cage confinement.  A trainer rescued her from the room where she was to be terminated, and took her home for foster placement.  As a volunteer at the shelter, I liked the dog and all her playful energy.  I adopted her from the foster care.  The Old Testament offered opportunities for grace, however limited.

God charges Moses to protect the people from corruption of the body and soul:

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead:  Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell.  And the children of Israel did so, and put them out without the camp: as the LORD spake unto Moses, so did the children of Israel.  Numbers 5:1-4

This is not unlike the New Testament instructions to church leaders.  We are to protect the church from spiritual plagues even as these leaders protected their flocks from physical diseases.

I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:  Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an  idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.  1 Corinthians 5:9-13

We are not concerned about judging outsiders who sin.  But those who claim to be Christians while living in sin are to be judged by the church leaders.  We are not even to be seen eating a meal with them.  If they are expelled from your fellowship, God will judge them.  If they repent, they may be restored to fellowship.  The Law also offers a path to restoration.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Speak unto the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the LORD, and that person be guilty;  Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.  But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the LORD, even to the priest; beside the ram of the atonement, whereby an atonement shall be made for him.  And every offering of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which they bring unto the priest, shall be his.  And every man’s hallowed things shall be his: whatsoever any man giveth the priest, it shall be his.  Numbers 5:5-10

It was not enough to admit a crime if someone was robbed of their property.  One must also pay the victim back, and add 20% more to it!  If there is no victim to receive the compensation, it goes to the church, or the priest here. 

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man’s wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him,  And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner;  And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled:  Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance.  And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD:  And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water:  And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse:  And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse:  But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband:  Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell;  And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen.  And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water:  And he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse: and the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter.  Then the priest shall take the jealousy offering out of the woman’s hand, and shall wave the offering before the LORD, and offer it upon the altar:  And the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water.  And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people.  And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.  This is the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside to another instead of her husband, and is defiled;  Or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law.  Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity.  Numbers 5:11-31

In that day, God created a test to discover infidelity.  This is no longer in effect even for the Jews.  Israel can not ever return to the law any more than Adam could return to Eden.  God is the power of the law, but he has moved onto grace.  They will try to restore the temple, but God has fulfilled the law forever in Jesus.  The power of these laws depended on God’s enforcement.  This miracle test is no longer seen in the earth.  But this was a very real test in the days of the Old Testament.  God revealed his power in a graphic way so man would have no excuses.  Given a perfect law and the power of God’s own enforcement, we see proof that man is incapable of pure living.  Even in this harsh test, the guilty are offered a redemption path, and still most will fail.

THE COVERING OF GRACE

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SHADOWS OF ESCAPE

 We have been moving a bit more slowly through these books of the Law.  This seems like hard reading, but is building a foundation for our faith.  The Law is to be fulfilled by the coming savior.  But we have to see how we need to have a savior first.  We have to fail before we can find success.  The law that is to prove our weakness has mercy though.  There are hints of deliverance woven into it even as the embroidered designs of the veils.  Every service and furnishing has meaning in our lives today.

 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,  Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers,  From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.  This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things:  Numbers 4:1-4

 This family has care of the furnishings of the most holy part of services.  That is they must carry them, but not touch them.  The carrying handles have to be prepared by Aaron’s sons.

 And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it:  And shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof.  And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon:  And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put in the staves thereof.  And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it:  And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put it upon a bar.  And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put to the staves thereof:  And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put them on a bar:  And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon:  And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers’ skins, and put to the staves of it.  And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.  And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest pertaineth the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, and the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof.  Numbers 4:5-16

 The translation of badger’s skins is disputed.  The animal was not found in the area, but the water proof skins of sea going mammals was often used this way.  An extinct breed of sea cow was available for this use at that time.  These skins seem to be a weather proof outer protection.

 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron saying,  Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites:  But thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden:  But they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die.  Numbers 4:17-20

 In the body of Christ we too have callings.  We are limited so we may not be able to do what others do well.  Yet we are all needed to complete the plan of God.  No one is despised in his eyes.

For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body?  But now are they many members, yet but one body.  1 Corinthians 12:14-20

David wanted to build the temple but God left that to be Solomon’s job.  David was a man after God’s heart, but he too had limitations.  So the workers of the tabernacle were also blessed with specific callings.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, throughout the houses of their fathers, by their families;  From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.  This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, to serve, and for burdens:  And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers’ skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,  And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.  At the appointment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burdens, and in all their service: and ye shall appoint unto them in charge all their burdens.  This is the service of the families of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation: and their charge shall be under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.  As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers;  From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof,  And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden.  This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.  And Moses and Aaron and the chief of the congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites after their families, and after the house of their fathers,  From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation:  And those that were numbered of them by their families were two thousand seven hundred and fifty.  Numbers 4:21-36

 

These were they that were numbered of the families of the Kohathites, all that might do service in the tabernacle of the congregation, which Moses and Aaron did number according to the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.  And those that were numbered of the sons of Gershon, throughout their families, and by the house of their fathers,  From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,  Even those that were numbered of them, throughout their families, by the house of their fathers, were two thousand and six hundred and thirty.  These are they that were numbered of the families of the sons of Gershon, of all that might do service in the tabernacle of the congregation, whom Moses and Aaron did number according to the commandment of the LORD.  And those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, throughout their families, by the house of their fathers,  From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,  Even those that were numbered of them after their families, were three thousand and two hundred.  These be those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.  All those that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron and the chief of Israel numbered, after their families, and after the house of their fathers,  From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that came to do the service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congregation.  Even those that were numbered of them, were eight thousand and five hundred and fourscore,  According to the commandment of the LORD they were numbered by the hand of Moses, every one according to his service, and according to his burden: thus were they numbered of him, as the LORD commanded Moses.  Numbers 4:37-49

As every family and every member of the family has purpose, the elements of the tabernacle also represent purpose.  We have the description from back in Exodus:

Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.  Exodus 26:1

This inner layer is visible in the tabernacle, and shows the best decorations.   These may represent Christ’s righteousness.  The decorations are embroidered images of the cherubim which may represent God’s holiness.

And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make.  Exodus 26:7

We know the scapegoat took away the sins of Israel from Leviticus.  Similarly, Jesus takes our sins away.

And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.  But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.  Leviticus 16:9-10

The last two layers complete this picture:

 And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins.  Exodus 26:14

The rams skins speak of an offering, especially died red as the blood of sacrifice.  We may remember from Genesis that Abraham offered a ram in the place of his son:

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.  Genesis 22:13

The badger (or sea mammal?) skins are the last covering against the storms of life.  We too have such coverings.  Our heart is given to Jesus to occupy within our best holiness.  That is covered by the blood of sacrifice of the ram of God.  The outer layer of covering is that unattractive person who we despised, yet is our protection from the storms of sin. 

 

REFERENCES

http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_Curtain_Coverings.htm

http://www.templebuilders.com/Index_Tabernacle_of_Moses_6.php

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=19&letter=T

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionaries/dict_meaning.php?source=3&wid=S7130

http://www.hopeofisrael.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=31

 

COMMISSION AND REDEMPTION

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DETAILS OF SERVICE

God continues to set the armies of Israel in order for battle.  Israel is a nation, and the organization is military in nature.  Standards or flags will identify the groups and their commander’s directions in battle.

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,  Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.  Numbers 2:1-2

Each family house shall have a flag or standard.  They camp together so they can follow this visible indicator of the direction of march and battle.  When the confusion of battle sets on them, they will have a signal of attack direction above all that is going on. 

And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah.  And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred.  And those that do pitch next unto him shall be the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel the son of Zuar shall be captain of the children of Issachar.  And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred.  Numbers 2:3-6

 All the tribes are told to camp on this pattern, by the standard of their family name.  The Levites are not numbered as warriors though.  They are responsible for combat on a higher plane. 

These are those which were numbered of the children of Israel by the house of their fathers: all those that were numbered of the camps throughout their hosts were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.  But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses.  And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers.  Numbers 2:32-34

The priestly families after Aaron and Levi are named and set aside.  Not all will be fit for service though.

These also are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the LORD spake with Moses in mount Sinai.  And these are the names of the sons of Aaron; Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.  These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest’s office.  And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest’s office in the sight of Aaron their father.  Numbers 3:1-4

You may remember that this incident was reported in Leviticus 10, my lesson number 39.  God does not ask us for sacrifice other than what he has told us to do.  Obedience is greater than sacrifice or clever religious ideas.  God speaks for himself on religious matters.  He will give us instructions and expects us to obey them.  We don’t invent our own way.  God has appointed some to lead in worship though, and they have their directions from him. 

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.  And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle.  And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.  And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel.  And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.  Numbers 3:5-10

In this time God has warned them not to allow anyone but the sons of Levi to approach the things of ministry.  This was a time especially to demonstrate man’s best effort to be obedient under law.  The law could not be corrupted by false teachings.  The leaders of spiritual warfare had to follow the same discipline the other warriors had.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;  Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the LORD.  Numbers 3:11-13

These are exclusively the priesthood for this time of law.  They are dedicated to God only.

 

And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying,  Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them.  And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD, as he was commanded.  And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari.  And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their families; Libni, and Shimei.  And the sons of Kohath by their families; Amram, and Izehar, Hebron, and Uzziel.  And the sons of Merari by their families; Mahli, and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to the house of their fathers.  Of Gershon was the family of the Libnites, and the family of the Shimites: these are the families of the Gershonites.  Those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred.  Numbers 3:14-22

 

These families were assigned specific areas of service to God:

 

The families of the Gershonites shall pitch behind the tabernacle westward.  And the chief of the house of the father of the Gershonites shall be Eliasaph the son of Lael.  And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,  And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof.  Numbers 3:23-26

 

All the furnishings of the tabernacle were assigned to families as well:

 

And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izeharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites: these are the families of the Kohathites.  In the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were eight thousand and six hundred, keeping the charge of the sanctuary.  The families of the sons of Kohath shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle southward.  And the chief of the house of the father of the families of the Kohathites shall be Elizaphan the son of Uzziel.  And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof.  Numbers 3:27-31

 

And Aaron’s son was to supervise them all.

 

And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary.  Numbers 3:32

 

Again the Lord assigns tabernacle responsibilities to families of the Levites:

 

Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites: these are the families of Merari.  And those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred.  And the chief of the house of the father of the families of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail: these shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward.  And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto,  And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords.  Numbers 3:33-37

 

One area and responsibility is exclusively for Moses and the High Priesthood:

 

But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.  All that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD, throughout their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names.  Numbers 3:38-40

 

They were responsible to protect the tabernacle from strangers who might profane it.  This death penalty is required by God, showing the importance he placed on it.

 

And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the LORD) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel.  And Moses numbered, as the LORD commanded him, all the firstborn among the children of Israel.  And all the firstborn males by the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen.  Numbers 3:41-43

 

Do we still respect this kind of warning God has placed on his words today?  The New Testament church also had occasions when believers lied and were slain.  We embrace our fellow Christians until they are revealed as liars.  We feel violated by the revelation of deceit in our ranks.  Yet Jesus told us to let the weeds grow among us, promising to do the weeding himself.  He alone knows the good plants among us, as scruffy as some of us are.  We still need to be ready to receive a fallen brother back without fear too.  We are offered such a great treasure, that no one can steal that from us.  We are not vulnerable to liars, because we have a provider.  We will never be left robbed.

 

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD.  And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites;  Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:)  And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons.  And Moses took the redemption money of them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites:  Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:  And Moses gave the money of them that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses. Numbers 3:44-51

 

If anyone decides to take his investment back, the Lord allows it.  What we have committed to his service can be redeemed back to us at any time.  Consider how this small investment may pay dividends though.

 

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.  Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.  And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.  But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.  And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:  And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.  For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.  And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Matthew 25:14-30

 

If we can commit our lives or dedicate our children to God, isn’t this good?  Perhaps some will want to back out or redeem themselves from serving God.  But the rewards are out of this world.

 

 

 

MEASURE OF FAITH

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PREPARE TO MARCH ORDER

God now tells Moses to measure the nation.  There is a time when God wants us to measure
our readiness for war.  I find my life
gaining strength now, and blessings returning after a long ordeal.  Like Israel, I am being strengthened for
more challenges ahead.  I am seeing a
ministry forming now as well.  I have
identified activities that people are willing to explore in groups.  At one time I have formed a group to offer outdoor
bible studies and fitness to the community.
Another group on Facebook offers a career adventure in aerospace
industries.  We can tour the bible from
Genesis to Revelation in this.

Offering to serve that which the world needs (the Word of
God)
is a step of faith.  This bible
study is a step in that direction for me.
We can share that faith by being a good example, without being
“preachy”.  Offering to small groups
keeps the cost low, and the opportunity within reach.  This represents the outreach, an opportunity
to go on the offensive.  The unrepentant world
may be offended in fact.  We simply offer
the words of Jesus without force, so those few who are his sheep will know their masters voice.  You can offer services in your own church
community.  Perhaps you can get friends
to try hands on bible study in new surroundings like hiking or camping.  A retreat to a rented cabin can provide
campfire bible studies and skits.  Even a
picnic can glimpse the spirit of the feast of Tabernacles.

If the church has nurtured our faith, we can be a light to
the world.  We will be ready to war
against the spirits without engaging in battle against people.  When God has shown us his “basic training” of
faith we will be sent into battle.  Moses
now counts the armies by their family divisions.

And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai,
in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in
the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,  Take ye the sum of
all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the
house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their
polls;  From twenty years old and upward,
all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number
them by their armies.  And with you there
shall be a man of every tribe; every
one head of the house of his fathers.  Numbers 1:1-4

God ordered this census and made Moses learn how large the
nation has become.  But it is a count of
warriors, not just the general population.
They are being prepared for battle.
God makes orders for who will be in leadership; he ordains leadership.

And these are the names of the
men that shall stand with you: of the tribe of Reuben; Elizur the son of
Shedeur.  Of Simeon; Shelumiel the son of
Zurishaddai.  Of Judah; Nahshon the son of
Amminadab.  Of Issachar; Nethaneel the
son of Zuar.  Of Zebulun; Eliab the son
of Helon.  Of the children of Joseph: of
Ephraim; Elishama the son of Ammihud: of Manasseh; Gamaliel the son of
Pedahzur.  Of Benjamin; Abidan the son of
Gideoni.  Of Dan; Ahiezer the son of
Ammishaddai.  Of Asher; Pagiel the son of
Ocran.  Of Gad; Eliasaph the son of
Deuel.  Of Naphtali; Ahira the son of
Enan.  These
were the renowned of the congregation, princes of the

tribes of their fathers, heads
of thousands in Israel.  And Moses
and Aaron took these men which are expressed by their names:  And they assembled all the congregation together
on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after
their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the
names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls.  As the LORD commanded Moses, so he numbered
them in the wilderness of Sinai. 

Numbers 1:5-19

The numbers of the tribes are impressive, but they will not
all make the journey ahead of them.  God
is not impressed by numbers, but he will make a point in this.  These are the armies that began the march
fromEgypt:

And the children of Reuben, Israel’s eldest son, by their
generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to
the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and
upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Reuben, were
forty and six thousand and five hundred.

 

Of the children of Simeon, by their generations, after
their families, by the house of their fathers, those that were numbered of
them, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from
twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;  Those that were numbered of them, even of the
tribe of Simeon, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred. 

 

Of the children of Gad, by their generations, after their
families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names,
from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;  Those that were numbered of them, even of the
tribe of Gad, were forty and five thousand six hundred and fifty. 

 

Of the children of Judah, by their generations, after
their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the
names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to
war;  Those that were numbered of them,
even of the tribe of Judah, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six
hundred. 

 

Of the children of Issachar, by their generations, after
their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the
names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to
war;  Those that were numbered of them,
even of the tribe of Issachar, were fifty and four thousand and four
hundred. 

 

Of the children of Zebulun, by their generations, after
their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the
names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to
war;  Those that were numbered of them,
even of the tribe of Zebulun, were fifty and seven thousand and four
hundred. 

 

Of the children of Joseph, namely, of the children of
Ephraim, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their
fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and
upward, all that were able to go forth to war;
Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Ephraim, were
forty thousand and five hundred.

 

Of the children of Manasseh, by their generations, after
their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the
names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to
war;  Those that were numbered of them,
even of the tribe of Manasseh, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred.

 

Of the children of Benjamin, by their generations, after
their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the
names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to
war;  Those that were numbered of them,
even of the tribe of Benjamin, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.

 

Of the children of Dan, by their generations, after their
families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names,
from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;  Those that were numbered of them, even of the
tribe of Dan, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred.

 

Of the children of Asher, by their generations, after
their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the
names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to
war;  Those that were numbered of them,
even of the tribe of Asher, were forty and one thousand and five hundred.

 

Of the children of Naphtali, throughout their
generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to
the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able
to go forth to war;  Those that were
numbered of them, even of the tribe of Naphtali, were fifty and three thousand
and four hundred.

 

These are those that were numbered, which Moses and Aaron
numbered, and the princes of Israel,
being twelve men: each one was for the house of his fathers.

Numbers 1:20-44

As with our churches, many are called, but only a few will
stand out in service.  Some of these will
be leaders who take foolish sheep astray.
They will not see the Promised Land.
Others will be heroic in their faith and deeds.  They will do exploits.

So were all those that were numbered of the children of
Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all
that were able to go forth to war in Israel;
Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.  But the Levites
after the tribe of their fathers were
not numbered among them
.  For the
LORD had spoken unto Moses, saying,  Only thou shalt not
number the tribe of Levi
, neither take the
sum of them among the children of Israel:
But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and
over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall
bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto
it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle.  And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the
Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the
Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to
death.  And the children of Israel
shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own
standard, throughout their hosts.  But
the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be
no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep
the charge of the tabernacle of testimony.  

Numbers 1:45-53

This seems like a statement from God.  The Levites guard us on the spiritual
front.  They are not to be called to
combat because they are already engaged in the most critical part of the front; spiritual warfare.

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron,
saying,  Every
man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign
of their father’s house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall
they pitch.  And on the east side toward
the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon
the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah.  And his host, and those that were numbered of
them, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred.  And those that do pitch next unto him shall
be the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel the son of Zuar shall be captain of the
children of Issachar.  And his host, and
those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred.  Then the tribe of Zebulun: and Eliab the son
of Helon shall be captain of the children of Zebulun.  And his host, and those that were numbered
thereof, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.  All that were numbered in the camp of Judah
were an hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four
hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth.  On the south side shall be the standard of
the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children
of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur.
And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were forty and six
thousand and five hundred.  And those
which pitch by him shall be the tribe of Simeon: and the captain of the
children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.  And his host, and those that were numbered of
them, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.  Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the
sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel.
And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and five
thousand and six hundred and fifty.  All
that were numbered in the camp of Reuben were an hundred thousand and fifty and
one thousand and four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. And they
shall set forth in the second rank.  Then
the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the
Levites in the midst of the camp: as they encamp, so shall they set forward,
every man in his place by their standards.
On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according
to their armies: and the captain of the sons of Ephraim shall be Elishama the
son of Ammihud.  And his host, and those
that were numbered of them, were forty thousand and five hundred.  And by him shall be the tribe of Manasseh:
and the captain of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of
Pedahzur.  And his host, and those that
were numbered of them, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred.  Then the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain
of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni.  And his host, and those that were numbered of
them, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.  All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim
were an hundred thousand and eight thousand and an hundred, throughout their
armies. And they shall go forward in the third
rank.  The standard of the camp of Dan
shall be on the north side by their armies: and the captain of the children of
Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.  And his host, and those that were numbered of
them, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred.  And those that encamp
by him shall be the tribe of Asher: and the captain of the children of Asher
shall be Pagiel the son of Ocran.
And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and one
thousand and five hundred.  Then the
tribe of Naphtali: and the captain of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira
the son of Enan.  And his host, and those
that were numbered of them, were fifty and three thousand and four
hundred.  All they that were numbered in
the camp of Dan were an hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six
hundred. They shall go hindmost with their
standards.  These are those which were
numbered of the children of Israel
by the house of their fathers: all those that were numbered of the camps
throughout their hosts were six  hundred
thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.  But the Levites were not numbered among the
children of Israel;
as the LORD commanded Moses.  And the
children of Israel
did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their
standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according
to the house of their fathers.  Numbers
2:1-34

God does not always ask us to count our strength.  When Israelhad strength and peace,
there was no need to measure your armies.
Perhaps this is a temptation to aggression against neighbors that God
does not want.  He was not happy when David
numbered his armies, but God inspired
David’s actions.

And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say,
Go, number Israel and Judah.  2 Samuel 24:1

Joab did David’s bidding, with regrets.

And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto
the king: and there were in Israel
eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah
were five hundred thousand men.  And
David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said
unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech
thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very
foolishly.  2 Samuel 24:9-10

So there is a time when God will require us to consider the
armies and their size for his service.
Other times are not right for us to consider massing our forces.  It is all determined by knowing God’s
will.  We are an army under authority,
requiring instructions from God.  Seeking
his will is the key to success in everything.
Like the armies of this world, we
need
to get orders from God before
we can begin the march.

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