Sorry it’s been awhile to whoever may be reading. I enjoyed the long weekend with my family and then had to play catch up on other duties. But let’s jump back into it.
Thus far in Numbers, God is organizing the Israelites. He is counting them and setting them in organized groups. He is creating His army to take the Promised Land. Each group of 3 tribes has an order to move in. Remember, they camp for awhile and then when God tells them to move, they move. This is the order for that. Could you imagine the chaos if God just told them to go but didn’t organize it! Us more administratively minded would be twitching! In the last two chapters they also counted everyone but the Levites, and totaled 603,550. In these two chapters they count all the Israelites at 22,000 making the total number 625,550.
Unlike the other tribes, the Israelites responsibility when they move camp is to move the tabernacle. These two chapters give us a very detailed account of how they did this. Each section within the Levites were given different areas of responsibility. And now the Levites are counted as they are organized. Now for today I did some math- I know that last time we talked about the debate about the numbers, but God put them in there and so I am going to use them as is. I don’t think we need to be super concerned. Keep in mind that the Levites were the only ones that could participate in much of what happened at the tabernacle. Anyone else will be killed for being us consecrated and defiling God’s dwelling place. Do you remember that? So if we do the math, on,y 3.5% of the whole Israelite population is consecrated to be working at the tabernacle. I don’t know about you, but putting it in that way highlights even more to me how holy of an experience God’s dwelling place was.
Now we read these chapters and see the jobs that the Levites are given when it is time to move camp. And the Kohathites are the ones that are in charge of the “care of the most holy things”. These are the things behind the curtain in the holiest place. They are instructed to cover each of these things in very specific cloth before they moved them. It says that if the other Levites even saw these things they would die. So even among the consecrated priests, there were still pieces of the tabernacle that were so holy that they would die if they even saw them! The Kohathites were the only ones that were allowed to see these things. And thanks to some math, they represented 0.44% of the Israelite population. So only 44 people out of 10,000 were allowed to even look at the most holy of things, and even though covering and carrying things is not the most glamorous job- it was a very special one.
So jumping forward in history- much much later- Jesus dies on the cross. And after He takes His final breath the curtain in the temple is torn. Now if you’re like me, you’ve heard the significance of this, that it was the curtain that separated the most holy place in the temple. The tearing of the curtain signifies that now everyone has access to the holiest of places where God dwells. Which even this most basic explanation hold a lot of weight, these two chapters in Numbers added some extra weight to it for me. The curtain that was torn is the same curtain that separated the Kohathites and the most holy things from the rest of the Levites. The curtain hid those most holy things was the view of the other Levites because even seeing them would cause death- they were that holy. So Jesus’ death is not just giving us access to the temple in general. It gives us access to God’s dwelling place (AWEOMSE!), but it also allows us to see the most holy things that even priests couldn’t look upon.
Because of Jesus we are God’s dwelling place. He lives in us and goes with us as believers. We have constant access to Him- we don’t have to travel to a tabernacle or temple to meet Him. But just as we have the opportunity to be God’s dwelling place, we also now have the opportunity to see and touch and experience the most holy of things. The things that would have killed people in the Old Testament because they were so holy- we now can experience! I don’t know about you, but it sheds light on the gravity of what we have access to as believers. And also convicts me that my life looks nothing like it should with these realities.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Numbers 5, 6