“These were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.”
After erecting the Tabernacle in he center of the camp, the Levites were divided into three groups each with important roles as it related to the ministry. Gershon was posted in the south, Kohath in the west, Merari in the north, and Moses and the priests were in the east at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Each family had different, yet equally as important roles. Gershon’s role was to carry the exterior coverings of the tabernacle. Kohath’s was to carry the utensils and Merari was responsible for all the heavy stuff.
If you couldn’t be a priest, for sure, the coolest role would be to carry the utensils. However, as time goes on we find that Kohathites complain about their role in the ministry. They were unhappy with the role they were called upon to play and began to covet the ministry of the priests.
Sadly, this happens often in the church. A person called by God to a particular area of ministry becomes envious of someone else’s position. This attitude leads to neglect and division. There could be no Tabernacle ministry without the carrying of the blocks, or the care of the articles of worship. If you are discouraged in your service, allow me to encourage you not to look for a new ministry, but to look at how you might be more faithful in your role. If you are a greeter, exercise the gift of hospitality and love each person that comes in the door of the church. Did you know that the word “hospitality” means “to love strangers?“ Make them feel welcomed and comfortable that when the Bible is taught they might receive what God has for them. If you serve as a children’s church leader, be a diligent student of the Word, and come prepared to teach the kids in a way that will turn them on to the Lord and His Word. There is no better training ground for the pulpit than the children’s classes.
Jesus taught us a very important principle of ministry. He said, those who were faithful in little will be faithful in much. This is one of the most important principles to learn if you are seeking to be used by God. Our church grew very slowly. When I arrived there were approximately 15 people, almost five years later there were 30 of us. It wasn’t because we were doing the wrong things, but because God had to do a work in me before He could work through me. I had to learn to love, care for and minister to 15 sheep before the Lord would give me the care of more. That is the same for all of us. We need to learn to be faithful in the little things and remember that promotion comes from the Lord.
“Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his father’s house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting.”
God organized the campsite of Israel. The center of the camp was the tabernacle with the tribes encamped around it. Two basic principles governed setting up camp. First, the Lord was the central focus, every family was to camp within sight of the Tabernacle. They could hear the events transpire, smell the sacrifices and easily be part of what transpired there on a daily basis. Second, they were to camp under a particular banner or standard. Each tribe gathered with other tribes as they camped around the tabernacle .
It is easy to derive some clear application for our lives and our families. When you are setting up camp it is important to keep Jesus at the center. If you are having a difficult time doing this personally, it is unlikely you are doing this within your family. If you find that your spouse or children are drifting from the Lord, it might have something to do with the fact that you have also drifted away. The first step to establishing stability within the home is to put Jesus at the center of our personal lives. One way to do that is to take a quick inventory of your life. Is there anything you are involved in which is not pleasing to the Lord? If so, lay it at the cross and walk away. You will be forgiven and set free. The psalmist asked the Lord to search him in order to lead him down the right path (Pslam 139:23-24). Another way to do this is to return to your first love, and follow the example of Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to His word. Reestablish a daily time to sit with Jesus, hear Him speak from the pages of your Bible and enjoy His company.
Remember, Israel also camped together around the tabernacle. It is also important to get yourself and your family plugged into a good and healthy church, where you can be challenged and encouraged. It is there, where you should work to establish good relationships for yourself and your children. Too often we find people arrive late, leave early and wonder why the family loses interest in fellowship. You are part of a much bigger camp, and the more plugged in you get, the more benefits you will receive.
“You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God.”
Every generation likes to think of themselves as advanced beyond the previous generations. We look back on ancient civilizations and think of them as backward, and of ourselves as having progressed far beyond them in every way. This is particularly true of idolatry. We, in the western world, do not think of ourselves as idol worshippers, particularly, because we do not have carved images which we carry in our pockets or bow down to in prayer. The absence of an image is not, however, the only evidence of the lack of idolatry. An idol can be anything that takes the place of God in our lives. For many, even dedicated believers, it is common to put someone or something above the Lord and to pursue it more than God.
One area in particular where Christians seem to be prone to setting up idols is in ministry. Over the years, I have observed many Christians who sense that God is calling them to serve in one way or another, but instead of sitting back and waiting on the Lord to open the right doors and to sanctify them for the tasks, they run on ahead of the Lord. They attempt to accomplish, in the arm of the flesh, what God wants to do through His Spirit. One of the great advantages of waiting on the Lord is, when He works things out, it is clear He was in fact “in it.” If we put the ministry above the Lord and strive to make things happen, we will forever wonder if it was truly God calling us or just us desiring something for ourselves.
I remember when my wife and I were preparing to move across the country for ministry, a good friend suggested that we ask our pastor if he would be willing to support us for a period of time. While I knew there might not be anything wrong with asking, I also knew we wanted to have every opportunity to see if this venture was actually of the Lord. We felt to ask for outside support did not give God the opportunity to prove if He was really calling us. I treasure that decision, because while there were many events over the next few years that caused us to question our calling, we can now see how God had been faithfully and miraculously providing for us, as a testimony of His calling.
If you are sensing the call of God on your life, be careful not to place the call above the Lord. Remember, ministry is designed not just to get things done, but to draw the minister closer to the Lord and accomplish a deeper work of sanctification in his life.
“Then they put him in custody, that the mind of the Lord might be shown to them.”
This chapter contains one of only two narrative passages in the book of Leviticus and tells the story of two men who were fighting. One man, the son of Shelomith allowed his anger to lead to sin and he blasphemed the name of the Lord. Under the old covenant this was a crime punishable by death. Because of the seriousness of his actions, he was placed in custody while the leaders took the necessary time to seek the mind of the Lord. Two important principles stand out to me.
First, before making a big decision, Moses and his leadership team took the necessary time to seek the Lord. They realized that God was interested in their lives and had a plan for their current situation. Years later Paul wrote that God has for-ordained good works for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). That means that He has a wonderful plan for our lives and if we seek Him, He will provide direction that will allow us to make good decisions and remain upon the narrow path that leads to abundant life.
Second, it is important to notice where they went to hear from the Lord. They did not look to past experience, or to the culture around them. They did not gather the people together for a popular vote or allow their emotions to guide them by “following their heart.” Instead they got alone with the Lord and looked into His written word. Their situation was a difficult one and the answer they received from the Word was hard, but they followed it nonetheless.
When we are seeking to make decisions, it would be a good idea to follow the pattern set here. We need to realize that God has a plan for us, but we also need to realize the details for that plan are found in Scripture. The life guided by the light of the Word of God is the life which will be led into the way everlasting.
Psalms 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”