Numbers 3-4
(Instructions for the Levites)
February 8th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Key Verses

The LORD said to Moses, “Bring forward the tribe of Levi and appoint them as servants of Aaron the priest. They shall do the work required for the Tent of my presence and perform duties for the priests and for the whole community.

- Numbers 3:5-7 (GNB)

Summary of Chapters

In chapters 3-4, God gives Moses very detailed instructions regarding how to organize the Levites. The Levites were dedicated to serving God and would be reporting to Aaron and his surviving sons. Each clan from the Levites was assigned specific responsibilities and a place to camp, as noted below:

Gershon Clan (2,630 men who served at the tent)

Kohath Clan (2,750 men who served at the tent)

Merarite Clan (3,200 men who served at the tent)

The LORD told Moses, Aaron, and Aaron's sons to camp on the east side of the tabernacle, where they could protect the entrance. Aaron and his sons were also given specific instructions for how to wrap the holy things of the sanctuary in preparation for each move of the camp.

In addition to the general census that had been recorded in chapters 1-2, Moses was also instructed to calculate the difference between the number of firstborn males across all the tribes compared to all of the sons of the Levites because the males of the Levites served in place of all of the firstborn males. The number of firstborn males was greater, so Moses had to collect redemption money to compensate for the difference:

In chapter 4, the LORD gave further instructions on how to break down the tabernacle when it was time to move to a new location. He also asked Moses to conduct another special census, this time it was a count of all of the Levites between 30 and 50, as these were the able-bodied men who would be responsible for the care and movement of the tabernacle.

Reflection and Application

God was managing the development of the nation of Israel by guiding the people one step at a time. He had created a set of rules and regulations for daily living and worship, as described in Exodus and Leviticus. He instructed the Israelites regarding the process of building the tabernacle, as described earlier, and defined the roles of the priests. One of the next steps was to create the support team for the priests so that they could be efficient at their jobs. At this point, the Israelites had a very well-designed organizational hierarchy. God was the Chief Executive Officer and Moses was his Chief Operational Officer – a dependable man who could be trusted to deliver the corporate messages and ensure that the commands are carried out.

Aaron and his surviving sons had specific clans for which they were responsible and those clans had received clear instructions on their roles. The rest of the community was responsible for generating food, participating in worship, and contributing to the tabernacle. One area of responsibility that was not yet assigned to anyone was acquisitions. If they were to enter the Promised Land they would need a leader and a team of people who would secure possession of it. We will see how this topic is addressed later in the book of Numbers.

Most mature organizations have hierarchies and defined roles and responsibilities. Oftentimes the unofficial lines of reporting and responsibilities are blurred, and in young organizations they may not be well-defined at all. These types of organizations can still succeed if everyone shares a common goal and respects one another. But if too many of the individuals are focused on their own goals then the organization fails. God has specific roles in mind for us to serve his broad mission. Some people may have a highly visible role, like Aaron and his sons, while others may be in the background, like the Merarite clan who were responsible for the frames and tent pegs of the tabernacle. However, despite the outward appearances and reporting relationships, none are more important than the other and all are expected to abide by God’s laws.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What was the nature of the responsibilities of your first job outside of your home?
    2. What are some of the ways that you have served God’s broad mission?
    3. In which type of roles do you feel most comfortable?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in Heaven, please help us to accept our responsibilities with humility and commitment .

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Construction workers

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Numbers 5-6 (Restitution, Nazirites, and Blessings)

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