Numbers 7
(Completion of the Tabernacle)
February 10th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

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 (KJV)

Summary of Chapters

Numbers chapter 7 describes the anointing and consecration of the temple. This story has been building up over the last few books. In Exodus, the LORD had instructed Moses regarding the specifications for a mobile tabernacle, prescribed all of its sacred contents, and defined the roles of the priests who would serve there. Moses then relayed that information to his people and they built the tabernacle, exactly as commanded.

In Leviticus, the LORD set down the rules for sacrifices, the role of the priest in sacrificial ceremonies, and cleanliness of the tribes. In that book, Moses ordained Aaron and his four sons, who became the first generation of priests. Two of the sons had short-lived careers because of their disobedience, but the others carried on their duties alongside their father.

After the anointment and consecration each tribe brought an equal amount of gifts and offerings, as described in Numbers 7:3 and forward. Moses allocated the gifts of working animals to the clans of the Levites according to the needs of their specific roles.

For example, the Merarites had the responsibility for transporting the heavy infrastructure of the tabernacle when the camp moved. Their load included tent posts, frames, and crossbars. Therefore, Moses gave them the largest number of oxen to bear that burden. The Gershonites were responsible for the heavy fabric, which included the outer covering of the tent and curtains. Therefore, Moses gave them a slightly smaller allocation of oxen to carry those items.

By contrast, the Kothatites were responsible for carrying the sacred objects, which had heavy spiritual significance, but were relatively light in weight. They were instructed to carry these on their shoulders - but without directly touching any of the sacred items. The priests would wrap the objects and the ark would be carried on two long poles so that no one touched it directly.

When the offerings were complete, Moses entered the tabernacle and the LORD spoke to him.

Reflection and Application

The 7th chapter of Numbers is significant as it records the completion of the life-cycle of the creation of the tabernacle. When the LORD revealed his presence to Moses in the inner chamber the tabernacle was complete. The 7th chapter is a fitting place for this account because this number represents completeness.

A complete tabernacle or church is more than just the structure and the staff that work there. The complete house of worship includes the congregation and the presence of God. In fact, a dedicated tent or brick and mortar building could be considered an optional component.

The early Christians met in each other's homes. Modern Christians often improvise. I have worshipped at churches that did not have their own building, but they had a dynamic congregation and welcomed the presence of the LORD every week. One of them also has a significant impact on the community through ministry to people sick, imprisoned, and homeless. At my own church, we have a worship service on a sand-filled beach in the summer time. There is no tent or permanent structure, just people, musical instruments, amplification equipment, and the presence of God in the cathedral he created.

We also notice from today’s reading that the complete tabernacle or church includes both giving and receiving. The house of worship receives offerings and distributes them to those who serve and those who are in need. All of the tribes brought equal shares of offerings because they would all share equally in using the tabernacle. Those who served at the temple received gifts according to their needs.

The allocation to the Levite tribes symbolizes the way God works with each of us, because a personal relationship with God also involves giving and receiving. Some of us have heavier burdens to bear, so he sends us more oxen, or the equivalent in physical or spiritual helpers. When this help is offered, we ought to remember to put our pride aside and accept the offer. Imagine if the Merarites declined the offer of the oxen, and said, “No thanks, we are strong men, we are Merarites, we will carry this stuff ourselves!” They may not have made it to the next camping spot and the whole community would have suffered.

After anointing and consecrating and collecting and distributing offerings, it was time for Moses to approach God. What did they discuss? Moses may have been ready to give thanks and ask for continued blessings. Maybe God praised Moses for following his instructions and serving as a good leader. Perhaps God was about to give Moses the details for the next phase of his master plan. Whatever the discussion may have been, it was a holy moment that included God speaking to Moses.

When we pray to God we can be assured that he always hears us. When we sincerely seek him, we can believe that we too can hear God’s specific messages for us. They may be in subtle forms that we only notice if we are aware, or it may be very direct, just like the dialogue with Moses. These conversations did not end with Moses. They continued with other people in the Bible and they continue today.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the biggest project in which have been involved (business, volunteer, or other)?
    2. What help has been offered to you this week that might have been unexpected?
    3. In what ways have you discerned specific messages for you from God this year?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in Heaven, please help us to accept the offers of help that you send us and listen for your voice.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Packers and Movers

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Numbers 8-10 (Everlasting Presence)

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