More numberings take place – this time Moses numbers the Levitical sons of Kohath, Gershon, and Merrari, those who were between the ages of thirty and fifty years old, “…all who enter the service to do the work in the tabernacle of meeting.” (Numbers 4:3)
We get to read about the specific responsibilities of each family, and even some of the details on the way they were to take down and transport the tabernacle. It’s fascinating!
When it comes to the Holy Place and Most Holy Place, the sons of Aaron were to cover the Ark of the Testimony with badger skins and a blue cloth, and insert it’s poles for the sons of Kohath to carry. They were to do the same with the Table of Showbread, covering it with a scarlet cloth, the Lampstand was to be covered with a blue cloth, the Golden Altar with a blue cloth, and the ashes were to be carried away in a purple cloth.
The LORD is very meticulous with details – perhaps the scarlet points to the blood, the blue to heaven, and the purple a mixture of both? We even see glimpses of our Redeemer (Matthew 27:28; Mark 15:17).
The poles were provided so that the Kohathites were able to carry the items without touching them, for if they touched them, they would die; we read the warning in:
Numbers 4:15 (NKJV) “And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These are the things in the tabernacle of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry.”
Later in the Bible we’ll read the account of Uzzah touching the Ark of the Covenant because he didn’t want it to fall to the ground. He thought he was holier than the dirt, apparently he wasn’t (none of us are), and he died for touching it (2 Samuel 6:6-7). Another time the children of Israel looked into the Ark and there was therefore a great slaughter – the children of Israel should have know better; only the sons of Aaron were allowed to see and touch these holy items, and even they had to approach these symbols of God’s presence in the prescribed way.
Everyone had their duty – the son of Aaron (Numbers 4:16), the sons of Kohath, the sons of Gershon, and the sons of Merari – we all do, in the vast Kingdom of God (Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Peter 4:10).
Numbers 5 covers what we might consider to be a bizarre law/ceremony to be conducted when a husband suspects his wife has been unfaithful to him. Considering the context of Theocracy (a nation directly governed by God) it’s not unreasonable to expect supernatural revelation woven within the law. One time I was contacted by a friend who suspected their spouse was being unfaithful – they were having a very difficult time with this. I had to tell him that God would make it clear, He would bring it to light. He always does (Numbers 32:23).
Warren Wiersbe, “This unusual law protected the woman as well as sanctified the marriage relationship. Husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. Marriage is an intimate relationship, and even hidden unfaithfulness can create a spirit of jealousy and doubt. If the wife was guilty, the truth would come out; if not, the husband could trust her, and they could live together and have a family. We have no such laws today, but we have an all-seeing God to whom we will answer one day.”
I’m sure you’ve heard that old joke about the Sadducees, because they didn’t believe in angels, spirits, or life after death (Acts 23:8), that’s why there were “sad-you-see?”
But it’s true, they didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they question Jesus about the Levirate law which legislated for a brother to marry his sister-in-law if his brother died and had no children. Children were to carry on the family name and take care of their parents when they aged – this was their form of Social Security. So in the context of this law, the Sadducees share a story of a woman who had seven husbands and no children – their question was whose wife would she be in heaven? In this, they questioned the very idea of heaven Their problem was they didn’t know the power or Word of God.
Mark 12:24 (NKJV) “Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?”
Those are the simple reasons people are confused – they don’t know the Bible, and they don’t know God. For one, Jesus explains that in heaven there is no longer human marriage, that in this sense we will be like the angels – not that we lose our genders, but we won’t marry or be given in marriage.
Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Marriage is necessary and suitable for the present world order, in which death prevails, in order to continue the human race. But angels, whose existence the Sadducees denied (cf. Acts 23:8), are deathless and live in a different order of existence where they have no need for marital relations or reproduction of offspring.”
For some, this is a tough truth to deal with. I remember talking to one couple who left a church because they couldn’t swallow this truth. I had to tell them this IS what the Bible teaches and we believe that too. I like to tell my wife, we might not be married, but we can still be BFFs in heaven (after the Lord of course).
Jesus goes on to confirm the resurrection of the dead (yes, there is an eternal afterlife) by pointing out the fact that the Bible refers to God as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Jesus reasons:
Mark 12:27 (NKJV) “He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”
Jesus is next questioned about the greatest commandment of all…and it’s all about love; to love the LORD, truly, totally, wholeheartedly love the LORD, just love Him. And (in case you’re interested) the second is like it, if we love the Lord, it stands to reason, we will love ALL others; this is the summary of all the law, it really is as simple as that!
In closing, Jesus gives them something to think about when it comes to a title they’d always given the Messiah, referring to Him as the “Son of David.” If the Messiah is simply David’s descendant, why did David refer to Him as Lord in Psalm 110:1? Jesus was calling them (and us) to dig deeper into the Word, if they did, they would discover that the Messiah is both the root and offspring of David (Isaiah 11:1; Revelation 22:16) – Jesus is the Son of David and the Son of God.
This Psalm is all about God and His city – the city of God – Jerusalem!
“In the city of our God…” (Psalm 48:1, 8)
“The city of the great King…” (Psalm 48:2)
“The city of the LORD of Hosts…” (Psalm 48:8)
Of course in that city, living right there along with the King are the citizens of the Kingdom. Such a beautiful reference to Israel’s Jerusalem, and Heaven’s Jerusalem. God will defend Jerusalem and establish it – forever! The city we will all dwell in forever and ever in heaven, is Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:10 (NKJV) “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”
I’ll never forget visiting Israel, and the first time I saw Jerusalem, it brought tears to my eyes. It all points to a God who loves us so much that He wants to live with us, and will be with us, and be gracious to us, to guide us to our home in “Jerusalem.”
Psalm 48:14 (NKJV) “For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”
Their version of vinegar was very, very annoying to the teeth, just as smoke annoys the eyes.
There’s something else that’s annoying, even to the Almighty, and that is the lazy messenger, who’s not faithfully, accurately giving God’s Word, not delivering the Master’s message, not willing to labor in study and prayer. This is annoying to the Almighty, it grieves God and one day they/we teachers will give an account.
So James warns:
James 3:1 (NKJV) “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.