Numbers 7-8

Sunday Evening Bible Study

December 7, 1997

Introduction

The book of Numbers is the history of Israel during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. It is called "Numbers" because twice Israel is numbered, once at the beginning of the forty years, and once at the end.

Weíve seen how at the beginning, God is in the process of organizing this nation of delivered slaves into a lean, mean fighting machine.

Numbers 7

:1-11 Giving gifts

:1 on the day...

This take place a month previous, when the tabernacle was first set up.

:3 carts...

Each tribe contributed to giving the Levites six carts and twelve oxen for hauling around the tabernacle.

:7 Two carts...Gershon

Their duties were to carry all the material for the tabernacle, the tent cloth walls, etc.

:8 four carts...Merari

Their duties were to carry all the boards and supporting materials for the tabernacle. They got four carts because their stuff was bigger and heavier.

:9 Kohath - no carts

Their ministry was to carry all the tabernacle interior furnishings - the altars, golden table, lamp, ark, etc.

2Sam.6; 1Chr.13 - David moving the ark incorrectly.

The Kohathites carried the very intimate things tying man's relationship with God.

I wonder if God is concerned that the ministry should be on the shoulders of men rather than being carried by oxen.

:12-17 Judah's gifts

Contents:

Silver plate - 130 shekels, worth about $260 at $5.00 per ounce. Plate filled with flour and oil.

Silver bowl Ė 70 shekels, worth about $140. Bowl filled with flour and oil.

Gold pan (or, "gold ladle"), worth $1800 at $450 an ounce. Filled with incense.

A bull, a ram, a male lamb one year old, all for burnt offerings.

A male goat for a sin offering.

Two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old, all for peace offerings.

:18-83 Twelve days of gifts

Is this like the twelve days of Christmas? J

Contents of gifts Ė Each tribe gave the exact same set of gifts

The order of tribes:

Corresponds exactly with the placement of the tribes around the tabernacle - see chapter 2.

:84-88 Summary of gifts

Take the gifts, times twelve...

Why does Moses take time to write down what each of the twelve tribes brings? Couldnít he just summarize it all? Is this their IRS receipt for tax deductions?

Lesson:

Your gifts are precious to God.

I think God has Moses record all this because these gifts are precious to Him, and He takes note of each gift given to Him.

Donít forget that Jesus noticed the person who gave the most valuable gift of the day in the temple.

Mark 12:41-44 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. {42} And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. {43} And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: {44} For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Her gift, though only two pennies, was very valuable to the Lord, and He even took time to point it out to the disciples.

:89 God talks to Moses

This verse gives a little clue as to the actual way that God spoke to Moses.

When Moses went into the tabernacle ("the tent of meeting", as in meeting with God), Moses heard God's voice coming from a spot above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim.

The ark was to be a picture of God's throne.

In the box was the Ten Commandments, the lid on the box was called the "mercy seat".

Molded on the seat were two gold angels, cherubim, pictures of the very angels in heaven that surround Godís throne.

This was all exactly like God had promised:

Ex 25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which [are] upon the ark of the testimony, of all [things] which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Lesson:

Commune with God.

We, too, can commune with God between the cherubim.

It happens in the realm of the Spirit.

(Heb 10:19-22 KJV) Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, {20} By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; {21} And having an high priest over the house of God; {22} Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

It happens in our hearts, through faith.

Numbers 8

:1-4 Lamp instructions

:2 the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick

NAS - give light in front...

Somehow the lamps were directional in giving off light, they could be aimed.

Aaron was to be sure that the lamps were giving off light in front of them.

Lesson:

Let your light be seen.

Mat 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. {15} Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. {16} Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We are lights in this world. God doesn't want us shining our light behind our back, but out in front.

Make sure that when people see your good works, they are glorifying God, not you.

Phil 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: {15} That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

One way of shining out that light is by not grumbling or arguing with people.

:5-26 Levite instructions

:6 Take the Levites

Who are the Levites, how does this apply to us?

One of the twelve tribes, the same tribe as Moses and Aaron.

Those who served as priests, from Aaron's family, were a part of this tribe.

All priests were Levites, not all Levites were priests.

Those who weren't priests served as assistants, helpers to the priests, in their duties.

Though the New Testament doesn't really have these kinds of distinctions (we are all priests), we all are to be in ministry of one kind of another.

This section of Scripture will show us how the Levites were ordained, how they would "get into ministry".

:7 to cleanse them

They were to be shaved

Some think this simply means getting their hair trimmed. Apparently there is another Hebrew word, other than the one used, to signify actual shaving.

Sprinkled with water.

Could mean taking a bath.

Could refer to the sprinkling of the ashes of the red heifer (Num.19)

Clothes washed.

This all deals with the outward cleansing, what people can see (or smell).

Lesson:

Keep the outside clean too.

Lots of times we correctly put an emphasis on making sure weíre clean on the inside (Matt 23:25-28), but thereís value to keeping the outside clean as well.

It's important to God that when people see you and the way you behave, that they don't mistake you for a dope dealer or a prostitute.

When you're witnessing to a friend at work, they should SEE a difference in your life.

The outward can be an indication of what's going on inside.

(Mat 7:15-17 KJV) Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. {16} Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? {17} Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

If someone were to try to find out what you were like on the inside, the only indication they have is what kind of fruit they see coming out of your life.

We need to be careful of what kind of appearances we give, yet what people see are only an indication of what's on the inside.

(1 Th 5:22 KJV) Abstain from all appearance of evil.

:10 bring Ö put their hands upon the Levites

Here the laying on of hands by the elders signified that the nation was bestowing upon the Levites the power to represent them before God.

Laying hands on someone or an animal carried the idea that you were investing yourself into that person or animal.

Here the idea is that the Levites were to represent the entire nation when they stood before the Lord.

Lesson:

Ministry is all about representing others.

You may be representing people before God, as in prayer.

You may be representing God before people, as in reaching out to others, comforting, encouraging, helping.

As a worship leader, I can often tell whether or not Iíve done my job by the things people pray.

If they pray things like, "Thank you God for such cool worship leaders", then Iíve failed.

If instead the people are talking directly to the Lord ("Thank you God for being so wonderful to us Ö"), then I know Iíve done my purpose, in representing God to the people, in leading them into Godís presence.

Itís not about attracting attention to me, I am only a representative of another.

:11 offer the Levites Ö for an offering

NAS Ė "Aaron then shall present the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering"

Do you think the Levites all got together and did "the wave" (a la Angel stadium)? Not

The idea of a "wave offering" was that you would take the offering and wave it backward and forward over your head, as if you were tossing it to the Lord.

The item wasn't actually "given" to the Lord, as say the burnt offering. Instead of being totally consumed by the flames, it was more of a symbolic giving to the Lord, while the item was then used for some earthly purpose.

In a sense, the Levites were to be a "living sacrifice" to the Lord.

They were "given" to God as an offering, but they still were to have an earthly purpose to fulfill.

(Rom 12:1-2 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Our bodies are to belong to God, yet they are still to serve an earthly purpose, serving God.

:12 "Now the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls;

Now the Levites are "investing" themselves into these animals, so they might serve as substitutes for them in these sacrifices.

:19 that there may be no plague among the children of Israel

God's holiness requires that people be holy when they approach Him.

The Levites were supposed to be careful to be holy, so they could do their job of ministry.

:23-26 twenty-five to fifty years

This is for the actual service in the tabernacle. For the service of hauling the tabernacle around in the desert, the age span was 30 to 50.

It's not that a person over fifty can't do ministry. The age requirement here is only because of the job. The job of a Levite was hard work, very physical - hauling around sides of beef, hauling wood for the fire, etc.

Lesson:

God your best, not your left-overs

The Levites were to serve in the prime of life.

"I'll serve God after I retire" Why wait until then? Why not now?