“So Moses took the carts and the oxen and gave them to the Levites………..But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because theirs was the service of the holy things, which they carried on their shoulders.” Numbers 7:6,9
The people of Israel were a mobile people during this period of their history. They moved frequently from one place to the next as God directed. This must have become tiresome, as they were continuously taking apart, packing up, carrying, unpacking and setting back up. Over and over and over.
In addition to their own households, the Levites also had the responsibility of moving the tabernacle. The three divisions, Gershon, Merari and Kohath, were each assigned specific areas of the tabernacle that they were responsible for. Kohath was responsible for the contents – the holy items. Nobody else was allowed to draw so near to the furniture and utensils of the tabernacle. And not even the Kohathites could come near until these things were covered with a blue cloth and a covering of badger skins. But once the coverings were in place, the Kohathites handled the holy things until they reached the next destination. I wonder if there was a sense of awe accompanying this charge.
The tabernacle furnishings had been fashioned with rings on the corners so that pole could be inserted. This allowed for the furnishings to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites as the Israelites travelled.
When the leaders of Israel felt moved to make an offering to the Lord of carts and oxen, the Lord instructed Moses to give these to the Levites. The sons of Gershon were given carts and oxen, and the sons of Merari were given carts and oxen. But the sons of Kohath were not given carts or oxen. Reason would tell us that since theirs was the most important part of the tabernacle that they should have been the first to receive carts and oxen. Why did they receive nothing?
I wonder if the Lord wanted them to continually be reminded of the weighty responsibility of handling the holy things, lest they should become careless or thoughtless in the handling of them.
We are entrusted with holy things as well. God has given us His Word and His Spirit. How are we handling these? Have we just tossed them into a cart to be hauled around, requiring nothing from us? Oh, but God has desired us to feel the weightiness. It is a weightiness that is not wearisome, but serves as a reminder of how very holy these holy things are.
No carts and oxen for me.