Handling the holy things

“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.

A comprehensive love plan

I enjoy waking up early when everything is quiet.  The chaos of life hasn’t had an opportunity to interject itself into my thoughts yet and my mind seems like still waters.  No ripples of worry, no fretting over tasks to be accomplished.  Just a blank slate waiting to be written upon. 

One of my first activities of the morning is to spend some time reading the Bible.  Once I begin preparing for work, I find that my mind continues to ponder the morning’s reading. 

Recently, my morning’s reading included this phrase – “love your enemies”.  I found that phrase rolling around in my thoughts that morning.   It was quickly followed by 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (v. 4-7)

As I thought on these two passages I realized how radical this was, and how far short I had fallen in living this.  I had considered that if I tolerated those who were unkind to me, which sometimes amounted to nothing more than ignoring them, that I had fulfilled the command to love my enemies.  But this type of treatment would not even reach the standard of what in previous generations had been considered mere common civility.

I have turned the command of the Lord, which is a command of action, into a passive command.  Matthew 5:44 gives these instructions:

Love your enemies
Bless those who curse you
Do good to those who hate you
Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.

So it seems to me that this passage, along with 1 Corinthians 13, gives us a comprehensive love plan.  Matthew 5 tells us what our outward, active response should be, and 1 Corinthians 13 instructs us as to a proper attitude of the heart.

The Lord, as usual, has covered all the bases.  Now all that remains is for me to obey.