Saturday, 22 February 2014

(54) February 23: Numbers 8-10 & Mark 5:1-20

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider how these events prepare the people to leave.

To ponder:
Everything is done exactly “as the LORD commanded.” First, the lamps are positioned so that they light the bread of the presence. The lamp stands in Revelation represent churches (Rev 1v12ff). So here they may represent the people in the presence of God, called to reflect his glory and be set-apart from the dark Gentile world. This remains our calling.
            The Levites are purified with washing and shaving. Then before the tent, God and all the people, they (presumably just the key men) are to lay hands on two bulls, and sacrifice them as a sin offering (for unintentional sin) and burnt offering (displaying devotion to God). Wave offerings are those presented to God by being literally “waved” in front of him. Not being burnt, they are then given by God to others. Here the Levites are a wave offering from the people, given to do the work of the tabernacle, and taken in place of the firstborn God redeemed during the Exodus. Their retirement age of fifty didn’t mean total cessation from work. However it would ensure the men remained fit enough to do the work properly. Although the priests not Levites offer the sacrifices, the Levites are still said to “make atonement” because their work makes the priests’ work possible. Within the church every member’s work depends on the others playing their part too (1 Cor 12).
            In the same month the tabernacle was dedicated, we’re told Israel celebrate the Passover, and God’s will is sought for those unable to because of uncleanness. They and those unable to partake because of a journey can celebrate a month later. However, all must be done as required. Moreover, no-one else is to miss the feast because it was the key way of remembering God’s deliverance. For similar reasons we might consider the importance of celebrating the Lord’s Supper (Heb 10v24-25). And Moses example of seeking God’s will encourages us to do so in scripture, when uncertain how to act.
             From the day the tabernacle was set up, God’s presence covered it in the pillar of cloud which looked like fire at night. It is repeatedly stressed how the people left when it lifted “”at the LORD’s command,” and camped when it settled. This stresses the people were led only by the LORD, once more commending his commands in scripture and his presence in the church for our guidance.
            The people were called together or urged to set out by trumpets. They also caused the LORD to “remember” the people when going into battle, and reflected their rejoicing by beginning their feasts. The NT speaks of preaching as assembling God’s people for battle like a trumpet (1 Cor 14v8); and of a trumpet calling the dead to life (Matt 24v31).
            Now jumping forward to day twenty of the second month of the second year since the Exodus, the cloud lifts and Israel sets out for three days, camping in the Desert of Paran. As commanded the first three tribes go first, then Levites with the tabernacle, so it could be raised before the holy things arrived (10v21). Three more tribes follow, with the Kohathites carrying “the most holy things” (including the ark) in the middle. Then come the final six tribes, in two groups of three. Moses persuades his brother-in-law to come too, to help find the best place to camp when the LORD halts the march. As with Gentiles grafted into the church, Moses promises him a share of “whatever good the LORD gives us.”

Praying it home:
Praise God that he leads us by his word and Spirit. Pray for his help in seeking out his will in scripture.

Thinking further:
None today.

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