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Friday, February 26, 2016

Mass Communication

God is the great Organizer. Creation reveals His organizational skills as He formed the heavens and the earth and then filled them with life. Throughout the process He created systems (solar system, ecological system, reproduction systems, biological systems) which He has sustained for thousands of years. 

The Lord gave Israel a number of systems during their first year while they camped at Mount Sinai: the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood system, sanitation system, dietary system, judicial system, social system, moral system, and Israel’s entire cultural ethos. New systems for a new people.  
Moving 2.5 million people through the desert requires another system. The Lord gives a system for that as well.
The Lord begins with a census, “Take a census of the whole community by their clans and their families, listing every man by name, one by one” (Numbers 1:2). He instructs Moses to designate one man from each tribe to assist him in numbering the whole community by their clans and families. The Lord has Moses create a banner for each tribe and positions each tribe in at a specific place  around the perimeter of Tent of Meeting. 
In Numbers 10 the Lord introduces an announcement system of trumpets. When two trumpets sound, the whole community is to assemble before Moses at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. At the sound of one trumpet the community prepares to move and at the sound of the second trumpet the tribes camping on the east are to set out. His subsequent instructions give other signals designed to communicate different instructions to the entire community. He organizes His people as an army ready to march forward from Egypt to the Promised Land, using His systems for discipline and direction.
Every system God gives shows His people His direction, reveals His care, and protects them from the chaos of the nation around them. His simple system of summoning and grouping His people works effectively for forty years as the community moves nearly fifty times in the wilderness. 

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"Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. You and Aaron are to number by their divisions all the men in Israel twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army . . ." "You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites. Instead appoint the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle of the testimony. . .." (Numbers 1:3,49,50)

Soldiers or Priests. Which of the two is more exciting, boring, safe, dangerous, noble, etc.?
God calls both, and both are needed. Each job has both benefits and drawbacks:
  • Soldiers risk their lives on the frontlines, while priests stay back and intercede on their behalf.
  • Soldiers share war stories about exploits, both wins and defeats, while priests stand in the gap in the background. (Joshua led the army and fought the Amalekites, while Aaron and Moses remained in the background interceding on their behalf (Exodus 17:9ff).
  • Both soldiers and priests know God's power and presence, but they experience that power in different ways.
In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul makes clear that the differing gifts divided in the body are given by the Holy Spirit as He wills. In the same way that the Lord called some as soldiers and some as priests, so He now selects some for public ministry and some for private ministry. To some He gives speaking gifts, and to others He gives serving gifts (1 Peter 4:11). Every gift and every calling brings with it both opportunities and limitations. When we are called to one thing, we cannot do another. Envying the job given to another communicates a lack of trust in God and a lack of contentment in His gifting. 
Great joy comes when God's people discover their gifting and walk in their calling. In the Olympics, runners run in assigned lanes. Crossing lanes brings disaster and disqualification. In the same way, pushing to be what one is not, envying gifts one does not have, or seeking positions for which one is not equipped is “lane-crossing” that brings disaster and may even bring disqualification.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Numbers 1:1-2:34
  • What does this assignment do for each tribal leader?
  • What do these instructions tell you about God and His relationship with His people? What does it tell you about their relationship with one another?
  • Why are the Levites excluded from the census?
  • Why were the Levites to remain encamped closest to the tabernacle?
  • How were each of the tribes or clans indentified as they camped around the tent of meeting?
  • What was the significance to the tent of meeting's position in regards to the twelve tribes?
Turning truth into prayer:
Thank the Lord for the gifts He has given you and for the calling upon your life.