Changing locations would require the help of every Levite in breaking down the Tent of Meeting and then reassembling it at a new site.
The Lord dedicates Aaron and his descendants from all of the other Levites to minster as priests before Him in the sanctuary and to care for the most holy things. They were given the responsibility of packing up the holy furnishings and articles used for ministering in the sanctuary. No one but Aaron and his descendants were to view the holy things. They were to camp on the east side of the tabernacle in front of the Tent of Meeting.
All of the remaining Levites were organized by clan and assigned tasks to make moving the Tent of Meeting simple and to ensure that God’s holy things were treated with respect.
The Gershonites were to camp on west, behind the tabernacle. They were given the responsibility of carrying the tabernacle and tent, its coverings, and the outer curtains.
The Kohathites were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle. They were given the responsibility for the carrying the contents of the sanctuary: the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, and the inner curtain.
The Merarites were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle. They were given the responsibility of maintaining the infrastructure of the Tent of Meeting and carrying these pieces when they moved locations.
These instructions reveal a number of truths about the ministry.
No one person can do it all. Specific tasks are assigned to all of the Levites by clans.
Confusion occurs when jobs descriptions are unclear. Each man from each clan knew what they were and were not responsible for; they were not responsible for the tasks assigned to the other clans.
Disorganization disruptsforward-movement. Feelings are ruffled, tempers flare when well-meaning people fall all over each other to get the job done.
Ministry has little to do with preference but everything to do with calling. Carrying the sanctuary articles may appear more spiritual, but without the assembly of the Tent, does it really matter? The Kohathites had to do only what they were assigned to do.
The wisdom of God is once again manifest in Israel’s midst!
Israel’s learning to move together as an organized community will prepare them to take the land of Canaan in an organized manner.
"Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary must be put to death." (Numbers 3:10)
Representing God to man and man to God is a serious vocation. Many people desire the ministry. As my husband says, "Desire alone doesn't qualify for ministry." Paul states, "If any man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work (1 Timothy 3:1).” Paul then gives a list of qualifications. So desire must be coupled with certain qualifications.
The Lord tells Moses, "Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary must be put to death." I'm sure there were others in the camp who wanted the job, maybe for the glamour or to be close to the action. God's priestly calling, however, precludes self-appointed men or men interested in being a priest without being a Levite. The writer of Hebrews also affirms this: "And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was (Hebrews 5:4).”
The excitement of ministry draws many who don't realize the demands placed upon the home, family, and life. Such persons, driven more by earthly ambition rather than by heavenly passion, usually do more harm than good in the ministry. Though they may be good people with many commendable skills and giftings, that alone doesn't qualify them. They must be God-called.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
What were Aaron's descendants given responsibility over?
Why are only Aaron's descendants allowed to see the holy things within the Holy and the Most Holy Place?
What are they to do with the holy things as the camp prepares to move?
What will happen to the Kohathites if they violate God's instructions regarding the holy things?
To whom does God make responsible for the holy things?
What does this tell you about God?
Turning truth into prayer:
Pray for your church staff. Pray that the call of God would weigh heavy upon them and that they would depend upon God instead of their own gifts and ingenuity to fulfill His charge through them.