Sunday was my turn to work in the 4 year old class this month. When I work in there, part of the time we go upstairs for a short Bible teaching lesson. Mrs. K. and I have the 4-year olds line up at the door, we select someone to be the line leader and we remind the children to be very quiet going up to the room. I am sure you remember when you were little and had to “line up” like this too.
Lining up is a basic structure of organization around the world, and also throughout history. As we begin the book of Numbers today, we get to see God kind of asking the people to “line up”. He instructs Moses to “take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head.” (Num. 1:2) He then wants to count how many “able-bodied” men there are who could go to war as necessary. God appoints a leader from each tribe to help. I am sure this required some lining up. One group, though, that is not included, is the Levites. They are not to be lined up, counted or considered. We are told they are set aside to specifically and at all times watch over the tabernacle. They are also, as noted in today’s verse, to camp around it and keep guard. Their sole job was to make sure the tabernacle was handled correctly and that no one broke the laws that God had set forth so that no “wrath” would come on the people. It was a means of protecting all of them. Having Levites hold a position like this benefitted all Israelites.
God knew his people are prone to make mistakes. They were prone to disobey. He was placing people in positions to help “keep them in line” so to speak. Protective leadership structures like this are good things. We still do this today. Our church has a structure to help us be obedient followers of Christ. OBC has pastors, a shepherding team, and Sunday School teachers-all working together, but in a hierarchy that will help teach us to obey God’s Word and could hold us accountable. Of course, this even trickles down to the godly family structure of parents and children, with a parent there to guide children to obey God. We all need this. We need “levites” or others around us and in leadership positions above us to help “keep us in line.” We need others who are close to us to help remind us to obey God when we might be tempted not to or perhaps forget. The question is, do we have such people around us. You do have Pastor Curtis, dad and I, but as you are getting older and as more time is spent away from the home, having others to help hold you accountable to your life in Christ will be vital. Who are those people in your life right now? When you get married, your spouse will be one of the key people to do this, but you are not there yet. Let this passage in Numbers about the Israelites be a reminder that they were not the only ones who needed “guards” around the “tabernacle”. You and I do too. So, who are your guards today that will help remind you to honor, obey and not walk away from God, incurring the “wrath” of such a choice?