Torah: Numbers 4:21–7:89
PROPHETS: Judges 13:2–25
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: John 12:20–36
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 & 2
Raised Up to Serve
After counting the Kohathites (K), the fourth count continues by counting those eligible for Tabernacle service from the Levitical “households” of Gershon (G) and Merari (M) (see previous portion, b’Midbar, for the first three counts and the beginning of the fourth).
The instruction we read as “take a census” literally reads, “elevate (lift up) the heads.” Serving God involves being elevated out of an earthly domain and into a heavenly one!
This “elevating” includes:
1) Counting them (G: 4:21–23; M: vv. 29–30; K: 4:1–3)
2) Clarifying their ministry job description (G: vv. 24–26; M: vv. 31–32; K: 4:4, 15)
3) Appointing them an immediate supervisor to lead them (G: vv. 27–28, cf. 7:8b; M: v. 33, cf. 7:8b; K: 4:19)
Just as God ordered His community to travel through the wilderness and beyond into the Promised Land, He has ordered us today as well. Read Ephesians 1:18–23 and consider how God has lifted up Yeshua. We follow in Yeshua’s footsteps. According to Ephesians 2:6, how has God “elevated” you and counted you among His treasured children (cf. Romans 8:15–16)? What kind of job description can you discern from reading Ephesians 2:10 and Romans 12:1–2? According to Ephesians 1:22, who is your ultimate authoritative leader? Where is He leading or what is He specifically calling you to do you that you have been resistant to obeying? How can obeying Him in this area fulfill a priestly ministry of worshiping God and leading others to do the same?
Torah 3 & 4
Keeping the Camp Pure
Israelite Vows and Priestly Blessing
God gives instructions for maintaining physical purity within the community (5:1–4, cf. v. 3 and Leviticus 15:31), maintaining moral purity within community relationships (vv. 5–10; cf. Leviticus 6:1–7) and maintaining marital purity within the “one-flesh” relationship of husband and wife (vv. 11–31; cf. Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6). God also gives instructions for entering into a Nazarite vow (6:1–8), dealing with an interruption of the vow (vv. 9–12), and what to do upon completion of the vow (vv. 13–21). This Nazarite vow served to set someone apart for service unto the LORD and thus helped maintain a pure testimony of God’s holiness to both the one making the vow and to all onlookers. Finally, when the “priestly blessing” is pronounced (vv. 22–26), what happens (v. 27)?
Where do you need God’s blessing today and the power of God’s Spirit bringing purity into your life?
torah 5 & 6
Tabernacle = God Dwelling With Man
Offerings and Sacrifices = Man Relating With God
Both military and ministers have been counted. Israelite tribes and Levitical households are stationed around the Tabernacle. All Levitical Tabernacle ministers have been instructed. Thus, community life where a holy God is living in intimate relationship with an unholy people can now commence! Aaron and sons have been anointed for priestly service (cf. Leviticus 8) and are about to begin their ministry (cf. Leviticus 9). The community now comes together in worship and giving to support this new community-life-in-relationship with God.
First, Moses reviews the set up and preparation of the Tabernacle (Numbers 7:1) as well as Israelite tribes equipping the Levitical households with carts and oxen for carrying (vv. 2–11). Why does the Levitical household of Merari get four carts whereas Gershon only gets two and Kohath doesn’t get any?! (Hint: compare ministry job descriptions.)
Five tribes (vv. 12–41) followed by five more tribes (vv. 42–71) come to present their offerings and sacrifices over the course of the next ten days (v. 11). What do you think the Israelites felt as they awaited their opportunity to have their tribal leader approach God on their behalf at the newly consecrated altar where He had just revealed Himself and His glory in Leviticus 9:22–24?! Do you have that same sense of fearful yet excited expectancy about the LORD revealing Himself again and returning in glory (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11)?
torah 7 &
The final two tribes approach God to give (vv. 72–83) and both Tabernacle accessories (vv. 84–86) and sacrificial animals are totaled (vv. 87–88). Now comes the pinnacle moment when God’s appointed mediator enters into God’s holy Presence dwelling in His earthly Tabernacle and speaks with the Almighty King of creation (v. 89, after Israelite offerings)!
Compare two other pinnacle moments of God revealing His glory in unique ways: 1) just after the Tabernacle is constructed but before fellowship was made possible through sacrifice (Exodus 40:34–35); and, 2) just after the priests begin their ministry (Leviticus 9:23–24).
God went to great lengths to facilitate and cultivate a relationship with His chosen community. His initiative in facilitating and cultivating relationships with people from all nations through Messiah is even more staggering. Can you grasp the enormity of privilege and honor in being able to approach God right now and speak with Him (Hebrews 10:19–23)?
Sampson Elevates the Nation
Manoah and his wife received special revelation and instruction to raise up one who would deliver Israel. Their promised son, Sampson, was to be a Nazarite (cf. Numbers 6) his entire life—set apart for God (Judges 13:5, 7). This Nazarite vow that Sampson embodied continues to instruct us just as it did two thousand years ago (cf. Acts 18:18; 21:17–26ff).
What do these sections of God’s word teach you about God and how He does relationship with fallen man for His glory and our good (cf. Colossians 2:17)?
Yeshua Elevates the Nations
In Yeshua’s day, there was a great Messianic expectation (12:34). Unfortunately, God’s Messiah did not measure up to what people were expecting. Had they seen through eyes of faith, however, they would have realized that their expectations were much too low! In fact, it was not until after Yeshua was indeed “lifted up” and raised to life (just like he had done for Lazarus, vv. 17–18) that even Yeshua’s closest followers began to realize the unveiled reality of who He is! He is indeed the One who, by being lifted up, elevates His followers (“disciples”) to heavenly places (cf. Ephesians 1:3; 2:6; Psalm 113:48), even while we are still on earth awaiting His return!
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.