Order and Organization
This is the fourth of the books that Moses wrote, and it deals with Israel's wanderings and wars in the wilderness. This book is called Numbers because the people of Israel were numbered twice in it. Moses took a census of the Israelites (Number 1:3) who were 20 years old and upwards-all who were able to go out to war. They took a census of the families once at the beginning of their journey and again towards the end of their 40 year wandering as well (Chapter 26).
In Chapter 2 you have the order in which the camps of Israel were placed.
God is a god of order, and one of the things we can learn from this is the discipline and orderliness that God taught His people.
Remember they were a bunch of totally undisciplined slaves in Egypt when God led them out. So he began to teach them order, cleanliness, and discipline. Theses are very important lessons for a Christian. Many believers don't have any sense of cleanliness or orderliness in their lives or in their homes. There is no discipline in the way they spend their time or their money.
All such matters affect our spiritual growth. Whatever experience of the Holy Ghost you may have had, if you are undisciplined in your life, you can never be a godly person. We see the importance of that orderliness in the details that we read in the book of Numbers.
If there is a lack of discipline in our lives, we cannot be the men and women God wants us to be.
Many Christians are ignorant of the Word of God, because they do not discipline themselves to study it.
You cannot know God's word if you don't take pains to study it daily, and especially in your younger days.
In Chapter 7, for example, where the details of the offerings of the leaders are given, much detail is given: how much a silver dish weighed and how much a silver bowl weighed. There is a lot of repetition too. But what we can learn from that is that God takes interest in each little thing that every person offered. Ten different people may offer the exactly the same thing. But God recorded what each person gave separately, because each person was precious to God. This shows us something of the heart of God. He is interested in each individual. In the world of today, it is easy to get lost, feeling that you are just one among the millions. Then be encouraged by the fact that God sees each individual as special.
In Numbers 3:40-41, we read that God told Moses to number all the firstborn males from a month old and upwards, the reason being that all these firstborn should have died in Egypt. They escaped because of the Lord's mercy. So they belonged to the Lord. But the Lord said here, “Number the firstborn of the male sex of the children of Israel, from one month and upward, and thou shalt take the sum of them. And thou shalt take the Levites to me for all the firstborn of the children of Israel, I am the Lord: and their cattle for all the firstborn of the cattle of the children of Israel.” So Moses numbered all the firstborn and they were 22,273 in number (verse 43). Then he numbered the Levites and they were only 22,000. For the extra 273 firstborn, a redemption price had to paid. (verses 46-47).
So the Levites replaced the firstborn who should have belonged to the Lord. Now the Levites belonged to the Lord, and the Lord told them, “You shall possess nothing in their land, neither shall you have a portion among them: I am thy portion and inheritance” (Numbers 18:20). They were to be exclusively devoted to the Lord's service.
Chapter 4: here we read of the sons of Levi who were given responsibilities in the tabernacle.
Levi did not choose his own sons to minister in the Tabernacle. It was God Who chose them. We may want our children to serve the Lord in some particular vocation. But God himself must choose them for that and call them individually.
It was God Who said, “The sons of Levi are to have thees responsibilities.” Levi had three sons, Kohath, Gershon, and Merari. Earlier we saw how Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu had offered strange fire and they were killed. They would have had wonderful privileges in connection with the tabernacle to serve God, but they missed it. The sons of Kohath, Gershon, and Merari had the responsibility of moving the tabernacle. The most sacred job in the moving of the Israelites was given to these three families.
What we learn here is that we cannot take God's commandments lightly. When Uzzah (in David's time) touched the ark because he thought it was falling, God killed him-just because he was not a Levite. He had no right to touch the ark. If God has not given us a responsibility in his Church we shouldn't touch it.
Each of these three families was also given a specific task (4:4,24,33). In 7:2, we read that the leaders of Israel made an offering to the Lord. All the leaders and their offerings are mentioned in this list. In verse 3 we read that they brought “six wagons covered, and twelve oxen.” for the work of moving the tabernacles items. When you divide 6 carts between 3 families- the Kohathites, Gershonites and Merarites- each family should get 2 carts. When you divide 12 oxen among 3 families, each family should get 4 oxen. But just see how Moses divides them. We read that Moses gave 2 carts and 4 oxen to the sons of Gershon for their service (verse 7). Then he gave 4 carts and 8 oxen to the sons of Kphathites, because they had to carry the ark on their shoulders (verse 9).
It would have been very easy for those Kohathites to say, “God has given four carts to the Merarites, but he has given us none.” Today, in some countries, we find that God chooses to give cars to some of His children and only bicycles to others. It is easy for those who have bicycles to question God, to complain, and to covet what their brothers have.
But God is all-wise and he never makes a mistake. He does everything perfectly.
Don't bypass these precious verses hidden in the middle of Numbers. There is a message here for us that can deliver us from complaining when we see someone else having four cars and we ourselves having none. How relevant theses Old Testament books are for our problems today.