Numbers 3-6: Just one thing

Alrighty, so you’ve made it through Leviticus.  Well done!  To be honest one of my biggest concerns in working through the Bible together is getting through several challenging section.  Job was one, this section through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is another.  The upside of these books is that they are full of a lot of details that we just don’t need.  Please understand, they are part of the scriptures and aren’t to be ignored, but they are recorded as part of the historical, official record.  So when chapter 3 talks about the Levitical census, or how the Kohathites were to disassemble and carry the various tabernacle articles, it is perfectly alright to employ some skim reading techniques.  But don’t skip entire chapters or sections.  Quite often there is a little nugget of spiritual value buried in those sections and they can be easy to miss if you aren’t paying some attention.

One way to avoid the droning effect that can happen in these scriptural scripts is to stay on track with the schedule.  Sitting down to read 2-3 chapters is very manageable, but when you get 2, 3 or 4 days behind, the task can be daunting.

The other way to approach these scriptures is to ask God: “What are you trying to say in all of these details?”

For instance, you could read through chapter 4 about the Kohathites, the Gershonites and the Merarites and spend your time and internal dialogue wondering why these instructions are important, or how boring it is to read about sliding the carrying poles through the alter or how many coverings were to go on the Ark.  OR, you could ask God to show you what these verses say about what it means to serve when your task is menial and repetitive.  You could ponder how their treatment of the holy objects reflected their respect and reverence for God.  You could think about God’s desire for righteous people who seek after him in their hearts (reading about the Nazarite vow in chapter 6 lends itself to this kind of pondering).

When I ministered in Eau Claire, I would often remind the people that when it comes to spiritual things, you get out of them what you put into them.  If you attend church on a Sunday and assume that it will be boring, or empty or disappointing, more often than not your expectations will be fulfilled.  But if you attend expecting good things, looking to converse with your brothers and sisters in Christ, wanting to worship and meet with God, then your experience will be much more positive.  Now, obviously, God can break into even the most reserved and pessimistic hearts in order to blow our expectations out of the water, but there is something to be said about how our attitude affects our interaction with God.  I developed the habit of approaching a seminar, speaker or reading with one prayer on my heart: “God, just give me one thing, one nugget of truth, one glimmer of fresh insight to take away from this.”  I have found that God honours that prayer.

The same is true of Bible reading.  It often depends on how you approach it.  After church on Sunday, Helen, a lady from our church, made the comment that she had been finding it difficult to read through Leviticus, but God reminded her that this is his Word, which we are to respect and revere.  We should never approach it with pessimism or out of duty.  It is our honour and our privilege to read what God has to say and about how God has worked through Israel.

One more comment about Numbers: it’s more narrative than you think.  After you get through the first 8 chapters, the Israel’s story becomes the focus again.  It becomes about God’s leading, the people’s rebellion and the way that God shows Israel his power.  There’s some very good stuff in Numbers actually.

Happy reading.

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  •  What was new from this piece of scripture?  What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  •  How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  •  What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Numbers 7

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