On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Numbers 9:15-18
God is different from all our false gods in that He is real, and is capable of leading us. The false gods of our day are thin disguises for our own will and desires. Money, power, and pleasure are true north for the lust that burns within us.
Romans 8:14 tells us, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” He is the one we follow and He is our destination.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.” Numbers 8:23-26
The Levites gave the best years of their lives, when they were strongest, healthiest, and most vital, to the work of the ministry in the Tabernacle. At age fifty, you were retired to guard duty outside the tent.
This is how it is to be. God gets out best. Our best years, our best efforts, our best gifts. He is worthy, and we are honored to do so. Instead, we give the best to our careers, our families, ourselves, and then give our latter years to the church, if we aren’t still perfecting our golf game. Don’t we realize that if we give our best to God, that he will bless our careers, our families, and our own selves?
This was the dedication offering for the altar on the day when it was anointed, from the chiefs of Israel: twelve silver plates, twelve silver basins, twelve golden dishes, each silver plate weighing 130 shekels and each basin 70, all the silver of the vessels 2,400 shekels according to the shekel of the sanctuary, the twelve golden dishes, full of incense, weighing 10 shekels apiece according to the shekel of the sanctuary, all the gold of the dishes being 120 shekels; all the cattle for the burnt offering twelve bulls, twelve rams, twelve male lambs a year old, with their grain offering; and twelve male goats for a sin offering; and all the cattle for the sacrifice of peace offerings twenty-four bulls, the rams sixty, the male goats sixty, the male lambs a year old sixty. This was the dedication offering for the altar after it was anointed.
And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him. Numbers 7:84-89
These sacrifices were just the beginning. There would be centuries of reinforcement of God’s message that sin brings death. When Christ finally came, and was the last sacrifice for all time, it was hard for the Jews to give up the old ways. They eventually would, even those who did not accept Christ, but it was because after they were driven from the land and the temple was destroyed, they were unable to meet all the requirements for the sacrifice. I once heard a Messianic Jewess on the radio, preaching to her people: “Where is the blood of your sacrifice? Where is it? Are you not still in your sins?” It is the question for all mankind. The answer is, Jesus, the son of God, is our sacrifice.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.
“All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.” Numbers 6:1-5
This time of separation is for a period of time, after which the Nazirite shaves his or her head and the hair is burned as a sacrifice to God, along with two lambs, a ram, some loaves and some flour mixed with oil. And after the ceremony he or she may drink wine again.
Such a person was making a vow, to live a life separated to God in a way that other people did not. It is not unlike acall to ministry. This person may not be a Levite, or a descendant of Aaron, but he or she may desire to learn live a life of holiness. This was a public way to mark yourself as devoted to the Lord.
Today we can make changes in our lives as we devote ourselves to the Lord, and it will change our whole direction. About seven years ago I decided that I wanted to live by, “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” I started reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, over and over, reading daily. It changed my life and propelled me into the mission field.
“Speak to the people of Israel, If any man’s wife goes astray and breaks faith with him,
if a man lies with her sexually, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her, since she was not taken in the act, and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself, or if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself, then the man shall bring his wife to the priest and bring the offering required of her, a tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.
” Numbers 5:13-15
What follows is a long prescription of how to reveal the truth of the husband’s suspicion. For a man to put his wife through this it would take a deep sense of betrayal that must be resolved. If this ritual, which would require God’s intervention to reveal the woman’s guilt, shows she is innocent, then the man would have to let it go. God would have vindicated her before her husband and the priest.
If the woman was guilty, and had decided to play this game of chicken with God, she would not only be guilty of adultery, but of being defiant of God. If she had been guilty, and been remorseful, and had confessed to her husband, she would have gotten off with a sin offering. It reminds me that in the public arena, the cover-up is treated more harshly than the crime.