One thing I notice as I read these chapters is how God divided up the work between families, as well as individuals. Many, many people worked on many, many assignments so the people would be safe, the tabernacle would be moved and cared for efficiently, and worship would please God.
Did God include these repetitive details in His Word as an example to us in 2023?
I personally don’t believe God wrote anything in Scripture just so we’d have information. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (1 Timothy 3:16)
So yes, I believe these details are carefully included in God’s Word to teach us something that will grow us today.
I think of my own church – and maybe yours. Is the pastor expected to carry the load of ministry by himself? There’s no way Moses could have carried the tabernacle by himself. It took hundreds of people to do that.
I think God would have us see ministry as a joint effort, not just the duty of one man, or a few faithful servants. As the Jews cared for the tabernacle, not everyone had the same responsibility. There was only one Moses. One Aaron. One Shimei. One Elizaphan. Hundreds of people assigned varying duties so the Lord’s work could be done efficiently.
So I ask myself – and you – how much of our churches’ ministry falls on the shoulders of the pastor? Now, as the shepherd I would expect him to tend to the flock, to serve with enthusiasm. It’s not an 8-5 kind of job. And because of that, are there people who do their own parts with enthusiasm, too?
Reading these chapters in Numbers reminds me how all of us, individually, have a vital role in the ministry of our churches. The question is, how are we doing?
Here’s a another point to ponder: God singled out families and gave them duties as well. Families!
Our church secretary and her teenage daughter serve together as greeters on Sunday mornings once a month, as does a young woman and her great-grandparents. Our music minister will occasionally pull his two sons together and use their God-given musical talent to sing a special song during worship.
Parents, I would encourage you to, yes, be an example to your children of what serving God in your local church looks like. But then include them when they are ready.
Years ago we had a pastor with a young son. The son had watched his dad greet people, shake hands with people, introduce himself to visitors every Sunday. Often you would see the shy youngster standing next to his dad, observing.
Then one Sunday before the morning service, I had no sooner sat down when the seven-year-old preacher’s son came over and offered his hand. I shook his hand, he said hello and told me he was glad I was there. Then he moved on to another person, then another person and repeated his sweet greeting.
I watched as he shook hands with dozens of people that morning. After that, you would often see him greeting people Sunday mornings, spreading the joy!
I’m thankful God gave us these details in Numbers, an example of what church ministry should look like. Let’s all ask ourselves what God would have us do to make our churches run smoothly so that the Gospel can go forth with power.
And parents, include your children. After all, they are part of the family!