Daily Thoughts from Numbers: God’s Sustaining Presence

On the day when Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle and had anointed and consecrated it with all its furnishings and had anointed and consecrated the altar with all its utensils, the chiefs of Israel, heads of their fathers’ houses, who were the chiefs of the tribes, who were over those who were listed, approached and brought their offerings before the LORD, six wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for every two of the chiefs, and for each one an ox. They brought them before the tabernacle. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Accept these from them, that they may be used in the service of the tent of meeting, and give them to the Levites, to each man according to his service.” So Moses took the wagons and the oxen and gave them to the Levites. Two wagons and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service. And four wagons and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because they were charged with the service of the holy things that had to be carried on the shoulder. And the chiefs offered offerings for the dedication of the altar on the day it was anointed; and the chiefs offered their offering before the altar. And the LORD said to Moses, “They shall offer their offerings, one chief each day, for the dedication of the altar.”…

  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 7:1-89 ESV)

To dedicate the tabernacle the tribes of Israel brought carts and bulls for use by two sons of Aaron, Gershon and Merari, because they needed transportation for the components of the tent.  Aaron’s son Kohath could not use a cart because the holy furniture had to be carried on foot by poles resting on their shoulders.

The tribes also brought dishes of gold and silver to be used in the tabernacle and animals to offer in sacrifice to God to dedicate and anoint the altar of sacrifice at the tabernacle.  When Moses received all these things and went into the tent and the most holy place within the tent, Yahweh spoke to him from above the ark of the covenant between the cherubim.  This simulated what occurs in heaven, the tabernacle being a replica of the heavenly temple, and signified that Yahweh was pleased to “dwell” among Israel.

The offerings brought by the chiefs of the tribes were very practical and useful for the ministry of the Tabernacle.  But Moses did not immediately receive them, doing so only after Yahweh had instructed him to do so.  People will make offerings at times with pure motives and at times with impure.  The latter must be watched for.  Enrichment is often a play for influence.  God will have none of that.

We, the Body of Christ, are collectively God’s temple, and individually we are temples of the living God.  When our “temple” is pure and we come in the merit of Jesus’ sacrifice to God’s throne in heaven, like Moses He hears us and is pleased and He makes Himself known to us.  He dwells with us in the person of the Holy Spirit and makes His presence known to us and through us.  Perhaps some of us hear His actual voice, others sense His words in our hearts, still others may receive what He wants us to know in mental pictures.  As we move toward our own Canaans, toward the purposes for which God has redeemed us, we need to know His presence with us.  Nothing less will sustain us.

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