Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 3 May 2022:
Numbers 4:15 — And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the sons of Kohath are to carry.
The Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites were three clans of the Levite tribe in Israel. The Levites filled the priestly roles in Israel and bore the responsibility of caring for the tabernacle. The Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites had specific roles within the Levite culture. The Kohathites had charge of caring for the objects associated with the sanctuary: “This is the service of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting: the most holy things” (Numbers 4:4–14). The Ark of the Covenant, the Table of Showbread, and other holy items were the responsibility of the Kohathites (Numbers 10:21; 1 Chronicles 9:32). The Gershonites took care of the decorations in the sanctuary—curtains, ropes, and coverings (Numbers 4:24–26). The Merarites had the task of maintaining and carrying from place to place the pillars, bases, frames, pegs, and cords that created the structure of the tent of meeting. Since the Israelites were often on the move, the tent of meeting often had to be taken up and moved. Each clan had its responsibility to the sanctuary of God.
The sons of Kohath were appointed to carry the most holy things. However, their access was limited, they were only to come after the articles had been covered by the sons of Aaron the priest. If the Kohathites touched the holy things when there were not covered, they would die. In fact, they couldn’t even look at the holy things for a second without dying instantly (Numbers 4:20), and Moses and Aaron were warned to protect the lives of the sons of Kohath by ensuring they didn’t become complacent and treat God’s holiness lightly. (Numbers 4:17)
In Christ, we have been made holy, the veil has been removed, and we now can draw near to the Lord without fear of death. On the contrary, Hebrews 4:16 encourages us: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” and 2 Corinthians 3:18 proclaims, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Where once we were doomed to eternal separation from God and death, Jesus has given us total access to God, eternal life, and the power to be godly, to mature into Christlikeness. As has always been the case, we must never take the holiness of God lightly, and the Bible tells us we should, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) However, where reverence to the Lord once demanded distance from the Lord, now our reverence to the Lord should inspire a passion above all else to remain in His presence, to abide in Him, to remove all sin from our lives, and to completely surrendering of our lives to Him – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
Romans 15:1 — We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
You must be patient with immature Christians who act inappropriately. When someone offends you, you may want to defend yourself and get gratification, but the Bible says do not, but rather to respond to abuse with love and kindness. As we read previously, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…. Do not take revenge… (Romans 12:14-19).”
Of course, wholeheartedly blessing those who persecute you is tremendously hard and goes against everything we are taught by the world. This spirit of grace is developed over time as we mature and grow in our appreciation of God’s grace bestowed upon us and as we continually practice this attitude under the counsel and coaching of the Holy Spirit. God knows how hard this is and commands us to have “endurance” but also to be encouraged by Jesus’ perfect example which ultimately resulted in the Cross – he knows better than anyone what you are going through: “For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’” (Romans 15:3).
- Colossians 3:12-14 — Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
- John 15:12 — This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
- Romans 5:8 — …but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
You must take up your personal cross to follow Jesus, and this starts with denying self and considering others, particularly those who offend you, as more important than yourself, the lost sheep who are at the forefront of the mind of the Shepherd. Try this experiment for a while: stop defending yourself; respond to everyone who lashes out at you with love, kindness and blessings. See what happens. Remember Jesus’ first words on the Cross — “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Instead of focusing on what others are doing to you or not doing for you, consider how their behavior is affecting your personal love, joy, and peace, which should be unshaken because they are grounded on the rock of Jesus. Pray that God will help you carry your daily cross with joy for His glory and for the sake of others – “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
- Romans 12:10-12 — Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 — Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 May 22: Overlook offenses committed against you, remembering that people are weak and need mercy and grace just as you do. Don’t satisfy your own desire to defend yourself or to stand up for your ‘rights’ but rather consider how you can transmit the peace of God, grace, and reconciliation. References from today’s readings: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’” (Romans 15:1-3) Strive in prayer today — committed, hard, tiresome prayer. (Romans 15:30)