"To Each Man According to His Service" (2/26)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Numbers 7.

When the tabernacle was finished, the leaders of Israel brought an offering consisting of six carts and twelve oxen (Numbers 7:1-3). The Lord then gave Moses instructions about what to do with them:

‘Accept these things from them, that they may be used in the service of the tent of meeting, and you shall give them to the Levites, to each man according to his service.’ So Moses took the carts and the oxen and gave them to the Levites. Two carts and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service, and four carts and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service… But he did not give any to the sons of Kohath because theirs was the service of the holy objects, which they carried on their shoulders” (Numbers 7:5-9).

Among the Levites there were three groups: the sons of Gershon, the sons of Merari, and the sons of Kohath. It may have seemed logical to divide the offerings between the three groups – two carts and four oxen each – but this was not the Lord’s will.

The Gershonites received a third of the total offering (two carts and four oxen). But the Merarites received the rest (four carts and eight oxen). The Kohathites received none.

This may seem quite unfair. Many today are insistent that the only way to have any sense of justice is for all to receive the same thing. Yet God was not being unfair or unjust toward the Kohathites. After all, we know that “God is not one to show partiality” (Acts 10:34). God already mentioned the fact that He did not want the Kohathites cut off from the rest of their brethren (Numbers 4:18). This was not about which ones personally were more important to the Lord, but it had everything to do with their particular work – “to each man according to his service” (Numbers 7:5) – and the Kohathites’ work did not pertain to these things.

Equality in material things is not an indication of divine justice. In fact, it is often an indication of humanistic injustice.

Tomorrow’s reading: Numbers 8-10

[I’m using the Chronological reading plan on the Bible Gateway website if you’d like to follow along, too.]

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