The Book of Numbers – Reverence in our Worship

In Numbers 3 and 4, we see God turn to the tribe of Levi, laying out their specific roles and responsibilities.

Who were the Levites?

The Levites, were the tribe set apart by God to fulfill duties related to the tabernacle. All priests were Levites but not all Levites were priests.

How did the Levites come to be set apart

To understand how the Levites were chosen for this role, we have to look back to Exodus 32. Moses was on Mt. Sinai, spending forty days and nights there while receiving the commandments from God. The people grew restless in the absence of Moses and urged Aaron to build gods for them. Aaron summoned the people to give their gold and fashioned a golden calf. The people began to worship the calf and offer sacrifices to it. God knowing what the people were doing, burned with anger and was ready to destroy the people. But Moses pleads with God for the people.

When Moses comes down from the mountain and sees the people celebrating and reveling in pagan worship, he is overwhelmed with anger and says, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.”

What does Moses tell them to do?

“Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbour.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.”

This can be challenging for us to digest, when we read this harsh directive given by Moses and carried out by the Levites. But we see the severity in consequences of turning away from God and worshipping other gods/idols. The people were quick to replace God with something else that appeased their desires in that moment.

The first of the two greatest commandments mentioned by Jesus is to Love God with our all. God gave us his all when he sent his son to be a sacrifice to atone for our sins and be restored to him. God deserves our all. The Levites proved their obedience in working towards keeping God in his rightful place among the people and we read on in response to their actions that they were set apart. Exodus 32:29 “Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”

We have seen through the start of Numbers the desire for God to be in the very centre of His people’s lives. Through this story in Exodus, we are again reminded of the importance the Lord attributes towards His place in the Israelites lives and their worship of Him. His holiness and place are not to be treated lightly or traded easily.

Reverence in Worship

Getting back to Numbers 3, we read that Moses and Aaron were from the tribe of Levi. God tells Moses that the entire tribe of Levi were to be assigned to the ordained priests, Aaron, and his sons. And they were to serve the needs of the people and do the work related to the tabernacle.

Numbers 3: 2-4 “The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests. Nadab and Abihu, however, died before the Lord when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai. They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.” (emphasis mine)

The unauthorised fire is not further explained, but we understand that it was not approved by God. Nadab and Abihu, being priests would have thoroughly known how God was to be approached and worshipped. Were they callous, probably.

Approaching a Holy God required a reverence that was translated through carrying out specific instructions for worship. It was not a maybe when you feel like it you can do it the proper way. We again see here that God takes very seriously his holiness and how he is to be approached and worshipped. God knew what was needed to bridge that gap to approach him then, and He made a way for us now through Jesus.

How do we approach the privilege of worshipping a Holy God? Are we callous with His gift of grace? Do we do things sometimes his way and sometimes our way, taking His grace and mercy for granted? Or are we living with a profound sense of awareness of the magnitude of what we received? Our lives are meant to be a form of worship to Him. Through Jesus, we receive grace and a mercy that does not necessitate perfection from us, but God knows our hearts and our motives.

As we grasp the Holiness of God, it should make us reflect on our attitude and conduct as we worship Him. The appropriate response to the holiness of God is a fear and reverence, and the outworking of that fear and reverence is obedience.

Interdependence and a Heart of servitude

In the remainder of chapter 3 and 4, we see God command a census of all the first-born Levites one month and older. We go onto read that each clan within the Levites were given specific instruction of their roles.

Each clan of the Levites had to work together, there was an interdependence to make it all come together as they fulfilled their respective responsibilities so that the people of Israel could worship God and bring their life into line with God’s law and purposes.  So rather than seeing their role as superior because they got to look after the tabernacle, it was a role that was in servitude to the people for God.

As followers of Christ, we do not need specific people to enable us to approach him, we all stand before him with the privilege of reaching out to Him. But as we serve him in whatever capacity, may we never assume that the privilege we have makes us more important or special, but it is to enable those around us to draw closer to God.

Heavenly Father, may we always remember that you are Holy and that is not to be regarded callously because you have made yourself approachable through Jesus. But you are to be revered and worshipped. May we always with humility serve and worship you, remembering that our service is to not make us feel superior or special, but it is to enable the body of Christ to draw closer to you and for those who do not know you, to see a glimpse of a life with you.

God Bless.

33 thoughts on “The Book of Numbers – Reverence in our Worship

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  1. Amen! Many today have forgotten, or don’t understand the holiness of God. Not realizing that we shall all stand before Him one day and give an account of our lives. I’m thankful we live in the age of grace, and not that of the Levitical priest.🙏🏼✝️

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  2. Your post and the stories in these chapters of Numbers are excellent reminders. They are humbling and help us to remember how Holy our God is. He is far above anything our minds can conceive. This helps us to treat Him with reverence and respect. And it also helps us to walk out the greatest command – to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul. May we remember this as we cling tightly to Jesus and walk out each day for His glory. Thank you for this post and this series. I am very much enjoying it and learning a lot. Have a blessed weekend, my friend. 🦋

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He truly is far above anything our minds can conceive. He is an approachable God, a God who calls us his friend, and although we enjoy all of those aspects of him. We are to never forget the reverence and respect his holiness should demand in our worship of him.
      Thank you my friend. Have a lovely weekend too 💐💙

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amen, Manu! This is key, “Approaching a Holy God requires a reverence that was translated through carrying our specific instructions for worship.” We worship God our His terms not ours. May God continue to lead you and speak to you through Numbers!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow. This blogpost goes hand in hand with some thoughts God had been putting on my heart lately. Thanks for sharing this! I so wish we could meet in person, Manu! I suspect I’d learn a lot from you in person too. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Manu, A great discussion on reverence and worshiping God. The sentence resounded with me; “Our lives are meant to be a form of worship to Him.” Hopefully, I am living a life that glorifies God, and worships Him. Blessings! 💖💐🌺

    Liked by 3 people

  6. We are to be humble at all times. When we are working for the Lord as you mentioned, it’s not to prove how special we are but it is to point others toward Christ. And we should always remember that we must be reverent. Thanks Manu!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Insightful post! I like what you said here: “The appropriate response to the holiness of God is a fear and reverence, and the outworking of that fear and reverence is obedience.”

    That’s exactly right. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We also know that God is kind and loving towards us, not willing that any perish but all come to repentance and faith. Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and God desires for all to come to Him. Thank you so much for reading and commenting 😊💐


  8. Wow! I’ve spoken of and read about the Levites before, but it has never caught my attention what they required to do, after the people turned away from God to serve an idol. Thus is the requirement of a set apart lifestyle. The ability to choose God even over their own brethren. God help us to maintain a holy lifestyle and to keep no other gods beside him. Bless you. 🙏🏾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The set apart lifestyle- to choose God over their own brethren. It also points to what Jesus says that you have to hate your father and mother, brother and sister in order to come to Jesus.
      Thank Anneta 😊🙏🏽

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Manu, there is much in this lesson that resonated with me. Holiness – wow, I see a great need for this today. Many are casual or flippant in their approach to Holy God. We are blessed to live under His grace but grace does not sanction irreverence.

    Your expounding on interdependence is insightful and a good reminder of God having a plan and purpose for each one of us. I appreciate this reminder. I pray the LORD blesses you as you diligently serve.

    Liked by 2 people

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