Numbers 7 details out offerings made to God at the dedication of the Tabernacle by the people of Israel. On Mount Sinai, God revealed to Moses how the Tabernacle was to be built, “Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25:9, 40).
At the start of Numbers 7, we see Moses setting apart the Tabernacle as Holy.
Numbers 7:1 “When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils.”
In scripture, we come across three terms by which the Tabernacle is referred, giving us an understanding of its significance and purpose.
- Sanctuary emphasizes the sacredness or holiness of the place.
- Tabernacle – tent, dwelling,” emphasizes the nearness and closeness of God’s presence dwelling with the Israelites in the midst of their camp.
- Tent of Meeting, emphasizing the function of being a place of “meeting” between God and his people.
Numbers 7:2-8 “Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of families who were the tribal leaders in charge of those who were counted, made offerings. They brought as their gifts before the Lord six covered carts and twelve oxen—an ox from each leader and a cart from every two. These they presented before the tabernacle. The Lord said to Moses, “Accept these from them, that they may be used in the work at the tent of meeting. Give them to the Levites as each man’s work requires.” (emphasis mine)
The Levites had the task of carrying all the contents of the tabernacle across the wilderness and so God instructs for those gifts to be given to them.
In verses 6-9, we see Moses distribute the carts between the Levite clans, two for Gershonites, four for the Merarites and none for the Kohathites. The Lord’s instruction was to give as each man’s work requires. The Merarites carried the frames of the tabernacles and so were given four. The Gershonites carried the tent and furnishings and so were given two. The Kohathites carried the Holy things which was to be carried by hand.
For us: God provides according to our needs to live out our calling. We are not to compare carts so to speak (who has got more or less) but diligently carry on with what God calls us to do.
Numbers 7:10-11 “When the altar was anointed, the leaders brought their offerings for its dedication and presented them before the altar. For the Lord had said to Moses, “Each day one leader is to bring his offering for the dedication of the altar.”
Verses 12-78, details out the offerings made by each tribe. The offerings were identical and yet they are meticulously repeated twelve time including every single detail, the number of animals and weights of the silver and gold dishes.
We can skim over such sections of scripture; I know I have done it. The offerings may not be relevant for us today as we do not need to carry them out in light of what Christ has done for us. But as we consider why a large section of scripture is dedicated to detailing out the offerings, we have to remember that the offerings were made to God and therefore we ask what do they mean to God?
The detailed repetition of the identical sets of gifts underscores the participation of each tribe. And it shows that each one was noted and treasured individually by God.
Hebrews 6:10 says “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”
God remembers every act of love and every minute of work for Him.
Every offering brought enabled the priest to carry out their duties. The offerings were presented by the leaders but the animals, carts, grain etc were not grown, made or looked after by the leaders alone. It would have taken the people within each tribe to make the offering a possibility. The responsibility of participating and making the offering happen did not rest on the leaders alone but on the people.
For us: Each of us form the body of Christ, you might be a leader or you might be more behind the scenes but we all play a part in Kingdom work.
All these details of the offerings can sometimes feel tedious to read for us, what would it feel like doing them? Knowing what it is meant for can change how one feels about anything that can get tedious. Do you think that at times Israelites felt it tedious to carry out all the details required for their various offerings? They were following God’s directive and I think that motivates even on days that it might feel tedious.
For us: Has following God’s directive felt tedious at any point for you? Has God called you to serve in a particular area, there may be times you felt like you are done with it but know that the Lord has called you to stay and serve. Maybe you are to love and show grace to someone who does not make it easy and yet you know that is what God wants.
Feelings do not necessarily reflect truth. God’s word and will is what we are to base our actions on.
Our offerings to God do not take the form of bulls, goats, sheep and grain. So, what has your offering to God been looking like? How are you serving Him and His people? And reflect on if your offering to God has felt more like a duty or a form of worship?
At the very end of this chapter we read“When Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law. In this way the Lord spoke to him.” (Numbers 7:89)
The offerings were a joyous, gratitude filled response by the people to the dwelling of God among them.
Lord, you care for each one of us and what we can give to you is never overlooked but treasured. Help us Lord, to diligently serve you with a grateful heart.