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Numbers 7:1-9

A Freewill Offering

1 And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them; 2 That the princes of Israel, heads of the house of their fathers, who were the princes of the tribes, and were over them that were numbered, offered: 3 And they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle. 4 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 5 Take it of them, that they may be to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; and thou shalt give them unto the Levites, to every man according to his service. 6 And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the Levites. 7 Two wagons and four oxen he gave unto the sons of Gershon, according to their service: 8 And four wagons and eight oxen he gave unto the sons of Merari, according unto their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 9 But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders.

The Israelites were now free from their Egyptian slave owners for one full year, and the tabernacle was erected on the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month. (Exodus 40:17) Each item in the tabernacle was subsequently anointed with oil and sanctified. It was a holy place. (See Leviticus 8:10-11) But this may have taken some time. There are various speculations as to when the actual dedication may have taken place. Some claim that it was on the eighth day of the month, which would have been after the seven days of Aaron and his sons' consecration. (See Exodus 29:35) Others say that it would have had to take place during the second month.

The leaders of each of the twelve tribes, who were over all the men in their tribe who had been numbered as eligible to fight in the war, came forward with their gifts for the dedication of the tabernacle. One covered wagon was given as a gift for each pair of leaders, and each leader also gave one ox. It is important for those who are in the role of leadership to be first in worship and giving. Godly leaders must first be godly men who set the example for others to follow. No one can effectively lead from behind.

God told Moses to accept the offering and to distribute the items among the Levites according to the amount of service that they performed. Moses gave two of the wagons and four oxen to pull them to the Levite family of Gershon. These men were assigned to carry the curtains and the hangings, which were the lightest loads. Whatever would not fit into the wagons needed to be carried by the men.

Moses gave the Merarites, who had the heavier loads to carry, four wagons and eight oxen. They had to carry the boards, pillars and sockets. The silver sockets alone weighed 100 talents, which was roughly equivalent to between 7000 or 8000 pounds. The exact weight has never been determined. Anything that they could not fit into the wagons had to be carried on their shoulders.

Kohathites were not given any covered wagons or oxen, because they were assigned to carry the holist things of the sancuary. Those things were not allowed to be carried on wagons but on the shoulders of those who were assigned to them. When they were carried on a wagon or cart, there was always the chance that they might be dumped over and damaged or touched inappropriately.

The story of Uzza who broke God's law and carried the ark in a cart is a good illustration of the seriousness of trying to do things our own way instead of God's way. "And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God." (1 Chronicles 13:7-10)

Thus, we see that leaders must lead by example and that the servants of God must take the work of God seriously. God gave the wagons to the Levites, because He does not want His people to be overburdened. There are, however, certain things that must remain holy and sacred regardless of the burdens imposed on us. In the New Testament church, we do not carry the tabernacle and the ark of the Lord from place to place. We are His tabernacle. But, we do carry His name and we should never allow it to be cast into the dirt accidentally or otherwise. In observing that responsibility, we must lead by example.

Before The Throne:

Pray that men everywhere would begin to recognize the power, the grace and the holiness of the one true God. As you carry His name and His word with you, pray that you might make disciples for Christ and be an example for them to follow. Pray about your own habits for giving to the Lord. Do you give, because it's a law or because you love to give? Only the later will please Him. He loves a cheerful giver.

For Further Study:

** had fully. Ex 40:17-19; ** anointed it. Exod 30:23-30; Lev 8:10-11; Lev 9:1-24; ** sanctified them. Gen 2:3; Exod 13:2; 1Kgs 8:64; Matt 23:19;

(v.2) ** the princes. Num 1:4-16; Num 2:1-34; Num 10:1-36; ** offered. Exod 35:27; 1Chr 29:6-8; 2Chr 35:8; Ezra 2:68-69; Neh 7:70-72;

(v.5) ** Take it. Exod 25:1-11; Exod 35:4-10; Ps 16:2-3; Isa 42:1-7; Isa 49:1-8; Eph 4:11-13; Tit 3:8;

(v.7) ** Two wagons. Num 3:25-26; Num 4:24-28;

(v.8 ) ** four wagons. Num 3:36-37; Num 4:28-33;

(v.9) ** because. Num 3:31; Num 4:4-16; 2Sam 6:6, 13; 1Chr 15:3, 13; 1Chr 23:26;


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