Wednesday, March 21, 2018

carrying a tent peg through the wilderness

The Word for today:
Numbers 18:8-19:22
mark this:
The Merarites are to carry the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts and bases, as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, ropes, all their equipment and everything related to their use. Assign to each man the specific things he is to carry. (Numbers 4:29-32)
The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box, completely covered with gleaming gold. It was not big—about 4’ x 2’. It was not to be touched by human hands, so whenever Israel traveled, four men (two on each side) placed poles, inserted through rings on the ark’s corners, on their shoulders as they marched.
The ark went first, leading the entire national procession by perhaps 1000 meters as Israel followed the pillar of cloud/fire through the wilderness.
So if you were one of the four ark carriers, you were a very big deal in the ‘hood. No doubt the ladies fawned over these ark carriers, who were (literally) 1 in a million.
As explained below, only a man from the Kohathite Division of the Tribe of Levi would be chosen for such a plum position. So what did the rest of the Levites carry through the wilderness? Here, briefly, is the answer:
Aaron and his sons were the only persons allowed to directly touch the items inside the Tabernacle. They prepared the furnishings for transport.
The rest of the Tribe of Levi were divided into three divisions, named after Levi’s three sons:
The Gershonites carried the curtains of the Tabernacle, the tent with its covering, and the screens for the entrances.

The Kohathites
 (among whom were the four assigned to the ark) carried the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, and the various vessels.
The Merarites carried the frames of the tabernacle, its bars, pillars, bases, pegs, and cords.
If you were a Merarite, you were never going to the front of the procession, there to be admired as the reflection from the setting sun or the pillar of fire set the golden ark aglow.
If you were a Merarite, it was your lot in life to carry a tent peg. Which, of course, did not set hearts aflutter. But you soldiered on because you were a Merarite and that tent peg was your mission and ministry.
God’s people are not separated into divisions today, but many of us are, functionally, Merarites carrying a tent peg through the wilderness.
Whatever your function might be in God’s program today, carry it out with passion, verve, style, and aplomb. God never ranks the parts of his body, the church. He doesn’t rank the pastor ahead of the guy who organizes the parking lot brigade; he doesn’t rank the cool guy on lead guitar in front of the ladies who clean up after the banquet.
God has ordained a chain of command, but not a system of rank. He went out of his way in the New Testament to tell us that the body needs every part as much as any part:
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it. (1Corinthians 12:21-24)
In the Old Testament, God wants us to see that the shimmering ark and the seldom-noticed tent peg are both, in important ways, prophetic pictures of the great Christ to come:
From Judah will come the cornerstone,
from him the tent peg,
from him the battle bow,
from him every ruler. (Zechariah 10:4)
I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father.
All the glory of his family will hang on him. (Isaiah 22:22-24; cf. Revelation 3:7)
God might have given you a public pulpit or platform. He might have placed you way out in front of the parade.
On the other hand, He might have made you a “Merarite.” Maybe you’re a Mom whose sole mission is to tell your only child the saving story of Jesus. Or maybe you’re the guy who has to constantly deal with that balky old furnace which your church can’t afford to replace.
Until the twelfth of Forever, we will not know how our role relates to the whole. So until then, let’s be marvelous Merarites on our missions from God. Let’s park those cars, write these blogs, clean those tables, fix that furnace, and tell God’s great Story as if the whole Tent is upheld by the single peg God gave us to carry.

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