Monday, February 1, 2016

"The God of the details ..."

Day #33

Scripture Reading:  Numbers 1 - 4 …

Life is full of details!  Those of us who live in the hectic world of technology are at times overcome by all of the things that must be attended to in our lives ... all of the details that use up our time and energy and that flood our minds throughout each day.  We have lists of things we need to get done - or at least think we need to get done.  Yet even those who live in the poorest areas of the world must deal with certain details, certain necessities ... perhaps even thinking about where the next meal will come from or whether they can get medical care or water or clothes - things that we take for granted.  Details are part of life in this world, like it or not.  Those who don't tend to details suffer the consequences and often depend on those of us who do!

But is all of the attention to detail good or bad?  As you read through the first few chapters of Numbers you notice immediately that GOD is a God of details.  God is not a "slave" to details, but rather, orders the details of life in order to accomplish His purposes.  Many would do well to understand that being made in the image of God means that we were created to be people who tend to the details.  There is a difference between focusing on the details or taking care of them in order to accomplish a greater purpose.  In distributing the responsibilities for the camp of the Israelites and the care of the tabernacle God is showing the people that their purpose, indeed, their very existence, centers around the presence and worship of their God!

God was preparing His people to enter the land that He had promised to Abraham and his descendants. As they faced the people there, they would need an army, so God told them to take a census of all the men in Israel twenty years old or older (1:3).  The total number came to 603,550.  God had promised Abraham that He would make of him a great nation and He had certainly kept His promise! Remember that these men had been in slavery in Egypt all their lives.  They had been oppressed by their masters and had worked hard.  Now they were to be prepared to fight for their people.

Yet, there was something even more important than having an army to defend them:  the care of the tabernacle and the worship of God.  This is what distinguished the people of Israel from any other people on earth, just as the worship of the one true God distinguishes those who believe in Jesus today. They were (and we are) a chosen people unto the Lord, their God.  The arrangement of the camp was to be according to God's directions.  Why such detailed directions?  Because God is a God of order!!  Paul writes to the Corinthians hundreds of years later that God is a God of order and that everything is to be done in worship in an orderly fashion (I Corinthians 14:33, 40).  God is NOT a God of chaos!  Some seem to think that freedom in Christ means approaching God any way we want, worshiping God any way we want, serving God any way we want ... but God's Word gives us direction and we benefit from following it!!

The tribe of Levi had been chosen to serve at the tabernacle because when the people were worshiping the golden calf at Mt. Sinai, Moses came down from the mountain and called the people to come to him if they wanted to follow the LORD, and the tribe of Levi came first (Exodus 32:6).  This was not some casual service that the Levites were called to perform.  God told Moses to "appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary must be put to death!" (3:10).  Now God said that the Levites were His.  Having spared the firstborn of Israel during the last plague in Egypt, God said that He would take the Levites as "redemption" for the firstborn of Israel (3:40-51).  All of this points to the redemption that Jesus would offer for each one of His chosen ones on the cross.  This is a picture of the truth that God knows each one whom He has chosen and we who believe by His grace are HIS!!

So long as you or I believe that we are free agents, that our lives belong to ourselves, that we can live however we want and do whatever we want, neglecting our service to God or ignoring God altogether, we are foolishly rejecting God's offer of life in Jesus Christ.  As the camp of Israel and all they did was centered around the tabernacle and the worship of God, so the lives of His people today must be and will be the same.  Even the Kohathites, who were put in charge of carrying the various parts of the tabernacle on their journey to the promised land, did not dare to look at the holy things for even a moment or they would die (4:20).  God is HOLY, and He has determined the one way that we can come to Him ... through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ ... and all of this pointed to Him.

As we worship the LORD our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, each day, our minds and hearts should be centered on Him and we should be continually seeking Him.  How few people today consider each breath as a gift from God and each day an opportunity to live in His presence and to serve Him in all things?  It is in doing so that we become "imitators of God," as Paul wrote to the Ephesians:  "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Yes, the God of details calls you and me to be people of details, too, and the priority of our lives must be God Himself.  Don't let the details of life cloud your vision and make you forget who you are and whose you are!  When you believe in Jesus Christ you are HIS and living for Him becomes the center of all you do in this world and all you will do in eternity.  May you live daily to care for the things of God and to worship in His holy temple!!

"O LORD, my God, it is in knowing You and living to worship You daily that my life finds its meaning and purpose.  Apart from You there is only self-centered chaos, but with You there is order and direction for life here that leads to eternal life in the world to come.  Thank You for opening my eyes to see You for who You are and for moving my heart to love You ... because You first loved ME!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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