I know what you are thinking: not the most interesting book to study. “How could you do that to your kids? How could subject your children to such torture? Why would you do that to yourself?! I know. It reads like a census, an inventory, and a ledger all rolled up in one! And yet, I discovered that if one is willing to allow God to teach the lesson he has in this chapter, there is an amazing opportunity in the book of Numbers to get to know him as the God of equality.
This chapter covers the offerings given by the tribes of Israel to the Lord in honor of the dedication of the Tabernacle. Now you can just about imagine all that each tribe would have wanted to give to the Lord for his goodness to them. After all, not too long ago, he had just freed them from 400 years of slavery. What would you want to give to a god who could do the impossible for you? A cow? Eight goats? How about ten sheep? Or in today’s terms, a BMW? Diamonds? A million dollars? What would you give to thank him for his goodness?
Well, Numbers 7 depicts a day by day tally of the gifts received from each tribal leader. By the time you get to the third leader on the third day, you begin to notice a pattern: EACH TRIBAL LEADER BRINGS THE SAME THING! Have you ever been to a bridal or a baby shower where the bride has received 10 toasters and the mother -to -be has received about 100 Diaper Genies? Well, Numbers 7 reads the same way. EVERY leader brings a silver plate, a silver bowl, a gold dish, a young bull, a ram, a lamb, etc, etc. By the time the children and I got around to reading the offerings of the eleventh tribal leader, we were singing, “On the 11th day of offerings, my people gave to me: 1 silver plate, 1 silver bowl, 1 gold dish…” to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas!” Like I said, we are homeschoolers. What did you expect was going to happen? Anyway…
In a bridal or baby shower situation, this would be pretty funny, but here it serves another purpose: God not only had a “registry” of what he required for gifts, but also instructions as to how those gifts would be distributed. No one tribe could gift all of the silver plates. No one tribe would gift all of the gold dishes. No one tribe could gift all of the rams. No one would be able to say that his gift to the Lord was better or more valuable than the other. No one tribe would be able to say they were more precious to the Lord because of the value of their gift. Their gifts were of equal value (they all brought the same items), and in this way, whether the tribe was large or small, each could share in blessing the Lord, and furnishing the Tabernacle. Clever, aye? Yes, clever!
As Christians, we sometimes forget, I think, that God, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, does not grant us any special favors commiserate with the value of the gifts we give him. It already belongs to him, after all. We are not doing God any special favors when we honor him with a “gift.” Rather, he is honoring us. He is blessing us. He is letting us know that no matter who we are, or where we come from, whose family we belong to, or what our bank accounts hold, he accepts us as the same, equally (Acts 10: 34-35) his children, and is happy to allow us all to share in the building of his kingdom.
Have you read the book of Numbers recently, or have given a second chance to another part of Scripture that you thought was too difficult or too tedious to understand? What did you learn? Please share your thoughts. I would love to know what you have learned. God bless you always!
©Norine Acevedo and Norine’s Notebook, 2013