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December 18, 2018

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year

Text: Hebrews 1-6
Audio: Hebrews 1-6

You can use the audio Bible as a guide to help “set the pace” as you read along.

Numbers 3 (ESV)

These are the generations of Aaron and Moses at the time when the Lord spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai. These are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he ordained to serve as priests. But Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord when they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests in the lifetime of Aaron their father.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him. They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. They shall guard all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle. And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are wholly given to him from among the people of Israel. 10 And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall guard their priesthood. But if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death.”

11 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, 13 for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the Lord.”

14 And the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying, 15 “List the sons of Levi, by fathers’ houses and by clans; every male from a month old and upward you shall list.” 16 So Moses listed them according to the word of the Lord, as he was commanded. 17 And these were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon and Kohath and Merari. 18 And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their clans: Libni and Shimei. 19 And the sons of Kohath by their clans: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 20 And the sons of Merari by their clans: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites, by their fathers’ houses.

21 To Gershon belonged the clan of the Libnites and the clan of the Shimeites; these were the clans of the Gershonites. 22 Their listing according to the number of all the males from a month old and upward was 7,500. 23 The clans of the Gershonites were to camp behind the tabernacle on the west, 24 with Eliasaph, the son of Lael as chief of the fathers’ house of the Gershonites. 25 And the guard duty of the sons of Gershon in the tent of meeting involved the tabernacle, the tent with its covering, the screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting, 26 the hangings of the court, the screen for the door of the court that is around the tabernacle and the altar, and its cords—all the service connected with these.

27 To Kohath belonged the clan of the Amramites and the clan of the Izharites and the clan of the Hebronites and the clan of the Uzzielites; these are the clans of the Kohathites. 28 According to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, there were 8,600, keeping guard over the sanctuary. 29 The clans of the sons of Kohath were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle, 30 with Elizaphan the son of Uzziel as chief of the fathers’ house of the clans of the Kohathites. 31 And their guard duty involved the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary with which the priests minister, and the screen; all the service connected with these. 32 And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest was to be chief over the chiefs of the Levites, and to have oversight of those who kept guard over the sanctuary.

33 To Merari belonged the clan of the Mahlites and the clan of the Mushites: these are the clans of Merari. 34 Their listing according to the number of all the males from a month old and upward was 6,200. 35 And the chief of the fathers’ house of the clans of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail. They were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle. 36 And the appointed guard duty of the sons of Merari involved the frames of the tabernacle, the bars, the pillars, the bases, and all their accessories; all the service connected with these; 37 also the pillars around the court, with their bases and pegs and cords.

38 Those who were to camp before the tabernacle on the east, before the tent of meeting toward the sunrise, were Moses and Aaron and his sons, guarding the sanctuary itself, to protect the people of Israel. And any outsider who came near was to be put to death. 39 All those listed among the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron listed at the commandment of the Lord, by clans, all the males from a month old and upward, were 22,000.

40 And the Lord said to Moses, “List all the firstborn males of the people of Israel, from a month old and upward, taking the number of their names. 41 And you shall take the Levites for me—I am the Lord—instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the people of Israel.” 42 So Moses listed all the firstborn among the people of Israel, as the Lord commanded him. 43 And all the firstborn males, according to the number of names, from a month old and upward as listed were 22,273.

44 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle. The Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord. 46 And as the redemption price for the 273 of the firstborn of the people of Israel, over and above the number of the male Levites, 47 you shall take five shekels per head; you shall take them according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel of twenty gerahs), 48 and give the money to Aaron and his sons as the redemption price for those who are over.”49 So Moses took the redemption money from those who were over and above those redeemed by the Levites. 50 From the firstborn of the people of Israel he took the money, 1,365 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary. 51 And Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, according to the word of the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moses.

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Next: Numbers 4

Back: Numbers 2

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. Today I'm going reply to Bonnie's question/statement from yesterday's reading which includes a lesson from today's reading in Numbers 3.

    Bonnie commented on Numbers 2:

    "Listened to this chapter but have no idea where you got all that info from Scott."

    Thank you, Bonnie for reading and sharing. I want to start by explaining my process so you can understand how I got all that information. 

    First, I want to say that my life is consumed with God and His Word. I don't mean just reading it (which is important) but also studying it, reflecting on it, contemplating it, praying it, and struggling with it so it penetrates every single aspect of my life.

    Because I'm well aware of all my shortcomings, flaws, failures and rebellious tendencies (and the impact of this in both my personal life and pastoral ministry), I cling to God as I would a life preserver thrown to me after going overboard on a sinking ship, in the middle of a storm, with rocks in my pockets, while wearing cement shoes!

    This desperation for God and dependence on Him drives me to His Word and fuels the life-changing blessings only found in Scripture. This allows me to "walk on water" instead of drowning in it. And in those times when I can't walk on it, He keeps me treading water while building my faith to walk. 

    Because the scope of our Daily Bible Reading initiative is not for me to write an exhaustive (complete) commentary on each verse of every chapter of the bible, I look for at least one thing to focus on from my daily reading that will impact my life, increase my knowledge and understanding of God and from that, I share so others can benefit from my study time.

    On a typical morning, I write down verse numbers as I read each chapter to reference after I'm done reading. Sometimes I write down a question next to a verse number. Other times I write a note to myself next to a verse number that might be the starting point for my comments when I'm done reading.

    This process also usually involves some degree of research using Logos Bible Software where I can research Hebrew and Greek words, read study notes in multiple Study Bibles, research commentaries from trusted and reliable theologians and scholars and at times check out sermons from pastors/teachers who have preached on a text that I'm studying. 

    (For a free resource which has a lot of study helps, try Blue Letter Bible https://www.blueletterbible.org).

    That is why I can easily spend a few hours each day in one chapter as I mentioned in church on Sunday. I want to grow in my knowledge of God and His Word and share something meaningful on the website to help others. A lot of times, that requires a lot of time! 🙂

    My study time in God's Word is how I learn more about God. This time also equips me to face all the challenges of life and also stay grounded and rooted so I don't shift into spiritual auto-pilot or get distracted and lazy when good times abound or I'm not going through a hard time.

    My study time also helps equip me to shepherd people spiritually, counsel people biblically and make disciples faithfully.

    Some days nothing jumps out to me to write about. I don’t have any verse numbers written down and nothing "jumped off the page" as I read. Books like Leviticus and Numbers especially are very challenging to write commentary on. Because Christians today are not using Leviticus as a blueprint to create a tabernacle and we're not taking a census of all of God's people in our town or state and setting up camps (as we're reading about in Numbers), the relevance of what we’re reading and the application of it may be difficult to find as it's not always obvious when we're reading. That doesn't mean the relevance and application is not there but we may need to dig and then dig a little more to find it (which often means we have to look at other Scriptures to gain understanding, relevance and application).

    That's what happened yesterday. In Numbers 2, the things I wrote about yesterday were not found in Numbers 2 but went back to the Book of Genesis. That is why I included the references to Genesis 25, 34, 38 and 49. If someone doesn't know the story of Reuben, then he is just another name that appears in Numbers 2 without any root in previous Scripture. It's what we know from Genesis that we can understand his placement in Numbers 2. It's the same with Simeon and Levi and also Judah – their placement may not have any significance to us (and it should because it does to God) unless we know their history which is also revealed in Genesis.

    This was the backdrop to my writing about the consequences of sin but also the provision of grace which was given to Judah after his failures. 

    Grace is always undeserved. God shows mercy and grace to people despite their (our) flaws. That's why grace is so amazing. But sin has consequences and although people who are born again and have surrendered their lives to Christ and are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone will not suffer eternal punishment because of our sin, we often suffer consequences here on earth for it and it impacts our lives negatively in many ways (and in ways we may not be aware). 

    I could have focused my writing on other things (as there is always more than one point to an entire chapter) but I chose this after reading the chapter, praying, contemplating, researching and studying Numbers 2. 

    Numbers 3

    For today's reading, the theme for my writing comes right out Numbers 3:5-10 which says, "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 6 “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him. 7 They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. 8 They shall guard all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle. 9 And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are wholly given to him from among the people of Israel. 10 And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall guard their priesthood. But if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death."

    While Christians today are not gathered together to guard the furnishings of the tent of meeting, we are set apart (like the Levites) for God's purposes. We are to gather together (as the body of Christ, the church) and function in kingdom-centered living and service to God by loving and serving one another and those around us who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior. We're also to help each other grow in our faith and part of that is to help one another overcome sin. This can be seen as a type of "guarding" and "protection" for one another and certainly is part of my ministry to the church. It's also a reflection of the Good Shepherd guarding and protect His flock. 

    There are many other things I could write about in reference to being set apart for God's purposes using the Levities as the example. I could use other Scripture references and more information about the Levites but because I have to get some web work done, I will stop here. 

    What I hope for you (and everyone) is to faithfully read God's Word every day. He will honor your time in it. You don't have to understand every verse you read or spend hours researching. 

    Just as you don't have to understand how air and food is processed in our bodies in order to get the needed oxygen and nutrition it provides, you don't have to understand everything you read for it to have value. But the more you do understand, the better equipped you will be to make good decisions regarding the air you breathe and the food you eat. 

    That is why I continue to stress the importance of being in God's Word (reading and/or listening). If you don't know what happened at the beginning, the middle and the end doesn't make as much sense as there is not background and context to what you're reading. Then confusion can set in and frustration may follow which can easily result in giving up and not reading the Bible at all. I think that fits most people who may have dusty Bibles in their homes but it's not hidden in their hearts. 

    I hope as you read my comments and listen to my sermons, you will learn more about God than if you didn't read or listen. If you use the study notes in the ESV Study Bible, that will help as will Blue Letter Bible and other resources you may acquire on your quest to knowing God through His Word.

    For God's Glory,

    ~Pastor Scott

  2. Wow, Scott. Thank you so much for sharing how you study. That was incredibly helpful to me. No wonder you’ve recommended over the years that I use Logos as well! 

    I have a question about this chapter but I realize I’m behind a few chapters and I don’t want to interrupt the flow! It’s about the Levites, the first born, and this redemption the Lord is talking about. I’ll see what other commentators have said and share links here later. 

    1. You're welcome, Michelle! Glad it was helpful.

      In writing about the Levities and the firstborn, Iain Duguid writes in his commentary on Leviticus:

      "What gives God the right to assign the Levites to these menial jobs around the tabernacle? The answer is that the Levites belonged to God in a unique way. They belonged to God as the substitutes for the firstborn sons of Israel (v. 12). All Israel belongs to God, of course, but the firstborn sons of that first generation belonged to God in a special way. Why? Because when God sent the destroying angel to go through Egypt and kill all of the firstborn sons in the land, he passed over the firstborn sons of Israel. The firstborn of Egypt were struck down, while God spared the firstborn of Israel from death. As a result, the firstborn in Israel belonged to God. And God chose the Levites to take the place of the firstborn sons of Israel and be especially dedicated to his service.

      "Having chosen the Levites, they too needed to be numbered and arranged, just like all the rest of the tribes. They weren’t counted along with the rest of the Israelites as a preparation for war, but they still needed to be counted. They totaled 22,000 men and boys, nearly the same number as the total number of the firstborn of Israel, which was 22,273. Close is not enough in God’s service, however. Every single one of those firstborn sons who had been spared had to be personally and particularly redeemed. The Levites did not just generally substitute for all of the firstborn as a crowd. They particularly substituted for them one by one. Each firstborn who was to be redeemed needed to have a corresponding Levite to take his place. Those firstborn who were left over at the end needed to have their redemption paid for one by one at the rate of five shekels per head."

      Duguid, I. M., & Hughes, R. K. (2006). Numbers: God’s presence in the wilderness (p. 52). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

      Gordon Wenham's commentaries on these early books of the Old Testament (including Numbers) are also extremely valuable and provide great insight. He writes, 

      "The number of first-born Israelites exceeds the number of Levites by 273. Therefore these excess Israelites must be redeemed by the payment of five shekels per person; this is the tariff laid down in Leviticus 27:6 for boys between a month and five years of age. This chapter lays down how much must be paid to the sanctuary when someone is dedicated to God. Through dedication a person becomes God’s slave, as it were, but since only Levites may actually serve as divine slaves other Israelites must be redeemed. They do this by paying a sum equivalent to what they would fetch if sold as slaves on the open market. In the second millennium an ordinary labourer could expect to earn less than a shekel per month. The passage does not make it clear who paid the five shekels. Was the whole sum (1,365 shekels) collected from all the (22,273) first-born, or was it just the 273 who had to pay 5 shekels each for their redemption? It is more natural to take verse 49 in the latter sense, but certainty is impossible.

      "In the principle that the servant Levites redeem the first-born Israelites, Christians may see an anticipation of Jesus the great suffering servant who redeemed his people. This chapter’s insistence that the Levites must prevent other Israelites from sinning by warning and, if necessary, killing encroachers anticipates New Testament challenges, particularly to elders, to correct erring brethren."

      Wenham, G. J. (1981). Numbers: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 81). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

      Hope this helps, my love!

      1. It did, thank you, Scott! 

        I found Jewish websites on this redemption of the firstborn, but of course there was no correlation given to the “life for a life” exchange we see on the cross. 

  3. Reading Numbers 3 again today, I dug in to study the redemption of the firstborn sons. A lot came up that I’m thinking about, but especially what the giving of your firstborn son to God would mean to a family, to a father. The idea of sacrifice. Remember in 1 Samuel 1 when Hannah promises God she will give her son to the Lord? And she did! 

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