Numbers 7 – Tabernacle Stuff
I want to spend some time looking at Numbers 7:10-11, but first some context. It would, of course, be beneficial to read all of chapter seven for context, but it would be unwieldy to reproduce it here. We should at very least consider the first verse. Verse one, I believe, is critical to understanding what’s going on in verses ten and eleven.
1 Now it came to pass, when Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle, that he anointed it and consecrated it and all its furnishings, and the altar and all its utensils; so he anointed them and consecrated them.
I’m not going to exposit verse one, but I will say take notice that the theme is the consecration of the entire tabernacle (altar, utensils, and all it contains). Anointing and consecrating something means it now has a singular purpose in the service of YHWH. In our world today we don’t think in those terms. Maybe the closest we come to setting aside items for YHWH’s purposes in the modern-day church is the containers used for communion. As an example, I’ve never seen the little cup serving platter used for anything but communion.
Keeping verse one in our minds lets peer into verses ten and eleven.
10 Now the leaders offered the dedication offering for the altar when it was anointed; so the leaders offered their offering before the altar.
11 For the Lord said to Moses, “They shall offer their offering, one leader each day, for the dedication of the altar.”
Notice in verse ten who offered the dedication offering. That’s right, the leaders. As we continue through the chapter it becomes clear that these are the leaders of each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Here we see the leadership unified. Unity seems to be a big buzz word in churchanity today as if it is a goal of supreme importance.
There are only two ways I know of to accomplish unity between two or more parties. The first is through compromise. If you and I have opposing ideals and yet have decided we must be unified, then one or both of us must give up our conflicting ideals and focus on the things on which we can agree.
Without taking the time to develop the idea let me just say unity through compromise is a bad thing in the body of Christ. Jesus did not instruct His church to be unified. He did, however, instruct His church to be the church – called out and separated unto Him.
The only other way I know to accomplish unity is when two or more parties have their eyes set on the same prize and are singular in their desire to obtain the prize. This is the type of unity we see in the text among the tribal leaders.
Arguably, the best form of leadership is the lead by example model. You want the people to respect the tabernacle? Leadership must respect the tabernacle. You want the people bringing offerings? They are encouraged to do so when they see their leaders bringing an offering.
Something I should probably point out here is the dedication offering in verses ten and eleven are specifically for the altar.
How did the leaders offer their dedication offerings? They did so according to God’s instructions as stated in verse eleven. One leader each day. The initial dedication of the altar was a twelve-day affair!
I don’t know about you but I absolutely love the Old Testament! Don’t get me wrong, I understand that we are not under the law of the Old Testament (if we aren’t Jewish we never were). But if you want to understand what you read in the New Testament you must consider what Yahweh has recorded in the Old Testament. We may never fully appreciate the altar upon which Christ died lest we understand the Old Testament altar. Why? Because the Old Testament tabernacle altar was designed to point forward in time to the one and only New Testament sacrifice, Jesus the Christ.
Here’s a question for us to ponder. Why did the leaders of all twelve tribes bring dedication offerings? Another way to ask it might be, why didn’t the Levites just do one dedication offering and be done with it? I suspect the answer is YHWH intended to enter into covenant with the whole nation. What better way to represent that intention than the leaders of each of the twelve tribes making the dedication offering over twelve days?
Sometimes I still have a hard time conceptualizing YHWH entering into a covenant relationship with an entire nation. A nation composed of about two million people. If you’ve ever wondered why the Jews are called God’s chosen people, it’s because God chose Israel to be His covenant people. Why? Because it was through this nation that YHWH would bring forth Jesus, the one and only sacrifice capable of sating God’s wrath. Jesus, the one and only perfect sacrifice capable of bridging the gap between God and man caused by sin.
Consider what the following New Testament verses say about Jesus.
5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’ ”
All Scripture Quotations From The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.