Back in Exodus when the Tabernacle design was laid out, I noted that the Tabernacle was unlike anything Israel had ever seen. It was made with the finest materials and most exact workmanship, yet was to be portable and follow Israel wherever they went.
It is impossible to overstate the significance of what this design represents. Ancient shrines were as local and limited as their gods. Gods could expand their territory, but were always finite. But this Yahweh had adopted a people, not a place, with which to dwell.
I bring all this back to mind because our reading today begins with instructions to the clan of Kohath – a Levite family that was specially assigned to transport the Tabernacle. It’s been over a month since the Tabernacle was erected and the LORD’s glory descended upon it, and almost a year since Israel settled in the Wilderness of Sinai. Directions for how to move everything foreshadow what might happen soon.
Following this in chapter 5 is a variety of instructions. The first have to do with implementing the Leviticus commands to put unclean people out of the camp. Next is a rehash of the laws of restitution, repeating the injunction to both confess the crime committed and to add 1/5th to it.
The final section today has to do with the sin of adultery – how to deal both the committing of adultery and with an accusation of adultery. Listen for a few things. First, listen, as I’ve often stated, for repeated words and ideas: jealousy; authority; bitterness.
Second, notice the role the priest plays, and the way in which the truth is brought to light: not through investigation, but through revelation. As we’ve already seen, false accusation and false witness are just as important to God as the rest of His law.
Our verse for this week is Ephesians 5:2: “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Numbers chapters 4 and 5. Now let’s read it!
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.