Numbers 3:14-39 – God’s Game Plan for Your Church – Everybody Has A Position To Play

Posted: July 4, 2016 in 04-Numbers
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Numbers 3:14-39

Registration of the Levites

As anyone who has read many of my blogs over the years, you would know that I am a big football fan. Even though my college team of choice is the Tigers of Clemson University, I just love the game. It is an amazing sport and requires great strategy. It requires a group of men working together to achieve a goal. All the various functions of a team, offense, defense, and special teams, working together to achieve victory on the playing field. Defeat is usually caused by one of the three phrases of the game not being played to perfection. For example, this past January when Clemson played Alabama for the National Championship of college football, Clemson and Alabama pretty much played each other to a draw when it came to Clemson’s offense vs. Alabama’s defense and Clemson’s defense vs. Alabama’s offense. In those aspects of the game, it was like a heavyweight fight. The teams traded blows all night long. When one team’s offense would punch the other’s defense and you thought they had gained an advantage, the other offense would come on the field and even things out again. It was a great game even though we lost by 5 points. However, it was not necessarily offensively or defensively where Clemson lost the game. It was special teams. Clemson’s special teams have been a sore spot for the program for the past two seasons even though the past two seasons have been highly successful. The sportswriters kept saying that Clemson needed to pay more attention to their special teams because one day it was going to be the difference between victory and defeat. That was exactly what happened in the national championship game. Alabama returned one kickoff for a touchdown and also recovered an on-side kick. In both instances, it appeared that the Tigers just didn’t pay attention to the details on those plays and if you could point to one thing that cost the Tigers the national championship last season, it was special teams.


It just goes to prove that on a sports team such as a football team that everyone has their assigned responsibilities and each person must carry out their function according the game plan for the team to be successful. If one person on the team is having a standout game but the rest of the team is slacking off, it does not matter that the superstar had a great game. The whole team must carry out their individual assignments for the TEAM to be successful. The coaches come up with an overall game plan for victory. Then, the offensive coordinator must take that game plan and develop a plan for the offense that will work within the overall game plan. Same is true for the defensive coordinator. Then the position coaches must brake that offensive or defensive or special teams game place down to the individual position’s game plan. Each man on the team must understand what his position must do to execute the team’s game plan for the game. If one or more of those players and various positions do not execute according to plan, defeat will come. Everyone on the team has assigned duties and must know what those duties are. Without that understanding and without turning understanding into execution, defeat will come.


It is that idea of teamwork and establishing the responsibilities for each group that made the Levites so efficient in making something as intricate and awesome as this mobile tabernacle work for this currently nomadic people of Israel that struck me when I read what seems like a mundane passage in Numbers 3:14-39. Let’s read it now:


14 The Lord said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai, 15 “Count the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.” 16 So Moses counted them, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.


17 These were the names of the sons of Levi:


Gershon, Kohath and Merari.


18 These were the names of the Gershonite clans:


Libni and Shimei.


19 The Kohathite clans:


Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.


20 The Merarite clans:


Mahli and Mushi.


These were the Levite clans, according to their families.


21 To Gershon belonged the clans of the Libnites and Shimeites; these were the Gershonite clans. 22 The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 7,500. 23 The Gershonite clans were to camp on the west, behind the tabernacle. 24 The leader of the families of the Gershonites was Eliasaph son of Lael. 25 At the tent of meeting the Gershonites were responsible for the care of the tabernacle and tent, its coverings, the curtain at the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26 the curtains of the courtyard, the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, and the ropes—and everything related to their use.


27 To Kohath belonged the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites and Uzzielites; these were the Kohathite clans. 28 The number of all the males a month old or more was 8,600.[a] The Kohathites were responsible for the care of the sanctuary. 29 The Kohathite clans were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle. 30 The leader of the families of the Kohathite clans was Elizaphan son of Uzziel. 31 They were responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain, and everything related to their use. 32 The chief leader of the Levites was Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest. He was appointed over those who were responsible for the care of the sanctuary.


33 To Merari belonged the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites; these were the Merarite clans. 34 The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 6,200. 35 The leader of the families of the Merarite clans was Zuriel son of Abihail; they were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle. 36 The Merarites were appointed to take care of the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts, bases, all its equipment, and everything related to their use, 37 as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs and ropes.


38 Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east of the tabernacle, toward the sunrise, in front of the tent of meeting. They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death.


39 The total number of Levites counted at the Lord’s command by Moses and Aaron according to their clans, including every male a month old or more, was 22,000.


As you can see here, each of the Levite clans were given specific responsibilities for maintaining the tabernacle. Each clan was responsible for a different aspect of the set up and breakdown of the tabernacle when they were on the move and each clan had varying responsibilities for the tabernacle when the nation of Israel was camped and stationary. This is the beauty of God in action. In order for the tabernacle to operate efficiently, each clan had a responsibility. They had a function in God’s game plan. Without God devising the orderly nature of the tabernacle, it would have been chaos and it would have been highly inefficient and maybe even dangerous to the Levites. There had to be an orderly and efficient way of doing things.


The same is true in the church today. Like in football, everybody wants to be the star quarterback, but in order for there to be a star quarterback, there must be offensive linemen to block for him. He must have receivers that will get open to catch his passes. There must be running back that chew up yardage on the ground to take the sole focus of the defense off the quarterback. All of it must work together to make the quarterback a star. In church, we call cannot be the star quarterback or senior pastor. He is the one you see on stage every week. The senior pastor is “the face of the franchise” when you think of the leader of your church. But there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes to make the senior pastor an effective leader and it’s not just on Sundays either.


On Sundays, to make it where people can come here the sermon, there are so many things that have to happen that make people feel welcomed at your church and be willing to come back week after week. The parking team must efficiently and easily park your car so that it does not seem chaotic and random. At a really busy church the parking team is necessary to prevent accidents and to prevent inefficient use of the parking lot. The greeters must make you feel that your presence at church is welcomed and that you are loved simply by choosing to come to church here at this church. The runners who help you learn where to take your kids are necessary to keep you from feeling lost. The children’s check-in personnel must make you feel as though you are leaving your kids with trustworthy and loving people. The children’s service must be such that it engages your children to understand biblical concepts. As you leave your children, you should be able to go to church without wondering about the safety of your children because you know that there is a trained security team in place to keep the campus secure from threats. You should enjoy your worship experience because of a tech team that understands and uses today’s advanced technologies to present worship in a way that connects with media savvy generations. You don’t want to have to say “oh well they are trying hard”. You want to say, “man, these guys are as good as the local television station’s production of the nightly news.” Then, you want to hear a worship team/band that makes you feel the presence of the Lord and prepares your heart for the sermon. It is only then that when the senior pastor takes the stage that his word from God will penetrate your heart and cause life change. If any of these components leading up to the sermon fail, then, the sermon will fail to penetrate your heart. All of the moving parts of the worship service must work together such that you are ready to hear the sermon when it comes. If there is a fail anywhere from the parking lot to the sermon, the sermon will not have the effect God wants it to have on your heart. Each of these teams that lead up to the sermon must do their job and do it with excellence in order for your mind to be clear enough to let God’s Word penetrate your heart.


During the rest of the week, there are so many activities that go on at church to make Sunday morning possible. All the planning that goes into your Sunday morning experiences begins anew on Monday, but also there are ministries of the church that carry on day after day that impact people’s lives. Church is more than Sunday morning worship. It is meeting the needs of people in our communities every day. It is members of the church volunteering in ministries that make Jesus’ name famous to those who need to hear it. It is members of churches giving of their time, talents, and resources to ensure the day to day operations of a church that cares about its community. These times, talents, and resources are deployed to spread the message of Jesus Christ daily. Everyone has a role. Everyone is a minister through exercise their God-given talents to create opportunities for the gospel to be heard far and wide.


With all that a church is or with all a church is supposed be, it does not matter how good a preacher the senior pastor is. We are the church. The church is a team. Yes, the senior pastor is our star quarterback, but he would not be an effective spreader of the gospel if there is not a team of functional leaders beneath him leading individual teams that make up the church. These functional leaders then must have great players underneath them to carry out the game plan. Everybody has a role to play in God’s church. He has given us each one a role to play in the body. Without each one not playing their role in church with the talents that God gives us, the church is not as efficient as it could be. We may not be reaching all the people we can reach if you are not using your God-given talents at your local church. Yes, we need our senior pastor to set the tone. We need him to develop the game plan that God has given our particular local bodies of the church. The senior pastor takes the vision that God has given him and make it the focus for this local body. However, without having a church full of people making that vision happen, it remains just a vision. Everybody in the church is in this local church for a reason. It is because this local body needs your talents to execute the vision of your local church. You were drawn by the Holy Spirit to this church because this church needs the talents that you have to accomplish its mission. It is not coincidence that you are here. You are here at this place at this time with these people at this moment to accomplish what God has set out for us to do from this church at that this place at this time with these people. You are here for a reason. You have a role to play. Get in the game. Help execute God’s game plan for this city from this church.


Amen and Amen.

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