Posts Tagged ‘glory’

Numbers 4:1-20

Duties of the Kohathite Clan

Have you ever noticed that some parents want to be their children’s friend rather than be a true parent to their children? Some parents are afraid that they will lose their “friendship” with their children if they take a hard line on disciplining their children. They are afraid that their children will hate them or cause their home to be a difficult one to live in if they discipline their children. They want to be buddies with the kid. As a result, such parents end up having unruly children and end up hating their parents anyway. As parents, we were not put on this earth to be, contrary to 21st century sensibilities, our children’s friend or buddies or pals. We were put on this earth to raise them up to be responsible adults. We were put on this earth to teach them the ways of the world so that they can survive in it and even flourish in it as adults. We were put on this earth to teach them right from wrong. We were put on this earth to teach them about actions and consequences. We were put on this earth to teach them about hard work and rewards and about the lack of rewards for laziness. We were put on this earth to, yes, love and protect and provide for them but never at the expense showing them the way to adulthood. Being buddies with your child never produces the intended results. Being the cool parents to your kids will often lead to children who grow up thinking that they are entitled to a certain kind of lifestyle without having to put forth any effort. It can lead to disastrous results. You can end up with a child in their twenties that lives in your basement and doesn’t see the need to “get a life” of their own among other unintended results of being buddies with your kids.

 

I know that with my father and mother, I knew that they loved me. They sacrificed greatly so that my brother and I could have what we needed to survive. Some of the best times that I had growing up was with my family. Some of my most unique and funny memories are things that I did with my mom and with my dad. One of my favorite memories was when I was about 10 years old and my dad and I were traveling back from Columbia to our home, at the time, in Anderson, SC. We stopped to get a soft drink after getting outside of Columbia and from that point forward until our soft drinks were gone, we had a burping contest. The contest was to see who could have the longest burp or who could say the most syllables of a word or words while burping. It was a priceless father-son moment. However, I respected my dad beyond belief. That was what made the fun moments most fun was because I knew who the boss was. Dad was not a tyrannical father but he was the authority in our house. I knew what the boundaries of behavior were and I knew there would be consequences for bad behavior. He never wavered in our consequences. If he said this is your punishment, that would be your punishment. There was no negotiating our way out of the consequences of bad behavior. I hated his consistency and his willingness to stay the course at the time, but looking back I am glad he did. I knew that my parents loved me. Without question, I knew this! They showed us love with hugs and kisses and hanging out together and playing sports with us. However, I knew my place as child and their place as parents. There was an understanding that I was not equal to them. The roles were properly defined. There was no blurring of the lines between being a parent to me and being a friend.

 

It was that proper relationship between a parent and a child that was the thought that came to mind when I read through today’s passage. It might seem odd to think of that in a passage about the duties and responsibilities of the Kohathite clan within the tribe of Levi at the tabernacle. As you know, the tribe of Levi was assigned responsibility for the Tabernacle and as we open Chapter 4 of Numbers, we see that God gave specific assignments to each clan within the Levite tribe for the care of the Tabernacle. After you read it, you may wonder how I came to this thought of proper relationships but I will, I promise, tie it together when we finish reading the passage:

 

4 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2 “Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families. 3 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

 

4 “This is the work of the Kohathites at the tent of meeting: the care of the most holy things. 5 When the camp is to move, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain and put it over the ark of the covenant law. 6 Then they are to cover the curtain with a durable leather,[a] spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles in place.

 

7 “Over the table of the Presence they are to spread a blue cloth and put on it the plates, dishes and bowls, and the jars for drink offerings; the bread that is continually there is to remain on it. 8 They are to spread a scarlet cloth over them, cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

 

9 “They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand that is for light, together with its lamps, its wick trimmers and trays, and all its jars for the olive oil used to supply it. 10 Then they are to wrap it and all its accessories in a covering of the durable leather and put it on a carrying frame.

 

11 “Over the gold altar they are to spread a blue cloth and cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

 

12 “They are to take all the articles used for ministering in the sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover that with the durable leather and put them on a carrying frame.

 

13 “They are to remove the ashes from the bronze altar and spread a purple cloth over it. 14 Then they are to place on it all the utensils used for ministering at the altar, including the firepans, meat forks, shovels and sprinkling bowls. Over it they are to spread a covering of the durable leather and put the poles in place.

 

15 “After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting.

 

16 “Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, is to have charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular grain offering and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire tabernacle and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles.”

 

17 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 18 “See that the Kohathite tribal clans are not destroyed from among the Levites. 19 So that they may live and not die when they come near the most holy things, do this for them: Aaron and his sons are to go into the sanctuary and assign to each man his work and what he is to carry. 20 But the Kohathites must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die.”

 

The Kohathites along with the other two clans to be mentioned in this chapter were family clans within the Levite tribe who assigned special tasks for the maintenance and care of the Tabernacle and in Israel’s worship of God within it. They were expected to carry out their duties in exacting detail as described here. Failure to do so would result in death. This contrasted greatly with the culture from which they were enslaved, the Egyptian culture. There, worshipers of the Egyptian gods could purchase amulets and potions related to their gods. The idols of their gods could be touched and handled and thus reduced to common everyday elements. This is because their gods were not real. Man makes up his own rules when he creates gods of his own making. However, our God is a holy God. He is separate and distinct from His Creation. Therefore, Israel was being taught proper respect for being in the presence of a perfect and holy God. Since He was and is far greater and far better and more awesome than anything in His creation, He is teaching the Israelites how to take great care so as not to be consumed and die in His presence because we are imperfect and He is perfect and He must make sure that we take care when we have the opportunity on this side of heaven to come into His presence. Since He is the Almighty God who is perfection itself, we would be consumed, burned up, would die in His presence because of being imperfect. I don’t quite think that we grasp that, but it is really a thing. Imperfection cannot exist in the presence of perfection without being burnt up. Think of iron ore being smelted. Imperfections are consumed and burned up in the smelting process. It’s kind of like that.

 

Too often in our 21st century sensibilities, and this is where we tie this though of parent-child relationships into what we have read about the special care of the objects in the Tabernacle, we try to make God our friend. We even sometimes say we are co-pilots with him. In the 21st century, we like to think of ourselves as in control of our world and of our own destiny. Therefore, we have elevated ourselves and demystified our God. We want to be buddies with Him. We want to be pals with Him. Even in my own Bible from which has footnotes to help explain the passages and in other biblical materials nowadays, we have made subtle changes to the relationship. Hardly ever (and I one of the few that still does) do you see pronouns referencing God capitalized anymore (instead of He, Him, Himself, and so on, we now use he, him, himself and so on). We want to be buddies with God. He is our pal. We even pray to Him like he is our buddy. We do not take time to properly prepare for prayer. We just talk to him as we are doing other things. We do not prostrate ourselves in prayer. We do not have alone time for prayer. I dare say that most of us do not have a quiet, special place where we go to have quiet prayer time with the Lord. We do not honor Him the way He should be honored. I am not saying that we should not talk to Him throughout the course of the day. We should! However, we do need those times where we approach Him in humble reverence. We need to treat God like He is God.

 

He is not our buddy. He is God of the Universe. He is the Creator of all Things. He is Almighty. He is Perfection. He is God of Strength. He is God of Infinite Wisdom. He is God of All Knowledge. He is Holy. He is Mighty. He is Perfect. He is Everything. We are, by contrast, like a grand of sand in His Presence. We have forgotten how holy God is. We have forgotten the reverence with which we should treat Him. He is All and we are nothing. He is not our buddy. He is our Father. He is a good, good Father. We should know, yes, that He loves us with unbounding love. He loves us so much that He gave us away to exist in His presence even with our imperfections through the perfection of Jesus Christ. So, yes, He loves us intimately and pursues us relentlessly. But He is God. Let us remember our place in this relationship. We are the sons and daughters of God. We are not His equal. He has no equal. He is God. We are His children. Let us always remember to approach Him with the reverence and awe that He deserves. He is not our buddy.

 

Amen and Amen.

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Luke 9:28-36 — Today, we move on from the powerful passage of Luke 9:22-27 on to the equally powerful passage, Luke 9:28-36. We will spend a day or two, maybe more here as well. One of the first impressions of this passage is memories. There are certain memories burned in your mind even years later. You will never forget these memories. Even if you can’t remember today what you did with your car keys, you can remember these certain memories.

One of those for memories for me is in basketball when I was 40 years younger than I am now. At age 12, in church league basketball. That year was a magical moment in time that I will never forget and I look back on it now as an inspiration even today. Trinity UMC in Anderson was the church. It was a church that seemingly was for all the non-lifetime residents of Anderson, SC. At Trinity, for the most part, everyone was not originally from Anderson. So, when we got thrown together as a basketball team as 11 and 12 year olds, none of really knew each other. Things started off real rocky dropping 3 of our first 4 games by wide margins. After that though, something began to click. We went on to 7 of our last 8 games some by pretty big margins. We played excellent defense and were truly a team on offense. We blew past our first two opponents in the tournament. In the championship game, it was a rubber match between us and Boulevard Baptist. That championship game is still in my memory. It was a game in which we played our best game of the year and won the championship. I remember virtually every offensive and defensive play in that game. At the end of the game, we were all celebrating how far we had come, celebrating a championship, and you just wanted that moment to never end. I am 52 years old now, but I can still replay that game in my mind. It was a bright shining moment. It is burned in my memory. I look back on it now, and it brings a smile to my face.

I think for Peter, James and John that is how they must have thought of this moment right here in this text. They could remember every detail. It is here that Jesus reveals His true identity. In a previous passage, Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was. Peter rightly announced that Jesus was the Son of God. Here, Jesus confirms it. If there was any doubt in their minds before, this moment in time right here simply blows away any previous doubts. There would be no denying it now. Jesus is the Son of God. His divinity hidden is now shown all about them. Jesus is transfigured into His divine nature as He existed and still exists in the Trinity now. We will talk about Elijah, Moses and what they symbolize. We will talk about the inner circle of Peter, James and John, but for this moment, let’s think about the memories made here for these three disciples. Wow! Could you imagine? Jesus really revealing to you, right in front of you, his divine nature. How awe inspiring a moment! Peter, James and John could not forget this moment even if they tried! This moment, they would remember for years and years.

This is the message to us today. Jesus is more than some great philosopher. More than just some radical rabbi. More than just some political revolutionary. He is the living Son of God. This incident showed the true majesty and glory of Jesus. We had seen glimpses of this previously in Chapter 8, where Jesus stills the storm. You might can explain away that stilling of the storm as a coincidence. Here, though, you gotta believe or you don’t. Jesus reveals in transfigured fashion who He really is. The inner circle of disciples will remember this moment forever. This moment will carry them through many trials and tribulations in the early history of the church. Each will suffer. Two will die in the name of Jesus. One is relegated to an island to die of old age alone. All for the name of Jesus Christ. Do you think that drew back on this memory for inspiration?

Peter makes that clear in 2 Peter 1:16-18 some 35 years after this moment on the mountain, when he says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” Combine this transfiguration with the resurrection, you will understand why these disciples were willing to lay their lives on the line for the spread of the gospel. They were willing to take beatings, imprisonment, being shunned by society, ridiculed, and, even, death. They knew of the true identity of Jesus Christ. They had seen his majesty and glory right here on this mountain. It serves as watershed moment in their lives. It is burned in their memory. I bet Peter, James, and John could remember everything about this moment right here many, many years down the road just as I remember that church league tournament championship game.

The lesson for you and I is that Jesus is the Son of God. He reveals it right here in this Scripture passage. When things get tough for us, we must be like Peter and even years later draw on the inspiration of this revelation. Jesus is the Son of God. He is bigger than any problem I have. He is not just some philosopher. He is not some just great guy. He is God in the flesh. No matter what we go through, this should inspire us. This should carry us. We should look back on this moment in Scripture and push on. My championship moment in the sun though just some little church league tournament for kids in little 1970’s Anderson, SC gives me confidence that I have what it takes to accomplish goals even to this day. Similarly, we should draw confidence from the true identity of Jesus Christ no matter what happens to us in life. No how much we suffer. No matter the deep dark valleys we go through. No matter the setbacks in life that we encounter. Jesus is, for real, the Son of God. No matter what we encounter. Jesus is the Son of God. No matter the trials and tribulations. Jesus is the Son of God. No matter what. Jesus is the Son of God. No matter what….Jesus is….The Son of God. Remember this moment in this Scripture and reflect on six month, six years, six decades later…Jesus is the Son of God.

Romans 15:1-13 — To give God glory and to understand God’s glory. Giving God glory is our aim or should be in everything we do. Knowing Scripture helps us understand God’s glory.

Giving God glory is the dominating theme of this passage. First, our actions should be to give God glory in everything we do. Paul is telling us that we give God glory through how we treat one another. For Paul, it was the Jew vs. non-Jew, slave vs. free, rich vs. poor. By implication, we must be majoring on our similarities as Christians not on our differences. Satan wants us to be fractured. Satan wants us to be pointing fingers at one another. The fractures within the church as whole, all the different ways we have split ourselves up (Catholic vs. Protestant, and within Protestantism — Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc.) makes us less effective as a whole. Fractures within our local bodies make us less effective. Satan loves discord in the church. Discord within our local bodies and the church at large gets us focused on ourselves and not our primary mission. Our primary mission is to give God glory.

How to we give God glory within our body of Christ, by remembering that Christ did not come to earth to simply please Himself. He came to give God glory by His words, actions, and deeds. He gave God glory by teaching of God’s love. He gave God glory by encouraging all who were seeking God. Jesus gave God glory by offering God’s love to all who would listen to Him. He gave God glory by being obedient to the Father to the point of dying on the cross for our sins. He did not seek His own glory but rather to give glory to the Father.

How then do we put this into practice in our local church body? We seek not to glorify ourselves or those who are just like us. We give God glory by our own humility. We give God glory by not being territorial over our functions within the church. What does it matter who gets credit for something positive the church does as long as the job gets done? What does it matter as long as God is glorified? When our motivation is to glorify God, then, our egos do not need to be stroked. When ego comes into play, we find division and divisiveness within the body. Is this the kind of glory to God that we want to present to the lost soul. Do we want to present to them a group of petty people who are more concerned about the trees we have marked as our territory than we sharing the love of Christ? When we get it, that it is not about us, but rather about giving God glory by drawing all nations and all tongues unto Christ, then, and only then can we be effective tools. Let us seek unity with one another. Let us recognize and respect each other’s differences but let us seek unity in that we all are forgiven sinners. That is our common bond. Jesus is the source of our unity. Our unity comes from knowing that and expressing that and living that. Jesus is my Jesus and He is yours. We are both sinners covered in grace no matter if I am white guy and you are black, no matter if I am a man and you are a woman, not matter if I am educated and you are not, no matter if I am rich and you are poor, no matter if I am young and you are old. We are God’s kids. Our unity in that fact, that we are all kids of the King. That’s what people should see in us — that despite our differences we have unity in Christ. Our unity gives God glory and draws others to Him through our unity in a world of discord.

Paul tells us to that God is a God to be glorified because He has been faithful to His people. We can have confidence in that. How do we have confidence in that? By knowing Scripture. The more we know about what God did in the past, the greater the confidence we have about what He will do in the days ahead. The Bible gives us confidence in God’s glory. We have example after example in the Bible that God is faithful to those who seek Him and give Him glory. Knowing Scripture helps us to be less likely to see our own glory. Knowing Scripture helps us to not try to control things ourselves. Knowing Scripture is to know God’s glory. We don’t have to worry when we place our faith and control of our lives into God’s hand. We know from Scripture that He is faithful. When we live in this confidence, it helps us let go of our ego, our need to be in control. We know from Scripture that God’s got this. In our bold confidence in the Lord, we can more easily seek unity among our brethren. We are not scared for our future because we know what God has done in the past. Therefore, we seek God’s way and not our own because we know Scripture. When we all are trying to align ourselves with God’s unity results. In our unity, God is glorified. Without knowledge of Scripture, we give our opinions and our values greater rein and discord results. Each of us together reading Scripture daily under the influence of the Holy Spirit leads to unity. It is through Scripture that we are led to be more Christ-like. By being more Christ-like, we give God glory. By being more Christ-like we become unified.

Father, help us as Christians to encourage one another because we are all children of God. Help us to seek to build each other up. Help us to see what we have in common in Christ rather than majoring on our differences. Help us in so doing bring others to knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Through our unity and love for one another despite the ways that we are different, help us to draw people unto you because our unity makes us so different from the world of discord in which we live. Help us to be confident in all these things through understanding Scripture. Help us to see how faithful that you are so that we have great confidence in your faithfulness. Help us to have faith that you are the God of Scripture. In this confidence, we no longer have to worry. Without worry, we can be unified in giving you glory and demonstrating your faithfulness to your people in a world where anarchy and lies reign. Amen.