"...remember to include the Levites..." Deuteronomy 12:12 NLT
These five words were a reminder to a nation that had often rebelled against God's way and had many times forsaken His design for a healthy community. You see, God's design included the welfare of those who would serve the nation through prayers of intercession and presenting the offerings people brought to worship the Lord. What led to this instruction from God?
If you recall, the tribal leaders coerced Aaron into making an idol of a golden calf. Once Aaron had completed the work on the statue, the people declared their allegiance to it and began worshiping it - thus committing idolatry. There was a huge celebration with men and women dancing around the symbol that would give them favor in the eyes of the other nations - showing their neighboring countries that they shared similar religious practices. Just as the party was getting warmed up, Moses showed up after descending Mount Sinai with the first set of tablets on which God had engraved the Ten Commandments... with His own hand.
Once Moses witnessed the disgraceful behavior of the people, he became so angry that he threw the sacred tablets down... smashing them into a rubble of broken laws... literally... just about every one of them was broken by the nation of Israel that moment. (Moses recalled the entire event in Dt. 9:7-29) With the originals being irreparably damaged, God instructed Moses to chisel out two stone tablets similar to the first ones, (Dt. 10:1) as well as a sacred chest to be made of wood. Moses complied by constructing the chest from acacia wood. Moses made the trek back to the top of Mount Sinai where God, once again, engraved the Ten Commandments upon the tablets. Moses placed the tablets in the sacred chest called an Ark.
The nation broke camp and headed toward Jotbathah, a land with many brooks and streams (10:7). It was at that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the Ark of the Covenant, and act as His ministers, as well as to pronounce blessings in His name. (v.8) The Levites were to understand their inheritance as the Lord, Himself - they had no share of property in the promised land. While the nation traveled and set-up camp at Jotbathah, Moses ascended back to the top of Mount Sinai, where he stayed for forty days and nights. (v.10)
During the next forty days God provided Moses with instruction relevant for us today:
- Fear God's omnipotent power; this gives Him the right to judge. (v.12 & 11:1)
- Live to please God: by loving and serving Him with a whole heart. (v.12)
- Obey His commands... they were given for our good. (v.13 & 11:1)
- Let God's way change our hearts... do not stubbornly refuse to change. (v.16)
- God is Who He says He is. (v.17)
- Show love to foreigners. (v.19)
- The blessing and the curse from embracing or refusing God's way. (11:16-28)
For a moment, God reminds Moses of the future with another five simple words: "When He gives you rest..." (12:10) The Lord once again commands Moses to remember to worship Him on the appointed day - the day of rest for when God provides rest... which is why the nation was to: "...remember to include the Levites..." (12:12) God repeats the instruction in verse nineteen after describing the practice of sharing the sacrificial meat in a meal with the Levites who prepared the sacrifices.
Across America, the Christian culture of today falls woefully short of this instruction given to Moses. The American church has scorned God's omnipotence by embracing contemporary cultural practices. Serving God has become something only a minister does, and is not seen as a Christian's responsibility. Obeying the Ten Commandments has been reduced to following one's own heart, which we stubbornly refuse to be transformed by God's redeeming grace. Those who attest to following Christ are filled with intentions to harm or mistreat the foreigners living among us. Christians across the country by-in-large disregard any teaching of a blessing or curse - deeming it superstitious. Pastors across the land are dropping out in record numbers due to the harsh treatment given them by parishioners. There doesn't seem to be a heart of compassion for one's pastor, even a heart leading to dine with one's pastor.
Let this blog remind us to remember the Levites, as well as God's way given to bless us personally, which will also bless our families, our neighborhoods, our cities, our counties, our states, our nation, and the world.
I will remember,
steve (John 3:30)