toddler helping with dishes February 27 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Numbers 3, 4

Note: In the chronological order of Numbers a census of the Levites is taken, and assigned tasks are given to them before their dedication for service in the tabernacle.

God Wants Helpers

Mom likes her little helper. She wishes as her child grows he would continue to want to be her helper, but alas, kids grow up and lose interest. Did you know that in the Bible there are appointed helpers for ministry? Usually when people think of ministers, they immediately think of pastors or elders. Yet, what would be accomplished in the church if we did not have other dedicated servants to help? The burden would be too great to bear. The typical church has many unseen helpers like deacons, trustees, custodians, Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, nursery workers, musicians, and sound technicians.

In Old Testament days from Moses to King Solomon the tabernacle is the worship center for the Israelites. In the days of Moses, Aaron and his sons are the priests, but how can they possibly handle all the sacrifices for over two million people and take care of the maintenance of the tabernacle and all its furnishings?

The LORD knows they need help, so he tells Moses to take a census of all the people in the Levite tribes. From that census they are to count all the firstborn males. The male Levites are chosen to replace all the firstborn sons of Israel that are dedicated to God from all the tribes of Israel. This dedication was first instituted in remembrance of the time Egypt’s firstborn sons were killed, and Israel was delivered from slavery (Exodus 13:14,15). There are 22,000 males, one month old and above, just 273 less than all the firstborn sons of Israel. The remaining Israelite males are to give an offering of money as a value for each of them to make up the difference. From these firstborn males, Moses and Aaron are to choose males between thirty and fifty to do the work of the tabernacle and to transport it.* God chooses the Levites—they are his for service and worship.

Do you have a special relationship with the Lord? Is he your Savior? Today, God still chooses individuals for his service (Ephesians 1:3-14). Through the blood of Jesus Christ he forgives and cleanses them and sets them apart for service to him (i.e., he makes them holy, more...).

Our worship centers (churches) need workers. The leaders can't do it alone. Pastors or elders and other church leadership should take stock of their numbers, pray, and then appoint suitable helpers for their church ministry. Then, the pastor(s) or other church leadership will not be overburdened and can fulfill their own duties.


Once people are appointed to positions of service in the church, they are assigned specific tasks, and there must be someone who is responsible to oversee the work.

In the days of Israel's wilderness journeys there are 8,580 Levites, ages 30-50, who are appointed to help Aaron’s sons with the sacrifices (Numbers 4:46-49). They cannot make the offerings—only the priests can do that—but they can assist in other ways. Levites are also responsible for the maintenance and transportation of the tabernacle, and each of Aaron’s sons have responsibility to supervise the work. The only other exceptions to their Levitical service are the Sanctuary (the Holy Place where the table, the lampstand, and the altar of incense are located) and the Most Holy place, where the Ark of the Covenant is located—only priests can serve there.


Getting ready to move can be quite an difficult and tiring task. We have to carefully pack and mark valuables so they will not be broken. We have to plan for the moving of furniture and everything we will need in our new place. Then we have to get workers and vehicles together to help us move.

It will soon be time for the camp of Israel to move. The Levites have the duty of moving themselves and all the furniture and articles of the tabernacle. This might have been a strenuous task, but they are well organized. Each of Aaron’s three remaining sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, and their descendants are to supervise the task.

The Kohathites are responsible for carrying the most holy things of the Sanctuary after Aaron and his sons cover and protect them. The Ark of the Covenant is draped with the shielding curtain which separates the holy place from the most holy place and then is covered with hides of sea cows (probably porpoise skin from porpoise found in the Red Sea) and blue cloth. The altar of incense, the lampstand, and the table of showbread and all their accessories are individually wrapped in blue cloth (the table is also draped with a scarlet cloth). They are then protected from rain and wind with porpoise skin. The bronze altar is emptied of the ashes from sacrifices, then draped in purple and blue and is also covered with porpoise skin. Then the golden poles are inserted through the golden rings in the furniture so that the Kohathites can bear them on their shoulders. The articles are separated to God for holy use and are not to be touched. The penalty for looking at or touching them is death (Numbers 4:15, 20).

The Gershonites are responsible for the care and packing of all the curtains (except in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary) and their accessories used in the tabernacle and the courtyard. They, too, are covered with porpoise skin.

The Merarites are responsible for all the framework, posts, bases, ropes, and accessories of the tabernacle and courtyard.

God first dwells in the tabernacle, then in the temple, and now he dwells in the heart of each true believer in Christ (John 1:14). We are to assemble ourselves together and encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25). Although some assemble in homes or schools, most Christians assemble in church buildings. How much attention do we give to the building of our worship center? Do the inside and outside of the building glorify the God whom we worship? Do we take care of it? Do we also maintain our furniture and articles of worship?

*Note that in Numbers 8:24 the ages for Levitical service are 25 to 50, but other Bible reading says that only those who are between 30 and 50 may transport the tabernacle. Perhaps those who enter service at 25 are to maintain the tabernacle for five years to appreciate the value of the articles and furnishings they will later transport.

Lessons to Live By

  • Do you want to be a helper to God? Then you need a personal relationship with him so he can clean you up and make you separated for his service (more...)
  • Pastors or elders and other church leadership should take stock of their numbers, pray, and then appoint suitable helpers for their church ministry. Then the pastor(s) and other church leaders will not be overburdened and can fulfill their own duties.
  • Once people are appointed to positions of service in the church, they must be assigned specific tasks, and there should be someone who is responsible to oversee the work.
  • Take care of your worship center.

Focus Verses

1 Corinthians 12:11–12 (NIV) “All these [gifts and abilities] are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

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A Look Ahead: We all have duties to fulfill for our LORD. How do we encourage Ownership and Responsibility—Making a Person Feel Important.

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