How many Levites did it take to carry God’s Presence? 8,580, according to the census in this week’s Torah Portion in Numbers 4:21-7:89. When the Israelites journeyed through the Sinai desert on their way to the Promised Land, God housed His Presence in a temporary Sanctuary called the Tabernacle, allotting Levite men between the ages of 30-50 to transport it. One group of men, the Gershon family, handled the Tabernacle’s tapestries, veils, and coverings. The other family, Merari, carried the beams, boards, and pillars. All of this was contained in six wagons led by twelve oxen!
In this week’s scripture, God also introduced new laws to the Israelites, including the law of the Sotah woman and the law of the Nazirite. His goal was to keep His people’s bodies, lives, and ultimately, their hearts pure as they carried His Presence toward the Promised Land. He wanted to purify them so they could take hold of His Promise, which would finally be made manifest in the land of Milk and Honey they’d been waiting for since Egypt. This is why God’s Presence and Word are such powerful gifts: they not only teach us, but they sanctify us and set us apart for the abundant life God planned for us at the beginning of time.
So how does all this apply to us as modern believers in Messiah? It’s important to look back at the Torah and apply it to the life and teachings of Yeshua in the New Testament. Today, as believers in Yeshua (Jesus), we carry the Presence of God in a different way. At Shavuot (Pentecost), Yeshua ascended to Heaven after teaching the disciples the ways of the Kingdom. But He did not leave them without His Presence. He gave them–and all of us who believe–His Holy Spirit. Anyone who follows Yeshua now lives as the Tabernacle, empowered by the living Presence of the Creator.
There are some fascinating parallels we can draw from when we look at this week’s Torah Portion through the lens of our new life in Yeshua. First, each Levite man in the census had a specific role in carrying God’s Presence. Whether they handled the Tabernacle’s tapestries or carried its actual structural parts, they were each expected to steward it in a unique and important way. Similarly, we as believers carry the Holy Spirit with us in a profound way. God has entrusted us with His Presence, and He gives us all a unique role in displaying it to the world.
Also, God has given us the gift of His Word to prepare us for His destiny. The scriptures aren’t just arbitrary rules to follow. The Lord wants us to walk closely with Him and become like Him so we can fully grasp the promises and gifts He’s prepared for us! Empowered by the Presence and the Word of God, we have everything we need to step into the land of Promise He’s designed for us. One step at a time, partnered with Him, we move closer and closer to the glory of who God is and who we are in Him. May each one of us grasp the power of what it means to steward God’s Presence and live as people of the Word!