What can you learn from the 'boring' parts of Scripture?
Some places in the Bible don’t tend to captivate us like others and it can be hard to understand why the Lord even included them. And, yet, every part and portion of Scripture is inspired by God and profitable unto the sanctification of God’s people (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The issue then is not with the Scriptures themselves but with our ability (or lack thereof) to see what lessons the Lord has stored up for us.
The early chapters of the book of Numbers tend to be one such place. A census of the tribes of Israel is taken, how they were to organize themselves in their encampment is delineated, and the duties of the Levitical clans is spelled out. Yet there are several lessons we can glean even from the first few chapters. Here are just a few:
1. Life is to be arranged around God with Him at the center. The tent of meeting, representative of God’s dwelling among the people, was placed at the center of the camp with all of the tribes arranged around it (Num. 2). When they set out from camp, the tent was to be carried by the Levites in the center of the moving caravan (Num. 2:17). The life and service of the Levites was ordered around their responsibilities regarding the tent and its service (Num. 3-4). God is not to be ‘fit in’ where there is room. Rather, everything is to be ordered around Him (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31; Matt. 6:33).
2. A congregational effort is required to fulfill God’s commands. No individual could have fulfilled all the work called for in the maintenance of the tent of meeting, in the taking of the census, or in the organization of the covenant community (Num. 1-4). It required the cooperation and effort of the whole community, each family and member playing their appropriate role. The same is true for our congregations today. A church is not primarily a collection of individuals but a unified body made up of many members who are to work in concert for the edification of the whole and the exaltation of its Head, Jesus Christ (cf. Eph. 4:1-16).
3. Different people have different roles. Each of the Levitical clans was responsible for different aspects of the service related to the tent of meeting. The Kohathites were responsible for the utensils and furniture; the Gershonites for the curtains, hangings, and coverings; the Merarites for the structural elements and framework; and the family of Aaron for the service of worship. For this to work, each needed to know their duties, accept their role, and be at peace with not having another role. The same is true in the Church of Jesus Christ today: not all preach, or administrate, or practice healing, or speak in tongues, etc. (1 Cor. 12:27-30). Some have been given one gift and some another for the service of the whole. Each must be content and equipped in their role for the whole to prosper (1 Cor. 12:4-26).