Scripture stand out more readily than others. Some stories capture the attention of the casual reader, like dear sweet Jochebed and brave, heroic David. It's easy to see why children can become enchanted with the stories of the Bible. But, there is so much more in the Bible that remains unnoticed by casual reading. Bible reading becomes almost intoxicating when you dig deeper. It seems like the more you know, the more you have to dig to get a better taste. Like the harder drugs or alcohol bring a greater sense of euphoria. Or, so I've been told, as I have never experimented with even gateway drugs. So, just ignore any idotic thing I may inadvertantly say about drug usage, seeing that I am not well versed on that subject, and didn't really listen in Health class.
In the book of Numbers is an exciting story of redemption and desire, possession, and purchase. So, you think I'm lying now? The title is very misleading. Actually it is probably the most boring meaningless title for a book isn't it? Let me show you the real story. God gave birth to the nation of Israel in Genesis, the book of beginnings.
In Exodus, the child Israel grew in bondage, like Joseph. God delivered His children from bondage in a mighty act of deliverance that took a series of plagues against Egypt to effect. The last of those plagues was the death of the
firstborn of all Egypt. Now, this would have convinced the hardest hearts to listen to Moses, to lose your firstborn child. But, those who were under the blood were saved. From that day of God's deliverance from bondage, God declared to Moses that all the firstborn of Israel would belong to Him, seeing that He had saved their lives from the plague of death.
You've heard stories where a person saved another person's life, and the saved man felt he owed his life of service to the man who saved him. That is exactly the case with Christians, and with the firstborn Israelites. But, the day comes, after the Israelites are in the wilderness and ready to move towards possession of the promised land, when God organizes the little band of men into a nation. Moses takes a census of the men of war above the age of 20 in Numbers 1, but doesn't count the Levites. God says the Levites will now be His to use as priests, instead of the firstborn of every family. Numbers 3:12,13.
Of course, God knows how to make a trade. He also keeps count of what belongs to Him. The firstborn were already his. He ordered Moses to count the firstborn, and a total of 22,273 is reported. Then God orders a count of the Levites, every male above one month of age. That's interesting. God only counted the men of war above the age of 20. But, when He was counting His own of the Levites, He counted even the babies. We all belong to God regardless of age.
But, back to the counting. I was totaling the numbers in the margin of my Bible as I read, when I first read this story several years ago. The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Gershon's family numbered 7,500. Kohath's family was counted at 8,600, and Merari's family totaled 6,200 males. I totaled that to get 22,300. When I finished reading the counting...after I had already added... Numbers 3:39 gave the total as 22,000.
Notice that that number is different from the number of the total of the individual families. This could be due to several factors. I call the number recorded in verse 39, the "Total accepted Levitical count" because that was the
number accepted and recorded by Moses, Aaron, and God. The other 300 were not accepted in the number for some reason. It could be perhaps, that the firstborn Levites were excluded so that they would not be counted twice. Or those 300 may have been on "disability" for some reason or other. We know that God said the Levites with a handicap were not to be put to work in the temple, but were to be fed...God's disability plan for priests...they can eat without working. Leviticus 21:22. Regardless, they were not part of the accepted count.
Look back at the total number of the firstborn, 22,273. Without the 300 that were not accepted, God will be losing a total of 273 souls in the trade. They want to do the right thing by the God of the Universe when they calculate their gift. So, God tells Moses to set the redemption price at 5 shekels apiece for the 273 firstborn that are not replaced by acceptable Levites. This totals 1,365 shekels to be paid to God's treasury by the Israelites. Now, God has a tabernacle, priests, and a treasury.
It is noteworthy that 5 shekels, the redemption gift of a firstborn child, was a small amount, and was
equal to the amount that Joseph was sold into slavery for by his brothers in Genesis. And, Scientists calculate the worth of all our basic elements in any given human body to be about $4.70. So, don't think God is devaluing us. He is giving us a higher market value at the value of five silver dollars today. So, go ahead and sell out to God, since the world won't give you what Jesus did on the cross.
The part that grabbed my heart was the fact that God desired ownership of the Levites, and he didn't want them counted along with the rest of the Israelites, because they were his. Possessed, owned by God Almighty. But, he did not forget that these firstborn were His. These things were done as a type of Redemption at the cross.
Today, God has purchased and redeemed us off the slave market of sin. We belong to the God of the Universe. He paid a price for us in blood. He knows who is His. He counts us everyone. He talks about this ownership throughout Scripture. And, in the end, He will take us to Himself. Revelation 21:3.
We are instructed to care for the possession of God, which he purchased with his blood. Acts 20:28. Don't think you are not an overseer. Regardless of your position in church, somebody is watching you. Remember when we have baby dedications in church, the church is pledging to be an example in front of the child of a Christian, and not become a stumbling block before him as he is raised before God. Just like the parents are responsible for his upbringing, so are the fellow church members responsible for the example of Christianity that they show this child.
I think it is remarkable the way God seems to be jealous of His own people. Exodus 34:14. Romans 14:8. When one is lost, God will not rest seeking him. Luke 15;7.