(An extract from “Two Seconds to Midnight“)
Not a tame lion…
In Numbers 3 – 4 we read of the specific tasks allotted to the Levites. Unless our Bible study resources take us to the books of the Law, we (or is it just me?) tend to pass over these sections of Scripture in favour of the sweeping narratives of Samuel and Kings, the beauty and the raw emotion of the Psalms, the wonders of the prophets and of course the grace-filled New Testament. But if we want to encounter the holiness of our God we will find Him above the place of atonement in the tabernacle of Moses. We too easily humanise our heavenly Father. Yes, He is Abba. Yes, He welcomes us into His arms. Yes, He sings a song of love over us. But His accessibility by the blood of Jesus and His presence among us does not dilute the awesomeness of His majesty. As C.S. Lewis famously said in the Chronicles of Narnia, He is not a tame lion. While we inhabit our tents of flesh we cannot see Him as He is (1 John 3:2), but this does not diminish who He is among us. Because grace had not been given (one could say that Moses was the exception) the Levites only had a detailed set of regulations to keep them safe from destruction as they carried out their duties. The power that emanates from His being and permeated through all the sacred objects is like the electricity coursing through overhead power cables: touch it and you die. Such was – such is – the power that if any of the Kohathites, whose job was to transport the ark on their shoulders, even looked at a part of the load that was not their designated area, they would be destroyed. When God was allocating the tasks He gave specific instruction to Moses regarding the Kohathites “that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy things” (Numbers 4:19).
The pure perfection of creative love that made and powers the universe is not cuddly daddy. This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead. This is the cable that is coiled inside our spirits. Because we have the insulation of the blood of Jesus we can grasp the power line, but because we can grasp it without being destroyed does not diminish it at all; it just gives us an understanding of the power of the blood of Christ.
The Kohathites, and the other two Levite families, the sons of Gershon and Merari, were given their tasks for a specific purpose: the tabernacle where God dwelt among His people had to be transported into the promised land, where He planned for His holy presence to drive out the occupying idolatrous Canaanites. In the Old Testament, as in the New, the servants of God were appointed tasks so that the works of the evil one could be destroyed and the kingdom of God established in the Land. As we move forward in the giftings and ministries that we feel God has called us into let us be aware of the holiness of the tabernacle that we are carrying.
A Different Spirit
We are called into the kingdom, and gifted for our service to the King, for the same purpose that our Old Testament counterparts were appointed to, which is to take the land. Romans 11:29 tells us that “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”. This was written about the salvation of the nation of Israel, but it applies to each one of us in the church today.
“But there are giants!” whimpered all the leaders except Joshua and Caleb. And indeed there were. But it seemed like those giants knew more about the power and presence of God than the Israelites He was dwelling among: “They have heard that You, Lord, are among these people; that You, Lord, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night” (Numbers 14:14). We know the story. Caleb and Joshua knew their God: “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9). Sadly, their compatriots didn’t. Caleb, we are told, “had a different spirit”. Joshua had an insatiable hunger for the presence of God, which we read about in Exodus 33:11: “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” When God speaks of Caleb and Joshua the phrase He uses is that they “wholly followed the Lord” (Numbers 32:12). They were yoked to Him.
For us to take the land that God has led us to, wherever and whatever it is, two things are needed. We need the Caleb spirit, that knows that whatever the difference in strength and power may be between ourselves and the giants we face, that pales into insignificance when compared to the difference between those giants and the God who is with us. And we need to realise that it is not us who take the land, but God, by the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit. Giants can only be defeated supernaturally. If we, the church, will transport the holy presence of God into enemy-occupied territory, the gates of hell shall not prevail against us. God will clear the ground before us and we will sow seeds that bear fruit. What a high calling! And what satisfaction, what rest for the soul, to know that I am carrying my bit of the Ark on my shoulders.