TODAY’S READING: Numbers 7–9
Numbers 7 seems to be a numbing, repetitive procession of priests, each one giving the same thing: platters, bowls, pans, bulls, lambs, and goats. The tragedy for many readers of the Bible is that when they lose the meta-narrative, they lose the meta-joy. Because the Bible relays the plans and purposes of our missionary God, we must ever keep in mind the big picture if we are to enjoy the big thrill.
There is purpose in everything recorded for us—and that’s not to put us to sleep. “The list of gifts presented to the Lord is highly formal and ceremonial (Num. 7:12). It resembles Egyptian pictures dating from 2650 B.C. that show servant after servant presenting trays of offerings to the temple. The ceremonial repetition produces an effect of order and abundance.” Priests bringing their offerings to the Lord, one after another, lavishing on Jehovah the best that they have, is a picture of the greatest offering that a royal priesthood can give to the King. One day around the throne, God’s people will walk towards it hand in hand with representatives from the nations: John Patton with former cannibals from the New Hebrides; Hudson Taylor with the Chinese; Adoniram Judson with Burmese; David Livingstone with Africans; and Samuel Zwemer with Arabs. Men and women in joyful parade one by one presenting to Jesus the gift He most treasures—souls. The presenters will be of every race. African missionaries presenting Russians. Arab missionaries presenting Afghani. Indian missionaries to Dubai presenting Emirati. Swedish missionaries presenting Turks. Latino missionaries presenting Indonesians. Abundant harvest, abundant joy.
Jehovah sets apart a priesthood within a people. “The Levites shall be Mine…wholly given to Me from among the children of Israel; I have taken them for Myself” (Num. 8:14, 16). This election is precious; it’s a microcosm of what God has done and is doing globally. He is setting apart for Himself a priesthood from every people. God looks over the diversity of our world and says of some Somali, “They shall be Mine!” God looks at war-torn Afghanistan and says of some specific Pashtun, “They shall be Mine!” God weeps over Mindanao and declares over radical Muslims there, “They shall be Mine!” God mourns over the darkness of Nepal and assures us that some of those Buddhists, “They shall be Mine!” Of Spanish secularists, Nigerian animists, and American pagans, the Lord thunders: “They shall be Mine!” What comfort to the priestly people of God. He has appointed us to go find, through preaching, those that will be His.
Numbers 9 relates the second Passover. Because the Passover was so critical, those that missed it in the first month were permitted to celebrate it the second month—included in that second chance were the strangers dwelling among the Israelites (9:14). God is relentless in His inclusion, and He won’t let us forget the unreached either. Another opportunity to be covered by the blood, another opportunity for the strangers to join in, “one ordinance, both for the stranger and the native of the land” (v. 14). And so the pillar and cloud lead us on, native and stranger together. Moroccan Berbers and European Dutch walking hand in hand in their ordered turn. Abundant harvest, abundant joy.
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 154.