Day 18

Provision for the Priesthood

from the reading plan

Numbers 17:1-13, Numbers 18:1-32, Lamentations 3:24, Colossians 3:23-24

I recently read a book with my third grader about what life may have been like in Nazareth when Jesus grew up there. It was fascinating to learn about the mud floors and daily schedules of farmers back then. But what stuck out to me most was a note about the homes of some Hebrew people—the author of the book presented the idea that some of God’s people did not put any pictures on their walls. This was possibly done in an effort to avoid the temptation of looking up at something and wanting to worship it instead of God. I looked up from the book we were reading at our own walls. We have some Scripture on our walls, but I also saw a painting of my husband’s grandfather’s family farm, some dried flowers, and photographs of our kids. I was reminded of this moment when looking at our reading today.

In today’s passage, God’s people left Egyptian slavery behind and found themselves in the wilderness awaiting the promised land. There were all types of people in this group, some of whom were set apart as priests. And in one of today’s key verses, we are reminded that the priests’ inheritance looked different from the rest of the people’s.

While many of those wilderness wanderers may have been looking forward to the fulfillment of more tangible promises, like land to pass down to their children as an inheritance, there were priests and Levites who knew they were to inherit “God Himself.” Even with all the special privileges that came with being a priest, I wonder if any of those priests ever felt jealous of the people whose inheritance was the physical land.

I live on some land, and we still have that painting of the land my husband’s family owned on our wall. A tangible home is a big deal, a need, and a longing. It’s also easy to make the comfort of home an idol. It’s easy to make your whole life about where you live, as if your inheritance ends with four walls and what’s inside them. I’ve walked with Jesus for twenty-four years now, so it’s much easier for me today than it was at first to remember times when I experienced God’s presence, His comfort, His miraculous power. But I’m still tempted to hang other things on the wall and put my hope in them, you know? I can forget what a treasure it is to have God Himself be my inheritance.

Back when the book of Numbers was written, the Israelites had to go through the priests to be cleansed from the sin that separated them from God. We are now living more than two thousand years after the cross, and Jesus, our High Priest, gives us direct access to God. We can experience the beautiful inheritance of with-ness with Him, in our cars and bedrooms and back porches and church sanctuaries. What an unbelievable gift.

Whether or not my walls and floors look like those of the Hebrew people, I certainly tend to hang things on the walls of my heart and mind that threaten to steal away worship and adoration of the only One who is worthy. Maybe it’s the same for you. I’m praying today that we each see the beauty of our inheritance in our relationship with Jesus.

Written by Scarlet Hiltibidal

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