84 This was the dedication offering for the altar on the day when it was anointed, from the chiefs of Israel: twelve silver plates, twelve silver basins, twelve golden dishes, 85 each silver plate weighing 130 shekels and each basin 70, all the silver of the vessels 2,400 shekels according to the shekel of the sanctuary, 86 the twelve golden dishes, full of incense, weighing 10 shekels apiece according to the shekel of the sanctuary, all the gold of the dishes being 120 shekels; 87 all the cattle for the burnt offering twelve bulls, twelve rams, twelve male lambs a year old, with their grain offering; and twelve male goats for a sin offering; 88 and all the cattle for the sacrifice of peace offerings twenty-four bulls, the rams sixty, the male goats sixty, the male lambs a year old sixty. This was the dedication offering for the altar after it was anointed. (Numbers 7:84-88)
Through the Bible: Numbers 7
I used to be an editor for Sunday School curriculum. The piece I edited used the Biblical commentary from a more in-depth weekly study. It had six pages of commentary for each week. My piece had two pages. So a big part of my job was to go through what I was provided and eliminate everything I could without losing the heart of the teaching.
And so I read Numbers 7, and I think, I could have had this down to a paragraph. Over a twelve day period, twelve guys from twelve tribes brought identical offerings. Every offering was the same. God could have gone straight to verses 84-88 (and even those verses could be tightened up) and then got to the good part: Moses went “into the Tent of Meeting.” This is the first time this phrase is used in Scripture. Recall that at the end of Exodus, he was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the glory of the Lord filled it (see Exodus 40:35).
But now that the tabernacle has been dedicated, with every tribe participating equally in worshiping the Lord and providing for the tabernacle’s ministry, Moses can meet with the holy God.
I’m reminded throughout Numbers that God doesn’t edit when it comes to people. He doesn’t see a “youth group,” a “children’s ministry,” or a “megachurch.” He sees individuals, and he numbers each hair on each head. God doesn’t see a solar system, galaxy, or universe. He sees each star, and He calls it by name.
God doesn’t see nations or kingdoms. Instead, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our God.
Seeing individual people takes a lot longer than categorizing groups. We tend to label, and when we do, it is usually negative.
- “All the old people in our church.”
- “Those Millenials.”
- “The trouble with kids today.”
- “Those immigrants.”
- “That sort of people.”
- “The refugees.”
- “The police.”
It’s convenient to label and group and categorize. It’s easy to see people as statistics instead of hearing one person’s story. It takes a long time to learn each person’s story, to take note of the gifts and talents and offerings they bring to the table. As tedious as Numbers 7 is, it helps me practice seeing people like God sees them.
I’m so thankful I will have ten trillion years to hear their stories.