By Leonard Lauriault: QCS Religion Columnist
This year, I’m reading the Daily Bible (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR 1984), which places events and writings in chronological order and is divided into 365 daily readings. The February 4 reading included Numbers 7: 1-88, among other related passages. Contrary to my normal encouragement to read every scripture I cite, don’t read Numbers 7: 1-88 right now. I’ll briefly describe its contents. Do read all the other passages that are cited, though.
Numbers 7: 1-88 includes a list of nonpriestly tribal leaders, all 12 of them, and their respective gifts for the tabernacle dedication. About half way through the list, I realized that they all brought the same things. So, I wondered why God had dictated such a passage (2 Peter 2: 20, 21; 2 Timothy 3: 16, 17).
Scriptures are supposed to be profitable to us. How can we benefit from the fun parts if we have to wade our way through the book of Numbers and other boring passages? Some people might become discouraged and stop reading their Bible. Then I thought, “OK, God says all scriptures are profitable. So, what can I learn from Numbers 7: 1-88?”
First, each person might be mentioned by name because each person is important to God. Even before the world was created, he proved his love to everyone that’s ever been born and ever will be (Ephesians 1: 3-10; Romans 5: 6-8). God wants us to realize his love so much that he demonstrates his power and provision in creation and he puts each person in the perfect circumstances to become personally acquainted with him (Romans 1: 20; Acts 17: 24-28; 10: 34, 35; John 10: 2-5, 14, 15).
Second, each gift, however small or great or the same as everyone else’s, is significant in God’s eyes if it’s given from the heart (Deuteronomy 16: 16, 17; Luke 21: 1, 2; 2 Corinthians 8: 12: Romans 12: 1, 2). What God wants from us is us and our love (1 Corinthians 8: 3). He doesn’t need our goods or our abilities, but he knows that if he has us, our possessions will likely be used according to his will (Philippians 2: 12, 13; Colossians 3: 23, 24; James 4: 13-17). If we’ll commit ourselves completely to God, we’ll have contentment and joy (Philippians 4: 12, 13, 19; Matthew 6: 25-33). We’ll still have problems when we follow God’s voice, but we’ll have the joy and contentment of knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and its troubles (John 15: 18-21; 16: 33; Philippians 4: 4-9).
Finally, because Numbers 7: 1-88 seemed boring, it led to further study to develop this article. I came to realize that maybe God includes some boring passages in his word to cause us to dig deeper as we try to find their purpose and meaning. This prepares us to be better servants of God, which includes learning patience (self control and perseverance, 2 Peter 1: 3-11).
Patience is learned by putting up with the often repetitive boring or burdensome events of the present. Learning perseverance helps us wait for more pleasant future events, including eternal life when we’ll realize completely the good plans God has for us (Jeremiah 29: 11; Romans 5: 1-5; 2 Timothy 4: 7, 8).
I ran into another list on February 13 (Numbers 26: 1-65). This time I just read the passage without further ado. I know more lists are to come and I’m looking forward to each one. Some I’ll just read; others I know contain neat tidbits that will help me grow and might even cause me to dig deeper into the word.
If you’re reading through the Bible this year, or have an alternative devotional plan, hang in there. Read each day’s selections and ask God to open their meaning to you. If you don’t already have a regular devotional plan, there’s no time like the present to get started. Set aside a specific time and place each day to be alone with God and his word. Usually, it takes only about 15 minutes a day to read through the Bible in a year, unless you come across a passage that leads you on a trail of intrigue (likely more exciting than my lessons from Numbers 7).
If you don’t have a personal relationship with God, today is the day to begin (2 Corinthians 6: 2). To learn how important you are to God, read Numbers 7: 1-88, where he calls his people by name and gives his attention to their common gifts (Isaiah 43: 1; Exodus 33: 17; 2 Timothy 2: 19). Then, give me a call (461-4421) and we’ll see what God says in his word about your salvation (Acts 17: 11).
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ.