I’m often tempted to skim over passages like this or just to jump to the next bit. They repeat themselves except for the change of names or numbers and it doesn’t make for exciting reading. If you’re into statistics the numbers are interesting. 38 years after this census the population had reduced by 2,000 as they entered the Promised Land. In David’s time there were over 1.5 million. Interesting but none of that changes our world much!
But is that what this is all about? I think there’s more going on that has a massive bearing on the way our society is now. In this passage people are being given a role or purpose. Structure is being formed. The Levites were set aside as God’s priests. Their role was to establish the place of worship, facilitate it and to guard the spiritual life of the nation. They were to keep the people of God pure and holy for Him. The men over 20 were drafted into the army as infantry. Their role was to protect the nation from outside attack and as we’ll eventually see to help establish the nation in The Promised Land. All of that was done tribe by tribe and within that structure family by family. The implication is that everyone else had their own functions that are not outlined here. But imagine those who were administrators, trades people, educators, traders, cooks, farmers etc. everyone belonged to a family, to a tribe and to the nation. Everyone had a purpose. Everyone was valued. Everyone belonged.
If you look at our society now we’ve lost much of that. From the very start of life we see children being excluded from school – we tell them they don’t belong there. Family life has become so complicated that for some inter-family relationships have become complex and difficult. For some people knowing where they belong has become a complicated issue. We often hear that people struggle with isolation and loneliness or that our young people lack direction and purpose. Have we lost track of the fact that God made us for community?
So we should ask ourselves, “Do I know where I belong? Do I know what my purpose is? Do I understand how valuable I am?” (No matter what you think, YOU HAVE PURPOSE AND YOU ARE VALUABLE!) If we can answer those questions then we should be looking around at our family, friends and neighbours and asking the same questions for them and then helping them to see it for themselves. “Love one another.”
Take the word “Purpose” to God in prayer and see what He says for you or those around you.