Keeping Christ at the center!
The local church serves to help keep Christ at the center of our worship.
And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2“Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard, beside the emblems of his father’s house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting.
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Keeping Christ at the center!
The book of numbers includes many details that pertain to how the Israelites were to live and relate to God. That includes how they were to set up their camp as we see in this chapter. That makes sense that God would do that because there were a couple million of them and without some organization it would have been total chaos. What caught my attention in our verses for the day is where the tabernacle is in the camp.
The text tells us that the Israelites were to camp ‘some distance from the tabernacle’. The chapter goes on to describe each set of tribes camping in all four directions out from the tabernacle. This means that the tabernacle was in the center of the camp of Israel. We are also told that the tribe of Levi was set up all around the tabernacle to serve as a buffer between the tabernacle and the camp of the Israelites. This was done to protect the Israelites from the holiness of God’s presence in the tabernacle. If they approached too close, they could be killed.
From our contemporary perspective that seems odd. When we go to church, we have no fear of getting too close to God’s holiness. We are not afraid that we will be struck dead, because God relates to us differently than He did with the Israelites. But I wonder if we are too casual in our approach to God. Should we have a deeper reverence for God when we seek the spiritual things of God?
There is another thing about the location of the tabernacle that ought to cause us to pause and examine our life. The tabernacle was to be the center of the spiritual life of the nation of Israel. Everything about the life of the people was oriented around the place of worship. As Christians, the closest thing we have to compare to the tabernacle is the church. It is not the same, by a long shot.
As Christians we are not commanded to concentrate our worship in a specific location like the Israelites were. We have the Holy Spirit within us, and we are referred to in the Bible as temples of the Holy Spirit. The question we need to answer is what role involvement in the church should take in our lives. The Israelites were told to keep the place of worship at the center. Is your involvement with the church central to your life or is it somewhere at the edge of your life?
We were created to worship God. Jesus came and established the church. And while the church is the people who call on Christ as their Savior, the local church serves to help keep Christ at the center of our worship. Hebrews tells us not to forsake the gathering of the body because we can so easily allow other things to move into the central place of our lives. Examine your relationship to the local church. Does your involvement reflect your reverence for God? Can others tell that Christ is the center of your life? Jesus, help us to love what You love and keep You at the center of everything we do.
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