Devotionals Archive

Daybreak: Numbers 4:1- 49

Dec 17, 2020

“This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things.” (Numbers 4:4)

When you see a company name that includes the words “& Sons” (such as Taylor & Sons Plumbing), you likely assume that the business has been around for more than one generation. If you needed plumbing services, you might consider hiring such a company, since along with the “& Sons” comes an expectation of more experience than a younger company. This company has some history. It has tradition behind it.

I visualize the sons of such a company having grown up around the business. They might have been out there helping dad — learning aspects of the trade very early on. No doubt their father would tell them of his personal experiences and thus pass on to them what he has learned.

The implied advantage in using a business with a family tradition is that the younger ones can learn from what the older ones have been through. This business has been an ongoing part of their life and heritage and likely each subsequent generation would continue to benefit from their history.

This concept was likely the case in the assignments discussed in this chapter of Numbers. The families that descended from Levi were assigned particular roles in the camp of Israel — all relating to the care and service in the Tabernacle. They had the opportunity to pass on to their sons the experiences related to the responsibilities assigned to them. Thus, this family from the tribe of Levi had quite a heritage and a rich family tradition.

As Christians, we also have a rich and wonderful heritage. Whether or not our parents or grandparents were believers, the Christians before us in the family of God have provided us with examples of wisdom that definitely help us in our Christian walk. We can learn by paying close attention to what these individuals pass on to us.

The inclusion of “& Sons” in a company’s name or being the member of a particular tribe was not a guarantee of more experience. It merely indicated that the opportunity for experience existed! Whether or not advantage of the opportunity was taken was a personal choice. The same is true related to a Christian heritage. Let us ask God to help us to benefit by the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before us!


When the Israelites left Egypt, they still observed the ancient manner of worship, with the eldest son of each house inheriting the priest’s office. At Sinai the first change in this ancient practice was made. A hereditary priesthood in the family of Aaron was instituted (Exodus 28:1).

It was not until that terrible scene in connection with the sin of the golden calf, however, that the tribe of Levi stood apart and began to occupy a distinct position. The religious heritage was then conferred on this tribe, which henceforth was devoted to the service of the sanctuary.

Levi had three sons: Kohath, Gershon, and Merari. Moses and Aaron were descendants of Kohath. Aaron was established as the first high priest, and only the sons of Aaron were allowed to minister at the altar.

At this point, the remaining Levites (identified by clans as the Kohathites, Merarites, and Gershonites) had other specific responsibilities concerning the Tabernacle assigned to them, and these duties are outlined in Leviticus 3 and 4. They were selected for this purpose because of their zeal for the glory of God, and as the tribe to which Moses and Aaron belonged, they would naturally stand by the lawgiver in his work.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)

I.   The preparation for the journey from Sinai
     B.   The census, arrangement, and duties of the Levites
           6.   The service of the Levites (4:1-45)
                 a.   The Kohathites (4:1-20)
                        (1)   Their census (4:1-3)
                        (2)   Their work (4:4-20)
                 b.   The Gershonites (4:21-28)
                        (1)   Their census (4:21-23)
                        (2)   Their work (4:24-28)
                 c.   The Merarites (4:29-33)
                        (1)   Their census (4:29-30)
                        (2)   Their work (4:31-33)
                 d.   The numbers for service (4:34-45)
                        (1)   Of the Kohathites (4:34-37)
                        (2)   Of the Gershonites (4:38-41)
                        (3)   Of the Merarites (4:42-45)
           7.   Summary (4:46-49)

A Closer Look

  1. What type of animal skin was used for a covering for the Tabernacle?
  2. Why were the descendents of Levi selected to work in the Tabernacle and assist the priests? 
  3. For what reasons might the age requirements for service (30 to 50 years) have been established? 
  4. What services could you and your family do together for the Lord?


Just as the Levites had a heritage of Tabernacle service that spanned many generations, we Christians also have a long, rich heritage that we can follow. Unless we choose to take advantage of the examples left for us, however, we cannot receive the benefits!

Reference Materials