Levi was the founding father of the Levite tribe. Levi had three sons, and for centuries their descendants were careful to keep track of which son of Levi they descended from: Kohath, Gershon, or Merari. If you’re not from a family that focuses on lineage, all this fuss over who your daddy was might seem ridiculous. But we must remember that this is God’s world and He directs all the activities in it. By inspiring the Israelites hyper-focus on bloodlines, He ended up having a nation that was composed of many well-defined groups. God used the convenience of these groups for His personal agenda. Consider how easy it was for God to set apart the tribe of Levi as His own. If no one had been keeping family records, this wouldn’t have been possible to do. And because the descendants of Levi were so careful to keep track of which son of Levite they descended from, God could very easily divide up the work He wanted them to do into three neat sections. So often what we think is a good idea is really God inspiring us to do something that benefits Him. When you’re trying to create a portable temple in a barren land, a lot of curtains are required. Where there are curtains, there is hardware to hold them up. Breaking down and setting up the Holy Tent, the Meeting Tent, and the entire altar sacrificing area was no quick task. Today we can buy tents that spring open with one press of a button or mattresses that automatically inflate and deflate. Back then, they had to do things the long hard way. Complicating the task was the fact that God was supersensitive about His special things. This was not the kind of work one could perform carelessly or with a bad attitude. Holy eyes kept a close watch over the entire process and God was very clear that He would instantly strike down anyone who dared to violate His precise instructions.
Aaron and his two sons were the only ones allowed to enter the Holy Tent or Tabernacle and make visual contact with the items inside. When it was time to breakdown, they had to go in and cover all the sacred articles before the Kohathites could come in and haul them all away. If Aaron did a slack job and a Kohathite got a peek at one of the holy things, God would strike him dead.
“Don’t let the Kohathites be cut off from the Levites,” God warns Moses and Aaron in Numbers 4:18. In other words, “Don’t be slack in your duty—make sure everything is covered right.”(Num. 4:18)
While the Kohathites carried the sacred objects, the Gershonites were on curtain duty and the Merarites specialized in drapery hardware. God gave each group very specific orders and only men between the ages of 30 and 50 were eligible to do the work. At that time, there were 8,580 eligible workers in the Levite clan.
One of the keys to serving God well is to focus on the task He has given you and not get stuck comparing your instructions with someone else. It would be easy for the Merarites to decide they were tired of hassling with curtains and wish they could do the hardware for a change. Or maybe everyone was jealous of the Kohathites who were chosen to carry the most sacred objects. As long as we’re busy looking around and complaining, we’re doing a lousy job for God, which is why Satan tries so hard to get our eyes focused on other people. Comparison is like window-shopping: it always breeds feelings of discontentment and envy over something we don’t have.
If you’re currently feeling jealous over some other Christian’s ministry—wishing that God had chosen you instead of them to carry out that particular work, ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the value of obeying Him in the work He has given you. Maybe you don’t have any particular assignment right now and Satan’s trying to convince you that you’ve been overlooked and forgotten by God. Of course this is never going to be true. God wants each of us to focus just on Him and desire to please Him by staying aligned with His Spirit. We do this by listening for specific leading from God and obeying any convictions He gives us. In the absence of any clear leading, we want to be cheerful waiters, submitting to the Spirit’s agenda and refusing to rush out ahead of Him simply so that we can feel productive. It doesn’t matter what specific thing we’re doing for God—what matters is our heart attitude. The most productive looking ministry can be totally repulsive to God if it’s being driven by arrogance and human logic instead of hearts that are focused on honoring Him. The pew-warming slacker who is doing nothing for the kingdom that we humans can see could be bringing God reams of glory in the spiritual realm by his reverent heart and strict obedience to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to wait. We cannot judge because we cannot see into another man’s soul. Nor do we need to, for all that matters is our own service to God.