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12/7/16 - Are you a tent peg carrier?

Published: Wednesday, 07 December 2016 Written by Carlton L. Arnold

As part of all their service at the tent, they are to carry the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts and bases, as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, ropes, all their equipment and everything related to their use. Assign to each man the specific things he is to carry.  Numbers 4:31-32

 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  Romans 12:3

There is an understanding that most men are not to change baby diapers or clean up baby throw-up.  Where did that ever come from?  The verses above are clear about what Christians are suppose to do when it comes to what the world would call as “dirty work.”  These verses taught me about what I should do in the world if confronted with the ugly side of the world.  The background of these verses from Numbers is the assignment of tasks required to move the Tabernacle. 

The Hebrews had left Egypt with over two million people.  That’s a lot of personal hygiene that needed to be taken care of.  With so many people, there had to be a solid organizational structure to adequately handle that many people in one place.  For example, the 12 tribes had a leader and were given assignments on when to pack up and the order in which to move to the next location.  In addition, God provided very specific instructions on how to pack the Tabernacle, move it to a new location, and set it up again. 

The Tabernacle is what you may have commonly heard of as the Temple.  The Temple became the permanent home for the Tabernacle in Jerusalem.  In Jewish history, there have been two temples: one built by Solomon but destroyed by the Babylonians and the second temple built by refugees from Babylon.  The second temple is the one that Jesus taught in.  It was destroyed in A.D. 70 by Rome and has never been rebuilt.  Since then, the Muslims have built the Dome of the Rock on the place where the Jews would build their Temple.  It is the third most holy place for Muslims.  This is one of the many controversies between the Jews and the Muslims today.

The Tabernacle was God’s dwelling place with the Hebrew people.  He gave them specific instructions on how to build the Tabernacle and all of its furnishings.  In addition, He gave instructions to certain groups of the Levi family on how to move the Tabernacle.  The group that was to move the structure was called the Merarites.  Specifically, they were to take care of the basic building structure of the Tabernacle.  This even included the tent pegs that were hammered into the ground to provide tension for the structure just like a tent. 

I want you to stop and think about digging up tents pegs, cleaning them, repairing them, replacing them, packing them, and, then, start all over with nailing them into the ground.  Do you think others might have developed a class system with tent peg carriers as the lowest of the low?  NO!  Everyone knew that every part of the tent was necessary and just as important as the group that took care of the altar.  Can you see the attitude these people had toward the Tabernacle – God’s dwelling place?

Similar to the Tabernacle, God dwells within every Christian.  What does that say to you in your relationship with other Christians?  What I understand the Bible to say is, “Be a tent peg carrier.”  You have been assigned by God to take care of the body of Christ.  This care is not just talking to them and praying for them, it includes some dirty work.  When is the last time you cleaned someone’s house because of a devastating incident in that person’s life.  I am speaking to men and women.  Sometimes men just automatically think that is what a woman is supposed to do.  How about things that need to be fixed around the house or things in the yard needing some work?  Who is going to do it?  Well, let’s all wait on someone else to do it, because I’ve got to take care of my own.  This is called putting yourself first and is the opposite of the teachings of Jesus. 

The second verse above is from Romans, and it says not to think of yourself more highly than you should.  When there is work to be done, do it!  God promises that your things will be taken care of based on the faith God has given you.  How can I say this any other way except that the body of Christ today is not taking care of the body of Christ today?  I’m not sure if it is a lack of time (back to priorities of self versus others) or that kind of work is beneath me (thinking of yourself too highly).  Either way, all of us in the body of Christ need to be aggressive in wanting to be a “tent peg carrier” to whoever needs us.

I’ll close with an actual incident.  A family facing the imminent death of one of their loved ones was gathered at her home.  She was very sick from chemotherapy and had thrown-up several times in her room.  She and her family moved to another room due to the stench and mess that happens when someone vomits.  One person who was there was a friend of one of the family members and had stopped by to see how things were going.  Just as soon as she saw the mess of the vomit, she found cleaning supplies and went to work making the lady’s room livable again.  She didn’t wait to be asked; she didn’t excuse herself and leave; and, she didn’t stand around waiting on someone else to clean the room.  Moved by the Holy Spirit, she became a tent peg carrier and did what was necessary for the glory of God. 

I wonder if the tent peg carriers may be more honored in heaven than the priests? I wonder if the woman who cleaned up the awful mess will be more honored in heaven than the Pastors and Theologians?

The body of Christ needs more people like that, so that the world sees that we care, and that we will take action to demonstrate that caring attitude.  Again, learn to be a tent peg carrier.  Your example may lead others to help you take care of those tent pegs.

(From Life-Changing Verses – Volume 3, Chapter 17) 

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