You know that moment when you open a terrible gift and you gotta control your facial expression? And your voice gets high and you’re all like “Thaaaaanks” and you’re fake smiling but you’re hoping your acting is good enough to fool the gift-giver?
Yeah. Fun times.
You feel so bad because you know you should just be grateful you got a gift at all – but some gifts are just really bad. Like, what were they thinking bad.
You know who doesn’t give bad gifts?
After last week’s reiteration of something everyone should have known (see Numbers 17), it is settled. The Levites are God’s priests. And to commemorate the occasion, God reminds His priests of what’s expected of them. He talks about the services and tabernacle chores they’re responsible for. He explains how they will get their meals from the leftovers from the sacrifices and offerings made at the tabernacle.
And, like, to be honest?
It doesn’t sound that great.
But God disagrees. He tells them that “I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift” (verse 7).
A gift? Really?
I mean, it’s a ton of work, they’re eating offerings, and when the Israelites finally make it to the Promised Land, they’ll be the only ones without a plot of land for inheritance (verses 20, 24). And on top of all that, they still have to pay tithes and offering (verse 26).
What was God thinking?
I mean, yeah, things could have been worse. Remember how the Levites are descended from, well, Levi? The son of Jacob did a lot, and I mean a lot, of terrible things, and God through Jacob cursed his offspring, even specifically saying that they will be “scattered” (see Genesis 49).
As curses go, serving God as priests is a pretty good one.
But still. A gift?
When I think of a gift I think of something that will serve me, make me feel good, make me look good, or save my time.
Service is totally different. It’s my gift to someone else, not God’s or anyone else’s gift to me!
Or is it?
No one likes work or struggle or hardship, but God gives those things to us all the time.
And they aren’t all bad. Physical work makes us stronger and healthier. Service forces us to get out of our own heads and care for someone else’s needs. Even life’s struggles teach us how to trust God and solve problems with His guidance.
It’s almost like God’s idea of gifts is totally different from ours.
It’s almost like God’s goal is not to make us comfortable, but to make us holy.
And I don’t need to tell you that we’re the complete opposite of holy. Just look around. Turn on the news. Look at your social media feed – you only need to see the first post.
How are we going to trust God but through difficulties? How are we going to become selfless but through service? How are we going to obey God but through consequences? How are we going to become holy but through the gifts of God?
And God, knowing this, would rather allow us to suffer temporarily than watch us die eternally.
That’s real love.
That’s the gift we didn’t know we needed.
“I am the greatest Gift you will ever receive.”
In verse 20, after rubbing it in that the Levites wouldn’t get an inheritance, God flips the script.
He says “I am your inheritance.”
He is our Gift.
Forget clothes and gift cards! Forget cars and video games!
The Creator of the universe is our gift. The most powerful, most generous, most wise Being in the universe has given Himself to us. There’s literally nothing we could want. There’s nothing that would make us happy that He can’t give to us.
That’s it. We’re set. We’re good. Cancel Christmas.
But what do you and me – poor, unholy, sick, and sinful – have to give Him in exchange?
What do you give the Man who made everything?
You give Him you. Your heart. Your love.
It’s what He came here for. To Him it’s worth everything.
What do you think? What gifts has God given you? Comment below and share!