When the Altar was anointed, the leaders brought their offerings for its dedication and presented them before the Altar because God had instructed Moses, “Each day one leader is to present his offering for the dedication of the Altar.” Numbers 7:10-11 (MSG)
Sometimes when reading God’s Message, I don’t find the lesson within the text but within the pattern of the text. For twelve straight days a leader brought the same offering for the dedication of the altar. The text dutifully and exhaustively chronicles the exact same thing twelve times in a row. For the reader this is kind of boring repetition. For me, the lesson is not within all of the offerings, but in asking myself why it was chronicled this way.
Each of the leaders was required to complete the same offering. There was no pass for family standing or the number of shekels they’d donated to the building of the tabernacle. The same thing was required of each person. In the same way, Jesus did not offer a free pass to anyone. If any one wants to follow, Jesus said, they must deny themselves, take up their own cross, and follow. No exceptions.
There is also something powerful in repetition. Read the story of any athletic champion. We see them excel in a few moments on television and hoist the trophy above their heads. It looks so easy and effortless for them. What we don’t see is the disciplined, boring, repetition of training and practice. The amazing ten second highlight on SportCenter is the result of countless hours of lonely practice in the gym and the weight room.
The end of today’s chapter is the powerful presence of God as Moses enters the holy place. But, the power and presence was preceded by twelve days of dutiful, repetitious, obedient, and disciplined offerings by each of the leaders.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. I Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)