Back in the Old Testament, when God first designed the Tabernacle and built it in the wilderness with Israel to dwell among them, there came to be in the heart of the Tabernacle a place called "the most holy place," which contained things like the Ark of the Covenant, covered by the Throne of Mercy. There was also the "holy place," which contained the communal altar, for example. And then, the courtyard, in which the people gathered.
It took three units of Israelites to move the Tabernacle every time the people moved, three sons of Levi who were divided by their ministry unto the Lord and His place. Numbers 7 tells us a little bit about how all this worked, and what happens here is extremely interesting, particularly as we continue to work it through. But let's start where it starts.
The princes of the other eleven tribes in Israel, which were actually twelve once the sons of Joseph were separated into two tribes (in order to maintain twelve after Levi was dedicated to the service of the Lord and would receive no inheritance), each brought to Moses and Aaron an offering - a total of six covered wagons (one per two tribes) and twelve oxen (to pull the wagons). So Moses and Aaron then had the task of dividing the wagons and the oxen among the sons of Levi to be used in their work in service of the Tabernacle.
Gershon received two wagons and four oxen for the carrying of the tent itself and its fabric coverings, all the outer courtyard that made up the gathering place of Israel. Merari received four wagons and eight oxen for the carrying of the bars and boards and posts that held up the tents and dividers that Gershon carried.
And Kohath received nothing.
Kohath had, by far, the heaviest burden of the Tabernacle, carrying all of the holy and most holy things - the things made out of solid bronze and silver and gold. But because these things were the holy and the most holy things, they were not allowed to load them up on oxen like cargo. They were not allowed to pack them up like any other belongings. They were not permitted to let anyone, or anything, else do the heavy lifting. Kohath was required to carry these things on their shoulders.
This was a difficult task, indeed. For it was not just that they should carry these things on their shoulders, but that they must carry these things on their shoulders without also touching them. We have a couple of other stories in the Old Testament about persons who reached out even to steady the holy and the most holy things so that they would not fall and, touching them, were smitten by the Lord and died right there. So hoist these things onto your shoulders by their carrying poles, but do not touch them, for they are holy.
Now, what we're creating here is an understanding of what it means to carry the holy things and the most holy things from one place to another. What we're looking at is the heavy responsibility of being the ones who move the house of the Lord from one place to another. What we need to see is how, while Gershon and Merari were able to yoke their oxen to a cart for their carrying, Kohath become oxen themselves and are yoked with the holy and the most holy things. This is the image that we need to have of this people walking through the wilderness.
And then...stay tuned.