Tweets and Levites

By: Paul J. Morrison

It seems to me that no matter how many times I read through the Bible, I am constantly struck by something that feels as if I am reading it for the very first time. I have used the same devotional reading plan for about five years now. It takes me through the entire Bible in a single year, but breaks up the reading so that I read a portion of the Old Testament, a portion of the New Testament, and a few verses from Psalms and Proverbs each day. 

I have found this to be incredibly refreshing for my heart and my mind, and it even comes in the convenience of an app on my phone. Each morning after the dogs and fish have been fed, after a short work-out if I found the motivation, after a shower (which I find with or without motivation), I sit down in our living room with a hot cup of coffee and click open my Bible. 

When I am struck by a reminder I needed in a Psalm or by a verse that I have apparently glossed over for years, I press my finger to the screen, copy the verse, open Twitter, and post. I share what strikes me for a host of reasons. 

Partly, I hope that the words that encourage me would have the same effect on another who stumbles across it in their feed among the vitriolic opinions, humor, and wisdom that are mangled into this single platform. Partly, I do it as a bookmark in my own mind of the truth of God’s word. And partly, I often admittedly fall off regular use of the app and find this to be an effective accountability tool in my posting, as well as my devotion. 

I know Twitter holds no inherent value to my life. I know I do not have a large following. Nevertheless, that little blue square frequently becomes a part of my devotional time. 

Even now, though it has been a week since I read it, I open my Twitter to find the verse that prompted this post. As I scroll down my most recent tweets, past a few verses, a few articles, and a joke or two, I find it again. The bookmark of my devotional. 2/11/19:

“then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.’ And all the sons of Levi gathered around him.” Exodus 32:26 

The Levites’ role was established because they took idolatry as seriously as God does.”

I am not sure how many times I have read that verse. I paused. I had to. I suppose I had just taken it as a given that the sons of Levi were the priests in Israel. I had a pretty good grasp on the various tribes I thought, those pieces of trivia or remnants of Old Testament survey courses lodged in my mind. 

I knew the twelve were the sons of Israel. I knew that Joseph’s portion was divided between his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. I could even generally remember where each tribe’s portion of land lay, and likely over-confident that I could label them on a map. 

I knew the Levites were priests. They held no land, save their places in cities of refuge. They were responsible for the sacrificial system laid out in Leviticus. I knew all of this. But I can’t say that I knew why. Then I read it. Moses has come down from Sinai. Aaron has bent to the people and fashioned the calf. The Lord is ready to annihilate. 

Instead, Moses pleads with the Lord that he spare them, lest the Egyptians look at the Lord poorly. The Lord relents and Moses calls the faithful to him, a call answered by the Levites alone. The kinsmen of Moses and Aaron apparently side with Moses, and more importantly, with the Lord. We aren’t told if they spoke out when Aaron was first collecting the gold or fashioning the calf. That doesn’t seem to be the point. 

They answer the call by not only crossing that line in the sand but then at the word of God by Moses, picking up their swords and passing through the camp, from gate to gate, killing three thousand who had crossed between the part waters with them. “Afterward Moses said, ‘Today you have been dedicated to the Lord, since each man went against his son and his brother. Therefore you have brought a blessing on yourselves today’” (Exodus 32:29). 

There it was. The Levite’s ordination for the next millennia established in a moment. Moses didn’t appoint the Levites to the task, he simply asked, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” 

This question is one I think we are asked more frequently than we might consider. It comes before our idolatry as well as after it. It comes each time we are faced with an opportunity to faithfully step forward or to remain comfortably set in our preferences. In one sense, it is a question we only need to answer once for the sake of our salvation. In another sense, it is one we must answer daily for the sake of our holiness and growth. 

The speed and extent with which we answer the question in our growth and faithfulness is a litmus test of our hearts. It comes in life altering decisions and the smallest steps of obedience. It may even come in the shortest declaration of a tweet as a bookmark in my soul.

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