Chapter six begins the genealogy of the Levites. It’s right in the middle of all the genealogies. The book of Numbers describes the arrangement of the tribes around the tabernacle as Israel camped in the wilderness.  At the center of the camp was the sacred tabernacle, representing the presence of God, and the tribe of Levi surrounded it. Thus, just as the physical arrangement of the Levites at the center of the camp surrounding  the presence of God, so too does this genealogical list with Levi in the middle focus attention at God in the center of it all.

In every way, God must be central. It’s not only true that God must be central in the life of each individual believer, but notice that the principle presented here is that God must be the center of our corporate and communal lives. There is an emphasis today that rejects organized religion with expressions like, “I believe in God and Jesus, but I don’t believe in the church.” Or “I can worship in nature better than I can in a church building surrounded by hypocrites.” I’m sure you’ve heard people say that they don’t need organized religion to worship God.

I like how Ogilvie answers this. He rightly observes, “For the Chronicler there was necessarily a communal side to putting God at the center of human affairs. Personal faith is essential, but it must find communal expression, if it is to be true to the Bible.” This is the main lesson from the centrality of God in the community of Israel. Ogilvie continues, “There is a dimension of Christian experience which is lacking for those who worship solely in front of a television set or in private devotions.”

It broke the Psalmist heart when he was prevented from worshipping God in the corporate setting and he longed to join with others in “the house of the Lord” to sing His praises.  Further, John Wesley applied this truth to us when he said, “The New Testament knows nothing of a solitary religion.”

The writer of Hebrews tells us not to “forsake the gathering of ourselves together” like others do.

“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)