God appointed the son of Levi to a special ministry to connection with the Tabernacle. When the camp moved, under the direction of God, they carried the vessels, the furniture, the coverings, and the pillars. Read Numbers 3-4.
Theirs was a God-given ministry to be performed in the place where the Lord had chosen to place His name. The tribe of Levi was divided into three and each section was given by God a definite task to perform.
The Kohathites were given charge of the most holy things. The Gershonites were set aside by God to serve and to bear burdens. They bore the curtains and door hangings, the skins, and the instruments used in offering sacrifices. The Merarites carried the boards, the pillars, and the sockets.
As the Levite performed his God-appointed tasks he made available to the Israelites the service of the Tabernacle.
Today as God’s servants minister Christ to the saints of God, he is performing the same service as the Levites did so long ago. 1 Corinthians 12 teaches us that the Holy Spirit has gifted certain men for certain definite work. Ephesians 4 tells us that the Lord has placed these gifted men in the church—evangelists, pastors, teachers—“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
The ability to minister is the gift of the Holy Spirit to man—1 Corinthians 12:11. The gifted man is the gift of the risen Lord to His church—Ephesians 4:8-12.
Preparation for Ministry
Gifted men need exercise of soul before they seek to minister the holy things of God to the people. In Deuteronomy 18:6 we read that the Levite came “with all the desire of his mind,” that is, exercise of soul, unto the place which the Lord had chosen.
It is a principle taught in the Word of God, that exercise of soul and preparation for ministry must precede the delivering of the message.
There are three essentials given by Paul to a young preacher named Timothy. 1 Timothy 4:6.
These essentials according to Paul are:
1. Thorough acquaintance with the subject. “Where unto thou hast attained.” Another version puts it “which thou hast fully followed up.” God expects us to search the Word for information regarding any subject. He has revealed Himself and His truth here a little and there a little. It is important then that we should “follow up” a subject before we attempt to minister it in public.
2. The personal application of the truth. “Nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine.” This implies that the man who teaches truth shall first have experienced that truth in his own life. In other words nourished up in the word which he ministers. How disappointing to hear a man minister truth which he does not practice. In the wilderness manna that was gathered but not eaten “bred worms and stank”—Exodus 16:20. It is important that we first appropriate truth to ourselves before we teach it to others. With such exercise of soul, thorough knowledge and personal application of the truth, the appointed vessel is now ready for the third step.
3. Public ministry. “Put the brethren in remembrance of these things.” Lay these things before the brethren. With his subject mastered and lived the servant may rise in the assembly of saints and minister the Word of God.
When should a brother minister the Word? The answer to this question is found in 1 Peter 4:10-11.
There are four conditions that should be met before one ministers the Word of God.
1. He should have a gift. “As every man hath received a gift so let him minister the same.” When God calls a man for any type of work, He fits him for that work. He gives him a gift.
2. He should have a message from God. “If any man speak let him speak as the oracle of God.” The message must be from God, and based on Scripture.
3. He should minister in dependence upon God. “If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth.” The servant who would attempt to express the mind of God must do it in complete dependence upon God and to the best of his ability.
4. Finally the servant should be able to minister to the glory of God. “That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” A man may have a gift, he may have a message, he may have God-given ability, but he must wait for God’s time to give it. This it will be for the glory of God. What are the tests of a God-given ministry? The tests of a preacher’s ministry are threefold. 1 Corinthians 14:3. The three tests are: (1) Edification, building up, a ministry of instruction to the soul; (2) Exhortation, stirring up, a ministry of stimulation for the conscience; (3) Consolation, binding up, a ministry of encouragement for the heart.