MAINTAINING THE LORD’S TESTIMONY
Numbers 4:3 says, “From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the military service, to do the work in the tent of meeting” (Heb.). When the tabernacle was set up, those in this age group maintained it. When the children of Israel were traveling, those in this group also carried the various parts of the tabernacle and its utensils. Hence, those between the ages of twenty and thirty were the fighting ones, and those between the ages of thirty and fifty were the ones to maintain and carry the tabernacle.
Applying this type to today’s situation, we see that the young people are on the frontier fighting, but the older ones are at home maintaining the testimony. Maintaining the Lord’s testimony is more important than fighting. If there is no testimony, the young people are fighting in vain. Therefore, let us rise up and keep the testimony. Then the warfare in which the young people are engaged will be meaningful. The testimony today is the church. The middle-aged brothers and sisters must be those who set up the testimony, maintain it, and carry it from place to place. What a responsibility this is!
THE NEED FOR AN APPRENTICESHIP
Numbers 8:24 mentions those who were twenty-five years of age. This was the age one began his apprenticeship, not for fighting, but for serving in the tabernacle. Probably no apprenticeship was necessary for fighting; however, in order to learn how to minister in the tabernacle, it was necessary to pass an apprenticeship of several years in length. A great deal of learning was necessary for this ministry. The years of apprenticeship were necessary and practical. Every aspect of the service in the tabernacle had to be exact; no mistakes were tolerated. Therefore, those who served in and around the tabernacle had to be thoroughly trained to do things accurately. After a Levite had completed his five-year apprenticeship, he was qualified, at the age of thirty, to serve in the tabernacle.
THE USEFULNESS OF THE YOUNGEST ONES
Numbers 3:28 strangely mentions the male Levites “from a month old and upward,” indicating that they also were to keep the charge of the sanctuary. This verse reveals that even a very young one is useful in keeping the charge of the tabernacle. A baby a month old is, of course, not able to fight. However, he can help to keep the testimony.
Concerning the service or ministry in the tabernacle, there are in the book of Numbers three age groups: those between thirty and fifty, who were fully qualified to serve; those between twenty-five and thirty, who were engaged in an apprenticeship of five years to learn how to minister in the tabernacle; and those a month old and upward, who could keep the charge of the tabernacle. A baby a month old may not seem to be able to do anything, but he is a help for keeping the tabernacle. If a thousand little children were to surround our meeting hall, they would certainly be helping to keep it.
The service in Numbers is a picture of the church service. The church service does not depend mainly on the young people. For the service of the tabernacle, we need the little ones, from one month to twenty years of age; the apprentices, aged twenty-five to thirty; and those between the ages of thirty and fifty, who are fully qualified to serve. We need many more infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers, and those in elementary, junior high and high school. We need a great many more in this age group to surround the tabernacle.
You may think that such young ones are useless for God’s testimony, but God’s economy is different from our natural concept. According to Numbers 3, God would use even the infants to protect His testimony. We need to follow God’s strategy. This means that we need more young ones from one month to twenty years of age and we need enough older ones to take care of them. The churches in the Lord’s recovery need to become normal in this matter.
(All Ages for the Lord's Testimony, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)