Both times that God told the Israelites to count their numbers, one of the tribes was excluded from the count: the tribe of Levi.
This is the record of the Levites who were counted according to their clans: The Gershonite clan, named after their ancestor Gershon. The Kohathite clan, named after their ancestor Kohath. The Merarite clan, named after their ancestor Merari. The Libnites, the Hebronites, the Mahlites, the Mushites, and the Korahites were all subclans of the Levites. Now Kohath was the ancestor of Amram, and Amram's wife was named Jochebed. She also was a descendant of Levi, born among the Levites in the land of Egypt. Amram and Jochebed became the parents of Aaron, Moses, and their sister, Miriam. To Aaron were born Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died when they burned before the LORD the wrong kind of fire, different than He had commanded. The men from the Levite clans who were one month old or older numbered 23,000. But the Levites were not included in the registration of the rest of the people of Israel because they were not given an allotment of land when it was divided among the Israelites. (Numbers 26:57-62 NLT)
The Levites were counted, but for a different reason. They didn’t count the Levites who were 20 years old or older. That’s because they were not going to war. Instead, they would be set-apart for God’s work with the tabernacle and with the animal sacrifices. They were doing God’s work to remind everyone in Israel what it meant to walk together with God.
They kept the Ark of the Covenant along with the terms of the covenant: the Ten Commandments. They were the keepers of the Law. They cared for the tabernacle of God and they performed all the duties involved with animal sacrifices and other offerings to God. Levites had a sub-group from the line of Aaron who functioned as the priests. All of these responsibilities were given to them so they would remind everyone in Israel to stay faithful to God. Their inheritance was not land, but the responsibility of doing God’s work. God sustained them through the tithes and offerings of the other eleven tribes.
How about you? Do you remember God’s design for our lives? Do you have people who remind you? Do you have a church home where you recalibrate, refocus, and remind yourself what it means to walk together with God? Do you support that church?