According to the commandment of the LORD through Moses they were listed, each one with his task of serving or carrying. Thus they were listed by him, as the LORD commanded Moses.
This unique census of the three major clans of families among the Levites was meant to establish roles and responsibilities for those who would minister to Israel’s camp at the tabernacle. These were men who would work hard in the worship of the Lord and in obedience to His commands. Over 8500 of them were recruited from this census to assist in the daily activities of sacrifice and worship.
The text breaks down their duties into two main divisions of their ministry: serving or carrying. Serving meant just that. They assisted the priests in the physical tasks at the sacrificial altar. They made sure all the needed implements and essentials of the worship of God were available at the tabernacle. They were also charged with the proper “set-up” and “tear-down” of the tabernacle during those times when the camp of Israel was on the move. Both of these main tasks required muscle, co-ordination, and willing service. I imagine some burly guys who could get their hands dirty without crying about it.
Really, worship is not glamorous. We have turned it into a light show with artists and rock stars. But the Kohathites show us something better. Worship is sometimes simply about getting a job done for the glory of God. It requires hard work, sweat, and the biggest need at the moment is a task that requires a sacrifice of time and effort. Every church needs Kohathites! The ministry of the gospel is carried by those willing to serve unseen and to be rewarded by the motivation that God is pleased with their hard work.
A life of worship will realize that worship has very little to do with singing on a Sunday, taking notes during a sermon, or clapping or raising hands in an emotional chorus with the congregation. These may be good as part of the bigger picture of worship. But worship is different. It is about a life that will carry what God says to pick up and carry and that will serve where God says He wants us to serve. Worship is obedient work for the glory of God.