“When Aharon and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy utensils, when the camp is about to move forward, then the descendants of K’hat are to come and carry them. But they are not to touch the holy things, so that they won’t die. These things are the responsibility of the descendants of K’hat in the tent of meeting.”-Numbers 4:15
From verse 4 of Numbers 4, we are given clear instructions on how the descendants of the Kohathites are to serve in the Sanctuary and deal with the especially HOLY things.
We can see from the precise instructions being given how carefully God’s HOLINESS must be guarded and how those who are not authorized to come into direct contact with God’s HOLINESS must be protected.
The following are some of the preparations Aaron and his sons (the priests) must undertake BEFORE the Kohathites begin to transport the HOLY objects.
-The inner veil of the Sanctuary was taken down and then used to wrap the Ark of the Covenant. However, that was just the first wrapping. A second waterproof wrapping was added and then on top of that a third wrapping of pure blue cloth was added. Finally, poles were inserted into the rings attached to the four corners of the Ark so it could be transported without touching it.
-The Table of Showbread was covered with a blue cloth and then the ritual instruments along with a fresh batch of 12 loaves of bread were placed on top of it. All of this was covered up with a red (crimson-colored) cloth and on the very top a waterproof covering of porpoise skins was placed on top of everything. The Table of Showbread also had rings attached to its four corners so that poles could be inserted into it for easy transport MINUS touching it.
-The Menorah and its accompanying instruments were also wrapped in a blue cloth followed by a waterproof layer of porpoise skins. The whole package was placed on top of a wooden frame for easy transport.
-The Golden Altar of incense was also wrapped in a blue cloth and and a waterproof layer of porpoise skins followed by all the remaining instruments that were used for service INSIDE the Tabernacle. Pretty much everything was wrapped in a blue cloth and waterproof dolphin skins!!!
Keep in mind that all of the above preparations are for the items used INSIDE the Tent of Meeting.
Afterwards, we are given instructions on the preparations for the things OUTSIDE the Tent of Meeting starting with the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offerings.
As with the things inside the Tent of Meeting, the same procedural principles apply.
The burnt ashes are removed from the Altar and this time it is covered by a purple rather than blue cloth followed by the usual porpoise skin waterproof covering.
The same goes for all the tools (blood basins, fire tongs etc.) used to care for the Brazen Altar.
Finally, finally, finally AFTER all of this painstaking work is done, everything is given to the Kohathites who will be carrying the most HOLY items in such a way as to NEVER touch them.
Now what’s absolutely fascinating is that even though the Ark of the Covenant was covered by no less than three layers of coverings (including one thick waterproof covering), the Kohathites are still prohibited from touching it less they die.
Actually, none of the HOLY items (including even their coverings) were NOT to be touched!
In fact, we have one incident when the Ark was being carried and was about to fall over.
When one of the carriers reached out to steady it, he was instantly killed!
“When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.”-2 Samuel 6:6-7
Such is the danger of tampering with God’s HOLINESS!!!