Are We Supposed to Reach Thirty?

Shelah was 30 when he had his son Eber. Eber’s grandson Peleg was 30 when he became a father to his son Reu. Reu’s grandson Serug was 30 when he became a father with Nahor.

Joseph was 30 when he went out from Pharoah and started to rule in Eqypt, but it was quite a journey. First, he had to be a favorite son, which led to him becoming a thorn in the side of his jealous brothers who sold into slavery. Then he was appointed over Potipher’s house, falsely accused of rape by Potipher’s wife, imprisoned and forgotten. Finally, at age 30 he entered Pharoah’s service.

The book of Numbers repeats the phrase “from thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old” when describing the upper and lower age limits of service to the temple.  The first three times the phrase is used, the responsibilities to each group of priests (Kohathites, Gershonites, and sons of Merari) is described in detail. Ihave a study on that which examines the parallels to harvest groups here. Notably, the verses addressing the responsibilities of the Kohathites gets a little extra weight.

Num 4:18-20

"Let not the tribe of the families of the Ko'hathites be destroyed from among the Levites;

but deal thus with them, that they may live and not die when they come near to the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in and appoint them each to his task and to his burden,

but they shall not go in to look upon the holy things even for a moment, lest they die."

As I shared in my previous study, the name Kohath translates to “obedience, congregation.” The Kohathites are the only group that reports to Eleazar, which is a name often used to point us to the Holy Spirit. So, not only is the Holy Spirit involved, but the group is given a special verse that they never be cut off from the tribe of Levi.

The next three times the phrase is used provide the total number of priests in each group, and the final time we are provided with a total of 8,580 priests. That’s a total of seven mentions that one has to be 30 to qualify for priestly service.

Saul was born of the tribe of Benjamin and anointed king, beginning his reign at age 30.

David was born to Jesse, killed Goliath, and then and at age 30, he began to reign following some pretty intense rivalry with Saul.

Let’s get back to the qualifying age of priestly service.

The 8th time the phrase is used occurs much later in the book of 2 Chronicles, 24:7-31. I realized as I was reading that these verses being the same priestly service that I spoke about in my blog post regarding Jesus’ time of birth. That got my attention, since it’s the third time the subject has come up in as many weeks for me. I looked at the list carefully, noting that Aviyah (Abijah) and Yeshua were the 8th and 9th lots drawn, placing them potentially in the 4th and 5th month of the year.

But what was given in scripture doesn’t match the more modern information I dug out of the internet. At some point, the priestly courses went from 24 distinct services to 12, with a re-set in the middle of the year which brought the priests through a second round of services of the same name. That places the course of Aviyah in the third month and again in the 9th month.

Big surprise that mankind has deviated from God’s plan, right? Well, that shift was probably instrumental in what I was studying about the timing of Jesus’ birth, as the 6 month difference between John and Jesus meant their conception dates and birth dates (admittedly, my speculation) lined up with feast days of the same theme.

And speaking of John the Baptist and Jesus…they were also thirty when they started their ministries. That's no coincidence. When God points to a concept like this in scripture over and over, it means we should pay a little extra attention to what He's telling us.

It's clear scripture is pointing us to the number thirty as a “coming of age” milestone. Does it apply to us? I think so. 

Do the lives of the ancients whose leadership roles began at age thirty provide us with clues as to how to reach that milestone ourselves? I think they do.

I don’t know much about the first three men I mentioned, who were pre-Abraham, and the only substantial clue I see in the Word is that Peleg was known to be present at a time of division – centered around the scattering of people and tongues after the Tower of Babel fiasco. Three guys whose lives changed at 30.

The lives of Joseph, Saul, and David have some similarities between them. They were each favorites who fell out of favor. Joseph and David managed to get back into favor. Saul didn’t, but David showed great solidarity, calling Saul God’s “anointed” even after Saul died, falling on his own sword. David and Joseph each died of old age. Three more guys whose lives changed at 30.

Maybe the same can be said of John and Jesus. There was great wonderment at the annunciation of John and eager anticipation to see what the child of a miraculous old-age pregnancy would do. And Jesus, also, was marveled at for his knowledge of scriptures and wisdom when teaching them. Both Jesus and John were persecuted. One could make the argument that those who hated them enough to murder them were also in a rivalry. The marriage of Herod and Herodias was called out by John as unlawful which threatened their throne. Jesus challenged the self-righteousness and exclusivity that kept the Pharisees in power.

But there are only two guys in this third set. Is there a third? Is it us?

Are we, under the priestly order of Melchizedek, meant to reach our “thirty” spiritually? Have we been favored by salvation, only to be persecuted because of our ability to challenge the status quo? These seem like important questions to ponder. I plan to take this in prayer to God to get some insight. I hope you do, as well. If you learn something, don't be too shy to share it here.

Eyes up!