Here’s what I loved about this chapter: "But Moses did not give any [carts] to the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible." (vs 9) I just love the way that’s worded. They were to carry the holy things on their shoulders.
I think this is a beautiful description of what God is like. And I think it’s what the entire sanctuary system was designed to teach the Israelites. God carries on His shoulders the things He takes responsibility for, the holy things.
Of the three branches of the Levite clan, the Kohathites alone were responsibility for shouldering the weight of the holy things in the sanctuary. All the other sanctuary items were moved via oxen and cart, handled by the Gershonites and Merarites. But when it came to passing out the carts, there were none for the Kohathites. They would literally shoulder the weight of the holy things as they carried the ark of the covenant and all the items used for sacrifices.
This is just like God. He doesn’t leave the "heavy lifting" to anything or anyone else. He shoulders it Himself. As Paul said in Romans 8, "God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all." (vs 3-4, The Message)
When sin became a problem in His universe, God didn’t ignore it. Instead, though He was not to blame for sin, He has personally picked it up and shouldered it, paving the way for our salvation at tremendous cost to Himself. He didn’t demand help. He didn’t give excuses. He just carries it.
What a privilege it would have been to be a Kohathite—to walk in God’s footsteps, as it was. To play a small part in revealing God to the Israelites. To shoulder the holy things. That’s what God does.