The numbering of the children of Israel continues in today’s Scripture reading, with Numbers 3 giving us the census that was taken of the Tribe of Levi. The Levites were not numbered in the earlier census, which concentrated on counting the number of “able-bodied,” men of war in Israel twenty years and older. The census of the Levites was one that focused on “every male from a month old and upward” (3:15).
Because Moses and Aaron were Levites, the focus of the first verses is upon them: “1These also are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the Lord spake with Moses in mount Sinai” (3:1). We are reminded that Aaron was the father of four sons, all who had been anointed and consecrated for serving as priests (3:2-3). Soon after they became priests, Nadab and Abihu, disobeyed the LORD, and offered “strange fire before the Lord” (3:4) and died. Sealing the fate of their lasting judgment was that “they had no children” (3:4). The service of the priesthood was his surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar,” who “ministered in the priests office in the sight of Aaron their father” (3:4).
The Tribe of Levi had been adopted by the LORD to serve Him, in the place of the firstborn sons of the other tribes (3:11-13). It was their duty to serve the LORD, and minister to Aaron, and his sons as they carried out their charge as priests (3:6-9). We are reminded that no “stranger,” only Aaron and his sons were to approach the LORD by entering into His sanctuary (3:10).
Numbers 3:14-39 gives us an accounting of the census, and the assignments of the Levite families to the four sides of the Tabernacle where they were to encamp. The Gershonites were charged with the coverings of the Tabernacle, the curtain that was its door, and were to encamp on west side of the Tabernacle (3:18-26)The Kohathlites, were to encamp on the south side of the Tabernacle, and were charged with the Ark, the table, the candlestick, the altars, and vessels of the sanctuary (3:27-32). The Merarites encamped on the north side of the Tabernacle, and were charged with the boards of the Tabernacle, and the bolts, sockets, plugs, and cords (3:33-37).
Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons were to encamp on the east side of the Tabernacle, at the entrance to the Tabernacle compound. They were charged with the worship and sacrifices, and responsible to see that no “stranger” would come near the sanctuary (3:38-39).
With the census complete, the number of Levite males that were one month old and upward was 22,000 (3:40-43). The number of firstborn males in the other tribes totaled 22,273 males. Because the LORD had adopted the tribe of Levi, in the place of the firstborn males of the other tribes, the difference of 273 was compensated by fathers in Israel paying a ransom, a payment for their firstborn sons (3:46-50). The ransom, or redemption money, was given to Aaron and to his sons for the expenses of the Tabernacle (3:51).
I realize it would be easy to dismiss the details in Numbers 3; however, there is, a lesson found here. Consider the organization, and specificity of details that God outlined for His people to follow in the Tabernacle and its worship.
While the Twelve Tribes supported the Tabernacle with their sacrifices, the priests and their families were dependent on their faithfulness to give. I fear there are many ministries, and pastors, who struggle financially because believers are failing to give what the LORD requires.
What about you? Have you purposed to give the LORD His part? Remember, He demands our best!
2 Corinthians 9:7 – “7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith