Scripture reading – Numbers 8
We have followed Israel’s journey from Egypt (Exodus), through the wilderness, to a year-long encampment at the base of Mount Sinai. Leviticus chronicled the LORD establishing His Covenant with the children of Israel, and their accepting the terms of that Covenant represented in His Law and Commandments. The Book of Leviticus also established the nature of Israel’s worship and sacrifices, and the design of the Tabernacle, its “holy place” that included the Ark, and other furnishings within and without the sanctuary.
The Book of Numbers was the census record of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Numbers 1-2). Because the firstborn of every Hebrew household was to be dedicated to the LORD, He adopted the tribe of Levi, as a substitute for the firstborn of Israel (Numbers 3:12-13). While Aaron and his sons were to serve the LORD as His priests, the Levites were chosen to assist them with the daily sacrifices, and the care of the Tabernacle during Israel’s journey in the wilderness (Numbers 3-4, 7).
Illuminating the Tabernacle Sanctuary (Numbers 8:1-4)
With the Tabernacle erected, and the instruments dedicated, the LORD commanded Moses to tell Aaron to illuminate the interior of the Tabernacle, lighting the lamps on the “candlestick” (8:2). The lampstand, termed as a “candlestick,” is described in Numbers 8:4 as “of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the Lord had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick” (8:4).
The Levites Ordained, and Consecrated to the Ministry (Numbers 8:5-22)
While Aaron and his sons served the LORD as priests, the tribe of Levi was consecrated to assist them, and serve the people when they came to worship (8:5-26). Because they were to serve as ministers of the people, the Levites were commanded to go through a purification process that included shaving “all their flesh,” washing their clothes, and making themselves ceremonially clean by the priests sprinkling water on them (8:5-7). After the rite of purification, the Levites were to bring two young bulls, one to serve as a meat-offering, and the other a sin-offering (8:8).
Moses then brought the Levites “before the Tabernacle” (8:9), and gathered all the people of Israel, who placed “their hands upon the Levites” (8:10), and identified their serving on their behalf. The Levites placed their hands on the young bulls, and identified with their sacrifice as their substitute (8:9-13).
Thus, before the LORD, and in the sight of all the people, the Levites were separated unto Him (8:13), dedicated to “the service of the Tabernacle” (8:14), and identified by the children of Israel as the replacement for their firstborn (8:16-18).
Numbers 8:19-20 reminds us the task of the Levites was as assistants to Aaron and his sons. Aaron fulfilled the purification rite of the Levites (8:6-8), and they began to assist him and his sons in the daily sacrifices (8:21-22). The age of service for the Levites was between twenty-five and fifty years old (8:23-25).
Though the rite of ceremony for the Levites was outward (8:6-8), the desire of the LORD was that his ministers would be separated from the world, consecrated to Him (8:14), cleansed, and dedicated to serving Him (8:15).
Though not perfect, those who serve the LORD, and minister to His people should aspire to a holy standard in life and practice, knowing the LORD requires no less of those who serve Him.
Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith