Skip to content

Numbers 8:5-14

Living Sacrifices

5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 6 Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. 7 And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean. 8 Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering. 9 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together: 10 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites: 11 And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD. 12 And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites. 13 And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the LORD. 14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.

Most of what remains in this chapter has already been stated, and many have questioned the reason for it. I cannot answer that, but there is always more to be learned from the word of God, and this is no exception. The Lord is now speaking to Moses from between the two cherubims of the ark in the newly erected tabernacle (7:89). If He repeated His instructions concerning the Levites, He certainly wanted Moses and all of Israel to understand what He expected of them.

The first order of business was that the Levites were to be separated from the rest of Israel and cleansed. The manner in which they were to be cleansed was first to sprinkle the water of purification on them. It is not known for certain what this water was. Its literal meaning is "the water of sin." The purpose was to cleanse them from the effects of anything sinful with which they had come into contact. The water might have been specially prepared, but there is no way to determine the method of preparation, or it might have been water taken from the laver in which the priests washed.

Secondly, the Levites had to be completely shaved from head to toe. In the Biblical Illustrator, C. H. Mackintosh wrote, "Here we have, in type, the only Divine principle of cleansing. It is the application of death to nature and all its habits. It is the word of God brought to bear upon the heart and conscience in a living way. Moses, as representing the claims of God, cleanses the Levites according to those claims; and they, being cleansed, are able to bring the sharp razor to bear upon all that was the mere growth of nature, and to wash their garments, which expresses, in typical form, the cleansing of their habits according to the word of God. This was God’s way of meeting all that appertained to Levi’s natural state--the self-will, the fierceness, and the cruelty."

The third step was to wash their clothes and themselves so that they would be a suitable offering to the Lord. To complete the cleansing there would have to be a propitiatory offering. Two young bullocks for the burnt offering and the sin offering along with flour mixed with oil for the meat offering were to be sacrificed.

All the people of Israel were to gather at the front of the tabernacle and the Levites were brought before the assembly. In the presence of the Lord, the congregation was to lay hands on the Levites. Of course, there were far too many people to do this, so it was probably the heads of the families who laid their hands on the Levites as their representatives. The purpose for the laying on of hands was to symbolically substitute the Levites for the firstborn of all the other families.

Aaron then offered the Levites to the Lord so that they would be able to perform the service of the Lord. At that time, the Levites would lay their hands on the heads of the two bullocks, which were then sacrificed for the sin offering and the burnt offering. These offerings made atonement for the sins of the Levites. In The Word Biblical Commentary, Dr Phillip J. Budd wrote, "to make atonement" (cf. v 19). The sense in this context seems to be "to give protection." It is usually believed that the basic meaning of the word is "to cover." Here it speaks of protection from divine wrath.

Thus the Levites were set before the Lord and offered to Him to be His servants. They were not offered by the shedding of their own blood, but by the propitiatory offering of the two bullocks. Instead, they became living sacrifices, separated for God's purpose.

Christians have also been offered to God through the propitiation of Jesus Christ, our burnt offering and sin offering, and presented by Him as His own to the Father. It is with this knowledge that the apostle Paul could write Romans 12:1-2, saying, "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. 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."

Before The Throne:

Are you a living sacrifice? In what sacrificial ways do you serve God? Pray about that. Find out whether or not He would have you do more or perhaps do something different. Be willing to accept His answer and to respond immediately.

For Further Study:

** cleanse them. Exod 19:15; 2Cor 7:1; Jas 4:8;

(v.7) ** Sprinkle. Lev 8:6; Lev 14:7; Isa 52:15; Ezek 36:25; Heb 9:10; ** water. Num 19:9-10, 13, 17-19; Ps 51:7; Heb 9:13; ** let them shave. Lev 14:8-9; ** wash their. Num 19:7-8, 10, 19; Num 31:20; Gen 35:2; Exod 19:10; Lev 15:6, 10-11, 27; Lev 16:28; Ps 51:2; Jer 4:14; Matt 23:25; Matt 23:26; Jas 4:8; 1Pet 3:21; Rev 7:14;

(v.8 ) ** a young. Exod 29:1, 3; Lev 1:3; Lev 8:2; ** his meat. Num 15:8-9; Lev 2:1; ** another. Lev 4:3, 14; Lev 16:3; Isa 53:10; Rom 8:3; 2Cor 5:21;

(v.9) ** thou shalt bring. Exod 29:4-37; Exod 40:12;

(v.10) ** Num 3:45; Lev 1:4; Acts 6:6; Acts 13:2-3; 1Tim 4:14; 1Tim 5:22;

(v.11) ** offer. Num 6:20; Exod 29:24; Lev 7:30; Lev 8:27, 29; ** they may execute. Num 1:49-53; Num 3:5-43;

(v.12) ** Levites. Exod 29:10; Lev 1:4; Lev 8:14; Lev 16:21; ** the one. Num 8:8; Num 6:14, 16; Lev 5:7, 9-10; Lev 8:14, 18; Lev 9:7; Lev 14:19-20, 22; Heb 10:4-10; ** atonement. Lev 1:4; Lev 4:20, 35; Lev 8:34; Lev 16:6, 11, 16-19; Heb 9:22;

(v.13) ** Num 8:21; Num 18:6; Rom 12:1; Rom 15:16;

(v.14) ** separate. Num 6:2; Deut 10:8; Rom 1:1; Gal 1:15; Heb 7:26; ** and the Levites. Num 8:17; Num 3:45; Num 16:9-10; Num 18:6; Mal 3:17;


No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry

Add Comment

Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.

Form options

Submitted comments will be subject to moderation before being displayed.