A Freewill Offering
1 And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them; 2 That the princes of Israel, heads of the house of their fathers, who were the princes of the tribes, and were over them that were numbered, offered: 3 And they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle. 4 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 5 Take it of them, that they may be to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; and thou shalt give them unto the Levites, to every man according to his service. 6 And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the Levites. 7 Two wagons and four oxen he gave unto the sons of Gershon, according to their service: 8 And four wagons and eight oxen he gave unto the sons of Merari, according unto their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 9 But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders.
The Israelites were now free from their Egyptian slave owners for one full year, and the tabernacle was erected on the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month. (Exodus 40:17) Each item in the tabernacle was subsequently anointed with oil and sanctified. It was a holy place. (See Leviticus 8:10-11) But this may have taken some time. There are various speculations as to when the actual dedication may have taken place. Some claim that it was on the eighth day of the month, which would have been after the seven days of Aaron and his sons' consecration. (See Exodus 29:35) Others say that it would have had to take place during the second month.
The leaders of each of the twelve tribes, who were over all the men in their tribe who had been numbered as eligible to fight in the war, came forward with their gifts for the dedication of the tabernacle. One covered wagon was given as a gift for each pair of leaders, and each leader also gave one ox. It is important for those who are in the role of leadership to be first in worship and giving. Godly leaders must first be godly men who set the example for others to follow. No one can effectively lead from behind.
God told Moses to accept the offering and to distribute the items among the Levites according to the amount of service that they performed. Moses gave two of the wagons and four oxen to pull them to the Levite family of Gershon. These men were assigned to carry the curtains and the hangings, which were the lightest loads. Whatever would not fit into the wagons needed to be carried by the men.
Moses gave the Merarites, who had the heavier loads to carry, four wagons and eight oxen. They had to carry the boards, pillars and sockets. The silver sockets alone weighed 100 talents, which was roughly equivalent to between 7000 or 8000 pounds. The exact weight has never been determined. Anything that they could not fit into the wagons had to be carried on their shoulders.
Kohathites were not given any covered wagons or oxen, because they were assigned to carry the holist things of the sancuary. Those things were not allowed to be carried on wagons but on the shoulders of those who were assigned to them. When they were carried on a wagon or cart, there was always the chance that they might be dumped over and damaged or touched inappropriately.
The story of Uzza who broke God's law and carried the ark in a cart is a good illustration of the seriousness of trying to do things our own way instead of God's way. "And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God." (1 Chronicles 13:7-10)
Thus, we see that leaders must lead by example and that the servants of God must take the work of God seriously. God gave the wagons to the Levites, because He does not want His people to be overburdened. There are, however, certain things that must remain holy and sacred regardless of the burdens imposed on us. In the New Testament church, we do not carry the tabernacle and the ark of the Lord from place to place. We are His tabernacle. But, we do carry His name and we should never allow it to be cast into the dirt accidentally or otherwise. In observing that responsibility, we must lead by example.
Before The Throne:
Pray that men everywhere would begin to recognize the power, the grace and the holiness of the one true God. As you carry His name and His word with you, pray that you might make disciples for Christ and be an example for them to follow. Pray about your own habits for giving to the Lord. Do you give, because it's a law or because you love to give? Only the later will please Him. He loves a cheerful giver.
For Further Study:
(v.1) ** had fully. Ex 40:17-19; ** anointed it. Exod 30:23-30; Lev 8:10-11; Lev 9:1-24; ** sanctified them. Gen 2:3; Exod 13:2; 1Kgs 8:64; Matt 23:19;
(v.2) ** the princes. Num 1:4-16; Num 2:1-34; Num 10:1-36; ** offered. Exod 35:27; 1Chr 29:6-8; 2Chr 35:8; Ezra 2:68-69; Neh 7:70-72;
(v.5) ** Take it. Exod 25:1-11; Exod 35:4-10; Ps 16:2-3; Isa 42:1-7; Isa 49:1-8; Eph 4:11-13; Tit 3:8;
(v.7) ** Two wagons. Num 3:25-26; Num 4:24-28;
(v.8 ) ** four wagons. Num 3:36-37; Num 4:28-33;
(v.9) ** because. Num 3:31; Num 4:4-16; 2Sam 6:6, 13; 1Chr 15:3, 13; 1Chr 23:26;
The Glory of His Inheritance
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
The second item of divine knowledge
that Paul prayed for the saints to be given is "...the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." There are two possible ways to understand this prayer with really no concrete evidence to support one way over the other. So it is up to each individual to decide for himself.
The first interpretation assumes that Paul is asking for the knowledge of the riches of the glorious inheritance that God has guaranteed to the saints."But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:9-10) These things can only be imagined or understood through the ministry of the Holy Spirit who reveals all things to the saints. This interpretation is said to make sense, because Paul has already introduced the idea of an inheritance for the saints in verses 11 and 14.
The second interpretation takes the passage more literally. It says that it is "his inheritance," not the inheritance of the saints. It says that his inheritance is in or among the saints. While the first interpretation seems to be by far the most popular, I have never been one to be carried along by tradition. I prefer this second version, because it says what it says and means what it means, and we have no reason to interpret it any differently. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes the opposing view and says, I do so for the reason that I am not happy with the idea of God having an inheritance. Truth, however, does not change just because we are not happy with it or cannot deal with it.
The scriptures explain themselves. In the Psalms we read, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance (Psalms 33:12);" and, "For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance." (Psalms 94:14) There are other references made to the Lord's inheritance in Exodus 15:17; 34:9; Psalms 2:8; 74:2; 106:40; Isaiah 47:6; 63:17 and several other places, all of which identify it as His people. I certainly do not want to imply that I know more than the wonderful and scholarly Lloyd-Jones, whose commentary should be read by everyone, but he should not doubt that God does have an inheritance and that it is in His people.
What, then, could Paul mean by "the riches of the glory of His inheritance," if he means that the saints are the inheritance of God? The saints have no riches or anything of value to offer God. I think, therefore, that it must mean the wealth of love that God has for His inheritance, for us. One of the problems that most people have with their theology is that they fail to realize how precious and important the saints are to God.
From the beginning God has always told us how precious His saints are to Him. "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." (Exodus 19:5-6) We are not just special to Him; we are His treasure. This passage is quoted almost verbatim in 1 Peter 2:9 in regard to the N.T. saints.
The saints are the holy and treasured dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and are under the eternal protection of the Almighty God. "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (1 Corinthians 3:17) Furthermore, there is nothing that He would not give you (Romans 8:32) and nothing that can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-39).
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) It is not possible for us to understand the depths of His love for us unless we are enlightened by the Holy Spirit and, unless we understand it, we can never respond to it
Throughout this essay, I have referred to his love for "us," because His love is so personal that I cannot separate myself from the equation when I speak of it. I know it because he has revealed it to me and I experience it every moment of every day. But, He loves you just the same, and I pray that He will use my words to reveal it to you. You are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.
Before The Throne:
Meditate on God's love for you. Maybe you chose to interpret this passage differently from the way that I have done, but you still cannot deny God's love for you. Use your prayer time as a tool to get to know Him better on a personal level. Make a list of all the good things that He has already done for you and then pray about the future, the hope that His love instils in you. Will you respond by making an intentional effort to glorify Him in everything that you do?
For Further Study:
** eyes: Eph 5:8; Psa 119:18; Isa 6:10; 29:10, 18; 32:3; 42:7; Mat 13:15; Luk 24:45; Act 16:14; 26:18; 2Co 4:4, 6; Heb 10:32; ** is: Eph 2:12; 4:4; Rom 5:4, 5; 8:24-25; Gal 5:5; Col 1:5, 23; 1Th 5:8; 2Th 2:16; Tit 2:13; 3:7; 1Pe 1:3; 1Jo 3:1-3; ** his calling: Eph 4:1; Rom 8:28-30; Phi 3:14; Col 3:15; 1Th 2:12; 2Th 1:11; 1Ti 6:12; 1Pe 3:9; 5:10; ** the riches: Eph 3:8, 16;
Called By His Name
22 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, 24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
This is the priestly blessing that was to be pronounced over the people of Israel by Aaron, his sons, and all of the future priests who were descended from them. No man can pronounce an effective blessing upon others unless the Lord is the originator of it. Therefore, the Lord Jehovah gave the priests instructions to bless His people and also gave them the words which they were to say.
The Jewish Rabbins have noticed a mysterious occurrence in this blessing. The name Jehovah is pronounced three times, each with a different accent. Of course, that is no mystery to us, because we have the New Testament to explain that we have one God who consists of three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. His name is Jehovah and He blesses us differently through each person of the Trinity.
These are the words of the blessing: "The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:" God's people are completely dependent and trusting in Him for their keep. He will provide for all of their needs, He will keep them from falling into sin, He will keep them as His own peculiar treasures, and He will keep them safe from the dangers of the world around them. This was dramatically demonstrated as He led Israel through the wilderness, providing for their every need and protecting them from every enemy. This is the loving care of the Father.
"The LORD make his face shine upon thee," Jesus is life, and the life is the light of men. When He shines upon them, their eyes are opened and the greatness of God's love is revealed. "...and be gracious unto thee:" Jesus is also full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) Man has no greater need than to be forgiven for his sins by his gracious and loving God. If the face of the Son shines upon you, a great transformation will take place in the very depths of your soul. There is no more significant blessing than to be the recipient of God's grace, which is the only key to the door of heaven.
"The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee," To lift up one's countenance is to smile. When God lifts His countenance upon His people, he is pleased with them. It has been said that the Jewish people could wish for nothing more than for God's countenance to be lifted up upon them. It means that they are acceptable to Him. When the Holy Spirit performs His miracle of regeneration, the new birth, men come to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. "...and give thee peace." The new birth brings us the fruits of the Spirit among which is peace. The nation of Israel desired it, prayed for it and experienced it in part when they remained obedient to God. But true peace only comes when men are completely acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ and the working of the Spirit.
"And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them." God's people are to be called by His name. All the world should know whom they serve and in whom they trust. How important it is, therefore, for them to be faithful and obedient to Him so as not to bring disgrace on His name.
The Christian church has received the full blessing that was pronounced upon Israel every day after the morning sacrifice. Our sacrifice, however, is not made daily, but only once. The blessing has not only been pronounced once, but has been permanently bestowed. "And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." (Luke 24:50-51) It was the last thing that Jesus did before leaving this earth to sit at the right hand of His Father. Now, we are called by His name.
Before The Throne:
Have you thought very much about how God has blessed you? Too often we pray for this or that, because we are not content with the blessings He has already given us. Take the time right now to meditate on your blessings. Thank Him for the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance with which the Spirit has already blessed you.
For Further Study:
(v.23) ** Gen 14:19-20; Gen 24:60; Gen 27:27-29; Gen 28:3-4; Gen 47:7, 10; Gen 48:20; Lev 9:22-23; Deut 10:8; Deut 21:5; Deut 33:1; Josh 8:33; 1Chr 23:13; Luke 24:50-51; Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:3; 2Cor 13:14; Heb 7:1, 7; Heb 11:20-21; 1Pet 1:2; 2Pet 1:2-3; 2John 1:3;
(v.24) ** The Lord. Ruth 2:4; Ps 134:3; 1Cor 14:16; Eph 6:24; Phil 4:23; Rev 1:4-5; ** keep thee. Ps 91:11; Ps 121:4-7; Isa 27:3; Isa 42:6; John 17:11; Phil 4:7; 1Thess 5:23; 1Pet 1:5; Jude 1:24;
(v.25) ** The Lord. Ps 21:6; Ps 31:16; Ps 67:1; Ps 80:1-3, 7, 19; Ps 119:135; Dan 9:17; ** gracious. Gen 43:29; Exod 33:19; Mal 1:9; John 1:17;
(v.26) ** lift up. Ps 4:6; Ps 42:5; Ps 89:15; Acts 2:28; ** give thee. Ps 29:11; Isa 26:3, 12; Isa 57:19; Mic 5:5; Luke 2:14; John 14:27; John 16:33; John 20:21, 26; Acts 10:36; Rom 5:1; Rom 15:13, 33; Eph 2:14-17; Eph 6:23; Phil 4:7; 2Thess 3:16;
(v.27) ** put my. Exod 3:13-15; Exod 6:3; Exod 34:5-7; Deut 28:10; 2Chr 7:14; Isa 43:7; Jer 14:9; Dan 9:18-19; Matt 28:19; ** and I will. Num 23:20; Gen 12:2-3; Gen 32:26, 29; 1Chr 4:10; Ps 5:12; Ps 67:7; Ps 115:12-13; Eph 1:3;
13 And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: 14 And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings, 15 And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings. 16 And the priest shall bring them before the LORD, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering: 17 And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering. 18 And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings. 19 And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his separation is shaven: 20 And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine. 21 This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of his offering unto the LORD for his separation, beside that that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the law of his separation.
This is the law of the Nazarite when he had finished fulfilling his vow to the Lord. In the days of Moses, there are no examples of anyone being a Nazarite for life. Their vows were made only for a certain period of time determined by the person making the vow; and this was later set to a minimum of thirty days. However, Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist were all Nazarites for life.
Although the Nazarite did everything he could to keep himself separate from the world and consecrated to God, works could not save him; his vow could not earn God's favor; and his obedience to the law could not save him. He still needed to have his sins removed by the shedding of blood at the altar. So, the priest would bring him to the door of the tabernacle along with his offerings.
The first offering mentioned is the burnt offering. The burnt offering or whole offering, as it is frequently called, literally means, "a going up (in smoke)." The burnt offering is the only offering in which the sacrifice was entirely consumed and its smoke is said to have ascended as a sweet smell unto the Lord. It represented the complete surrender to the Lord of the one who offered it and, as were all of the offerings, it was a type of Christ. Therefore, it had to be a lamb without blemish. (See Leviticus 1 for more information about the burnt offerings)
The second offering was a one year old female lamb without blemish. This was offered as a sin offering. The sin offering was made for the atonement of sins that the person did not realize he had made or perhaps had committed impulsively without any willful intent to sin. (For more on the sin offering see Leviticus 4)
The Nazarite then was required to offer a ram without blemish as a peace offering. This was a very special offering that represented a type of communion with God. The fat of the ram was burnt as a sacrifice to God. It represented the inner man's commitment to Him. The remaining meat was divided between the priest and the worshipper. It was often eaten by the priest and the worshipper's family together and was a time for thanksgiving. (See Leviticus 3 for more information on the peace offering.)
The meat offering consisted of cakes of unleavened bread that were baked from flour and oil and wafers of unleavened bread that were anointed with oil. A drink offering was also required. The meat offering was only made after the worshipper had received atonement for his sins by means of the burnt offering. The atonement makes him acceptable to the Lord, and the meat offering represents the subsequent setting aside and commitment of himself and all his possessions to Yahweh. (See Leviticus 2)
Since the Nazarite's uncut hair was the sign of his consecration and his vow had now been fulfilled, he would shave his head at the door of the tabernacle where everyone could see that he had faithfully completed his time. The hair was sacred and belonged to the Lord, so it was burned along with the fat offered in the peace offering.
The wave offering was made by the placing of the shoulder of the Ram from the peace offering and an unleavened cake and wafer upon the hands of the Nazarite. The priest would then wave them horizontally before the altar. "The breast-piece was presented to the Lord as a wave-offering (tenuphah), and transferred by Him to Aaron and his sons (the priests). ...the priest laid the object to be waved upon the hands of the offerer, and then placed his own hands underneath, and moved the hands of the offerer backwards and forwards in a horizontal direction, to indicate by the movement forwards, i.e., in the direction towards the altar, the presentation of the sacrifice, or the symbolical transference of it to God, and by the movement backwards, the reception of it back again, as a present which God handed over to His servants the priests." (Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
After all of this, the Nazarite was once again free to drink wine, to care for deceased relatives etc.. When Jesus Christ said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free," He was referring to the gospel truth that only He could atone for our sins once and forever. We have been set free from the burdens of all these rituals involved in the law, which could never permanently save us from ourselves. Each of those sacrifices represented what Jesus would do for us when He died on the cross and rose again. (For a detailed look at the significance of the sacrifices mentioned here, see my Daily Bible Studies on Leviticus 1-4.)
Before The Throne:
Have you accepted the freedom that is offered to you by Jesus Christ or are you still trying to keep all sorts of religious observances that simply burden you down. Such burdens come in many forms, not just in ritual sacrifices. Pray about that. Confess your inability to earn God's favor on you own merits. Ask Him to set your mind free from religion and to help you focus on the life that is Christ.
For Further Study:
(v.13) ** are fulfilled. Ac 21:26;
(v.14) ** one he. Lev 1:10-13; 1Chr 15:26, 28-29; ** one ewe. Lev 4:2-3, 27, 32; Mal 1:13-14; 1Pet 1:19; ** one ram. Le 3:6;
(v.15) ** a basket. Lev 2:4; Lev 8:2; Lev 9:4; John 6:50-59; ** anointed. Ex 29:2; ** drink. Num 15:5, 7, 10; Isa 62:9; Joel 1:9, 13; Joel 2:14; 1Cor 10:31; 1Cor 11:26;
(v.18) ** shave the head. Num 6:5, 9; Acts 18:18; Acts 21:24, 26; ** and put it. Luke 17:10; Eph 1:6;
(v.19) ** the sodden. Lev 8:31; 1Sam 2:15; ** put them. Exod 29:23-28; Lev 7:30; Lev 8:27;
(v.20) ** the priest shall. Num 5:25; Exod 29:27-28; Lev 9:21; Lev 10:15; Lev 23:11; ** with the wave. Num 18:18; Lev 7:31, 34; ** and after. Ps 16:10-11; Eccl 9:7; Isa 25:6; Isa 35:10; Isa 53:10-12; Zech 9:15, 17; Zech 10:7; Matt 26:29; Mark 14:25; John 17:4-5; John 19:30; 2Tim 4:7-8;
(v.21) ** the law. 5:29; ** beside that. Ezra 2:69; Gal 6:6; Heb 13:16;
The Nazarite Defiled
9 And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it. 10 And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: 11 And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day. 12 And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.
While the Nazarite had no duties to perform in the tabernacle such as the Levites and priests had, he was required to keep himself separate and clean from every type of corruption and sin for the duration of his vow. His focus was on his relationship with God. However there was always the chance that he might be accidentally defiled. This passage gives detailed instructions for the Nazarite to follow, if he were to be inadvertently placed in contact with a dead body.
So, if a man died "very suddenly" in the Nazarite's presence and he became unclean because of it. The words "very suddenly" are translated from two similar Hebrew terms. The first is petha` (peh'-thah) meaning, "a wink, i.e. moment ( adverbially, quickly or unexpectedly)." We might say, "in the blink of an eye." The second word is pith'owm (pith-ome'), meaning, "instantly." There is a strong emphasis, therefore, on the suddenness of the death. It had to be unexpectedly quick or the Nazarite would have otherwise knowingly broken his vow.
When this happened, the Nazarite would be unclean for seven days (Numbers 19:14). The head of his consecration was defiled. The long hair that he had allowed to grow as a sign of his Nazarite vow was now invalid, because he had not remained separated from unclean things. The Keil and Delitzch Commentary says that the hair, "...was the diadem of his God (Num 6:7), the ornament of his condition, which was sanctified to God. " His vow was broken, although it was not his fault. Therefore on the seventh day after the death, when he was once again clean, he would have to shave his head.
The following day, he would bring an offering of either two turtle doves or two young pigeons to the door of the tabernacle and give them to the priest. The priest would sacrifice one of thes for a sin offering and the other fo a burnt offering to make an atonement for his sins. On that same day, he was to "hallow his head" again, ie. he was to consecrate himself to God as before and begin to let his hair grow again.
At that point he began to fulfill his vow again by separating himself to God. The days that he had already served were no longer counted, because he had been defiled, so he would have to serve the full term all over again.
A lamb was then brought to the priest to be sacrificed as a trespass offering (See Leviticus 5 for the law of the trespass offering). This also made an atonement for violating his oath and for being too close to a dead body. The Nazarite could then continue his days of separation and fulfill his oath to the Lord.
Christians are separated unto God just like a Nazarite. We are fortunate, however, that we are no longer under the law but under God's grace. The Lamb of God was sacrificed once for all of our sins, past, present and future. We do not need to shave our heads; Christ is our diadem. We do not need to avoid dead bodies, because only that which comes from within us can defile us; but we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within.
Before The Throne:
Praise the Lord for being the Lamb of God who died for your sins. Pray that you might find the faith and the strength to live a life that is consecrated to God. Ask Him to help you bring every thought and imagination under submission to Christ. Pray that other people will see Christ through your consecrated lifestyle.
For Further Study:
(v.9) ** and he. Num 19:14-19; ** shave. Num 6:18; Acts 18:18; Acts 21:23-24; Phil 3:8-9;
(v.10) ** Lev 1:14; Lev 5:7-10; Lev 9:1-21; Lev 12:6; Lev 14:22-23, 31; Lev 15:14, 29; Rom 4:25; John 2:1-2;
(v.11) ** offer. Lev 5:8-10; Lev 14:31;
(v.12) ** a trespass. Lev 5:6; Lev 14:24; ** but the. Ezek 18:24; Matt 3:15; Matt 24:13; John 8:29-31; Jas 2:10; 2John 1:8; * lost. Heb. fall.
The Nazarite Vow
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: 3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. 4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. 5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. 6 All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head. 8 All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.
The first twenty-one verses of this chapter introduce the law concerning anyone, male or female, who would take the vow of a Nazarite. Verses 22-27 contain the blessing that Aaron was to pronounce over the people of Israel.
The term "Nazarite" means "separated" and, as it is used here, it means "separated unto God." Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary says, "As to the duration of a Nazarite's vow, every one was left at liberty to fix his own time. There is mention made in Scripture of only three who were Nazarites for life, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist (Judg. 13:4, 5; 1 Sam. 1:11; Luke 1:15). In its ordinary form, however, the Nazarite's vow lasted only thirty, and at most one hundred, days."
Those who took the Nazarite vow committed themselves to the Lord's service to the same degree that was expected of the priests. Every Christian is a priest in the kingdom of God, separated and consecrated to His service, and is therefore akin to a Nazarite. It is very appropriate that the Book of Numbers should follow the law for those who had defiled themselves in an adulterous relationship with the law of those who have consecrated themselves to a life of holiness and faithful service.
The first rule for the Nazarite was that he should abstain from any alcoholic beverage and even from eating the fruit from which wine and liquor is made (vv.3-4). John Calvin pointed out that the wickedness and deviousness of men would devise a way to eat the meat of the grapes, perhaps by mixing them with water or by some other means, so as to get the alcoholic content without actually drinking wine. Thus they were told not to eat the fruit of any vine from which wine or liquor could have been made.
Alcoholic beverages have the effect of loosening a person's control over his own thoughts and actions. The more he drinks the less control he will have. Alcohol has been the cause of a downfall into a life of sin for many people. Today, our streets are filled with homeless wretches, many of whom are in that condition due to their addiction to intoxicating substances. There is truly no good argument that can be made for drinking even moderate amounts, especially for those of us who have been separated from the world for God's purpose.
The second rule might seem strange to us moderns. For the duration of their vow, the Nazarite could not cut his or her hair (v.5). John Gill's commentary says, "... two reasons Fagius gives of this part of the law, the one is, because of the mystery of it; letting the hair grow signified an increase of virtue or grace, as Samson's strength was increased and became very great while his hair was not cut; and so spiritual Nazarites, while they are in the way of their duty, grow in grace, and in knowledge of God and Christ, and all divine things, and grow stronger and stronger in the Lord, and in the power of his might; and Ainsworth hints at the same thing, and also supposes it might be an emblem of the subjection of the saints to Christ, as the letting the hair grow was a sign of the woman's subjection to man..." Another reason for this might have been that certain heathen rituals, particularly those of the Egyptians, would have required the shaving of the head, whereas the Nazarite was consecrated to only the one true God.
The third rule was for the Nazarite to refrain from touching any dead bodies. Even if a close relative should die, his father, mother, sister or brother, he was not to touch the body but allow someone else to bury the person (vv.6-7). "He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days." (Numbers 19:11) This would mean that the Nazarite could not keep his vow, as he would no longer be able to worship during that time.
A certain man wanted to follow Jesus but wanted to first go and bury his father, "But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead." (Matthew 8:22) Those who follow Christ are consecrated to Him just as a Nazarite. The spiritually dead can bury the dead. The follower of Christ is no longer dead in his trespasses and sins and should not be involved in dead works.
"... because the consecration of his God is upon his head." Once again, I refer you to John Gill's commentary, which says, "namely, his long hair: the Targum of Jonathan renders it, "the crown of his God"; so Aben Ezra observes, that some say that the word "Nazarite" is derived from "Nezer", a crown, in proof of which this passage is produced; and in this respect the Nazarites were not only types of Christ our King and high priest, who is a priest on his throne, and has on his head many crowns, but of the saints who are freed from the power and dominion of sin, and are made kings and priests unto God."
"All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD." The Nazarite belongs to the Lord. He is separated from all worldly things that would defile him. He has vowed to focus his life, his mind, his time and his labor on God alone. Unfortunately there are many today who call themselves Christians but do not humble themselves and separate themselves from the things of the world that distract them from their first love.
Before The Throne:
Compare yourself to the Nazarite. If you are a born again Christian, God has separated you for Himself. Pray about that. Ask the Lord to show you how to practice holiness in everything that you do. Ask Him to use you for His purpose and to glorify His name through all that you do.
For Further Study:
(v.2) ** When. Exod 33:16; Lev 20:26; Prov 18:1; Rom 1:1; 2Cor 6:16; Gal 1:15: Heb 7:27; ** to vow. Lev 27:2; Judg 13:5; 1Sam 1:28; Amos 2:11-12; Luke 1:15; Acts 21:23-24;
(v.3) ** Lev 10:9; Judg 13:14; Prov 31:4-5; Jer 35:6-8; Amos 2:12; Luke 1:15; Luke 7:33-34; Luke 21:34; Eph 5:18; 1Thess 5:22; 1Tim 5:23;
(v.4) ** separation. or, Nazariteship. Num 6:9, 12, 13, 18-19, 21;
(v.5) ** razor. Judg 13:5; Judg 16:17, 19; 1Sam 1:11; Lam 4:7-8; 1Cor 11:10-15;
(v.6) ** he shall come. Num 19:11-16; Lev 19:28; Jer 16:5-6; Ezek 24:16-18; Matt 8:21-22; Luke 9:59-60; 2Cor 5:16;
(v.7) ** unclean. Num 9:6; Lev 21:1-2, 10-12; Ezek 44:25;
(v.8 ) ** 2Cor 6:17-18;
The Law of Jealousy
11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 12 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man's wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him, 13 And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner; 14 And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled: 15 Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance. 16 And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD: 17 And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water: 18 And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman's head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse: 19 And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse: 20 But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband: 21 Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell; 22 And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen. 23 And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water: 24 And he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse: and the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter. 25 Then the priest shall take the jealousy offering out of the woman's hand, and shall wave the offering before the LORD, and offer it upon the altar: 26 And the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water. 27 And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people. 28 And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed. 29 This is the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside to another instead of her husband, and is defiled; 30 Or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law. 31 Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity.
This long passage of scripture is not so complicated as it is long. It deals with the trial of a woman for adultery when her husband suspects that she has been engaged in an extramarital affair. If the spirit, or emotion, of jealousy comes over him and there is no witness, whether or not she has actually been defiled, he is required to bring her to the priest with an offering that is to be made for her. (vv. 11-15)
The offering was to be the tenth part of an ephah, which was approximately equal to 1.92 quarts, of barley grain. It was not to have oil nor frankincense mixed with it as with other grain offerings. This was a memorial made for sin and should therefore remain coarse and dry.
The woman was then brought before the Lord by the priest, her head was uncovered and her hair was let down. Next the priest would take holy water, presumably the water of the laver from which the priests washed their hands, and place it in an earthen vessel. Dust was taken from the floor of the tabernacle and put into the water.
The offering was placed in the woman's hands while the priest would hold the earthen vessel. The water was called, "the bitter water." The priest would charge the woman to take an oath of a curse. "The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell; 22 And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen." This curse was written down and blotted with the water from the bowl. Then the offering was placed on the altar and burned.
If the woman was an adulteress, when she drank the water it would cause her internal organs to swell and her "thy to rot." It is not clear what that means. Some think that she would not be able to have children and would miscarry, if she was already pregnant. "And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed." (v.28) The Jewish writers also claimed that the man with whom she had been unfaithful would suffer the same swelling and his private parts would rot.
This was the trial of jealousy when there were no witnesses to the adultery and when the woman would not confess. If she was found guilty, she was treated as one who was cursed and would be divorced from her husband. However, when there were two or more witnesses the matter was handled differently. "And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." (Leviticus 20:10)
The marriage relationship is an illustration of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. If two people cannot be faithful to their spouse, who compliments their shortcomings and whom they can see, how can they be faithful to Christ whom they cannot see? We can see by this passage and by others in scripture that God takes the marriage relationship very seriously. Today, it is under attack from every direction, because our nation no longer believes in God nor in His divinely ordained institutions.
Before The Throne:
Pray that the importance and value of traditional marriage will once again be recognized by the majority of our people. Pray for those Christians who have fallen into adulterous relationships. Ask God to protect the body of Christ from the reputation of being hypocritical in these things. Also ask Him to protect the pastors and churches who refuse to accept any laws that do not support His definition and laws for marriage.
For Further Study:
(v.12) ** Prov 2:16-17;
(v.13) ** Lev 18:20; Lev 20:10; Prov 7:18-19; Prov 30:20;
(v.14) ** jealousy. Num 5:30; Prov 6:34; Song 8:6; Zeph 3:8; 1Cor 10:22;
(v.15) ** her offering for her. Lev 5:11; Hos 3:2; ** bringing. 1Kgs 17:18; Ezek 29:16; Heb 10:3;
(v.16) ** bring her near. Lev 1:3; Jer 17:10; Heb 13:4; Rev 2:22-:23;
(v.17) ** holy water. Num 19:2-9; Exod 30:18; ** of the dust. Job 2:12; Jer 17:13; Lam 3:29; John 8:6; John 8:8;
(v.18) ** the priest. Heb 13:4; Rev 2:19-23; ** uncover. Lev 13:45; 1Cor 11:15; Heb 4:12-13; ** the bitter water. Deut 29:18; 1Sam 15:32; Prov 5:4; Eccl 7:26; Isa 38:17; Jer 2:19; Rev 10:9-10;
(v.19) ** charge her. Mt 26:63; ** with another. Ro 7:2;
(v.21) ** an oath. Josh 6:26; 1Sam 14:24; Neh 10:29; Matt 26:74; ** The Lord make. Isa 65:15; Jer 29:22; ** rot. Heb. fall. 2Chr 21:15; Prov 10:7;
(v.22) ** go into. Ps 109:18; Prov 1:31; Ezek 3:3; ** the woman. Deut 27:15-26; Job 31:21-22, 39-40; Ps 7:4-5; ** Amen. Ps 41:13; Ps 72:19; Ps 89:52; John 3:3, 11; John 5:24-25; John 6:53;
(v.23) ** write these. Exod 17:14; Deut 31:19; 2Chr 34:24; Job 31:35; Jer 51:60-64; 1Cor 16:21-22; Rev 20:12; ** blot. Ps 51:1, 9; Isa 43:25; Isa 44:22; Acts 3:19;
(v.24) ** Zech 5:3; Zech 5:4; Mal 3:5;
(v.25) ** wave. Exod 29:24; Lev 8:27;
(v.26) ** Lev 2:2, 9; Lev 5:12; Lev 6:15;
(v.27) ** if she be defiled. Prov 5:4-11; Eccl 7:26; Rom 6:21; 2Cor 2:16; Heb 10:26-30; 2Pet 2:10; ** the woman. Deut 28:37; Ps 83:9-11; Isa 65:15; Jer 24:9; Jer 29:18, 22; Jer 42:18; Zec 8:13;
(v.28) ** And if. Num 5:19; Mic 7:7-10; 2Cor 4:17; 1Pet 1:7; ** and shall. Ps 113:9;
(v.29) ** the law. Lev 7:11; Lev 11:46; Lev 13:59; Lev 14:54-57; Lev 15:32-33; ** when a wife goeth. Isa 5:7-8;
(v.31) ** be guiltless. Ps 37:6; ** bear. Num 9:13; Lev 20:10; Lev 20:17-20; Ezek 18:4; Rom 2:8-9;
The Law of Restitution
5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 6 Speak unto the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the LORD, and that person be guilty; 7 Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed. 8 But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the LORD, even to the priest; beside the ram of the atonement, whereby an atonement shall be made for him. 9 And every offering of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which they bring unto the priest, shall be his. 10 And every man's hallowed things shall be his: whatsoever any man giveth the priest, it shall be his.
God delivered His laws to Moses, but Moses was obligated to disseminate the information to all of the people of Israel. The instructions in this passage are a supplement to what can be found in Leviticus 6:1 ff. and were important for the keeping of the peace.
"When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit,.." The wording here is interesting. The phrase, "any sin that men commit," shows that sin is common among men. Animals do not sin, the mountains and the trees do not sin, the oceans and rivers do not sin but, among men, sin is a common occurrence. God told Moses that there would be sin with which he would have to deal.
"...to do a trespass against the LORD,.." All sin is considered by God to be a rebellion against Him. This is a truth that men tend to forget whenever they do harm to another human being. When David sinned by committing adultery and murder, he knew that truth and wrote, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest." (Psalms 51:4) Even those things that seem like small offenses against another are thus magnified in their seriousness, because they are against the omnipotent and sovereign God of all creation.
Whenever a man or woman sinned against another, he was required to confess it and repay the injured party for the damages. His penalty was to pay an additional 20% of those damages. There was no jail time prescribed. Society was not responsible for housing and feeding the perpetrator. If a person knew that his theft or misuse of property or funds would cost him rather than benefitting him, he would be less likely to commit the offense. Crime did not pay. It is likely that those who could not make restitution for what they had done were required to work it off.
If restitution could not be made because the injured party was deceased and had no heirs, the offender was required to pay the amount due to the Lord by giving it to His priest. However, the offender was also required to make a trespass offering to the Lord in addition to the restitution that was paid to the victim or his family. "And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:" (Leviticus 6:6) The amount of the restitution had to be paid in addition to "the ram of the atonement, whereby an atonement shall be made for him;"
Lastly, everything that is brought to the priest as an offering or in restitution for sin became the property of the priest. This was another one of God's method's for supporting His ministers.
Christians should never defraud, steal or damage someone else for any reason. We are not under this law, but under grace. Grace however should work on our consciences so that we would also be graceful. When we realize that someone has been damaged by us, would it not be the Christian thing to do, if we repaid the injured party with the principle plus 20 percent?
Before The Throne:
How is your record for treating others as you would be treated? Pray about it. Perhaps there is some restitution that could be made for your sins against others. Pray that God will give a heart of forgiveness to those whom you have offended. Praise Him for bringing these things to your attention.
For Further Study:
(v.6) ** When. Lev 5:1-4, 17; Lev 6:2-3;
(v.7) ** confess. Lev 5:5; Lev 26:40; Josh 7:19; Job 33:27-28; Ps 32:5; Prov 28:13; 1Jo 1:8-10; ** and he shall. Lev 5:15; Lev 6:4-7; Lev 7:7; Luke 19:8;
(v.8 ) ** have no. Lev 25:25-26; ** beside the ram. Lev 6:6-7; Lev 7:7;
(v.9) ** offering. or, heave offering. Num 18:8-9, 19; Exod 29:28; Lev 6:17-18, 26; Lev 7:6-14; Lev 10:13; Lev 22:2-3; Deut 18:3-4; Ezek 44:29-30; Mal 3:8-10; 1Cor 9:7-13;
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead: 3 Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell. 4 And the children of Israel did so, and put them out without the camp: as the LORD spake unto Moses, so did the children of Israel.
The sanctity of the church, of God's people and of the land wherein He dwells among them is extremely important. The nation of Israel had to learn how perfectly righteous God is and how to live in His presence. This was partly taught by the assignments of the Levites to the ministry of the tabernacle in the previous chapter. "Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 20:7) This commandment is as applicable today as it was back then. The apostle Peter wrote, "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)
This and the next chapter affirm some of the laws of Leviticus and at times explains them. These first four verses deal with health issues. Since there were no legitimate medical treatments for most illnesses, care had to be taken to not pollute the camp. Since God loves every person, no matter how sick he or she might be, it might cause us to wonder why He would have anyone with an illness of any kind put out of the camp. In our politically corect world of the 21st century, many would consider this passage to be hate speech.
Nevertheless, Israel had to learn about the absolute perfection of their God. Things or people that are blemished have no place in His kingdom. Therefore, what we read in these verses is there both for the welfare of the public health and for the purpose of teaching them about the holiness of God.
Today, leprosy can be treated but back then there was no cure. Although it is not highly contagious, without a cure, even a small risk was too much to take, especially when they did not know the cause of it. WebMD.com says, "You can catch it only if you come into close and repeated contact with nose and mouth droplets from someone with untreated leprosy." It is very dangerous to be around a leper, if you do not know that. Thus, Leviticus 13 prescribes the method by which the priests should determine whether or not someone was infected and, if they were, to put them out of the camp until they were healed.
The same law of banishment applied to anyone with an unusual issue of blood, pus, or other body fluids. Many diseases are transmitted by body fluids and, when there is an abnormal discharge, there is a high probability of an illness that could be contagious.
Touching the dead was another act that could cause a health problem. Dead animals often carry diseases. Since they did not have any form of forensic medicine, they would not be able to determine what killed a person, especially when he died of some natural causes. God is not a God of the dead, but of the living. We will study more about this later, but Numbers 19:11-16 states that, " He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him. This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean. And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days."
These things were all done as the Lord commanded, "that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell." This was the law which extended to the tabernacle, in Leviticus 15:31, "Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them," and to the whole land of Canaan in Numbers 35:33, "So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it."
Christians are the place wherein the Holy Spirit of God dwells, and we must keep ourselves clean from all unrighteousness. There are so many Bible passages that teach this that it seems like it should not have to be said again and again. However Jesus said, "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;" (Matthew 13:41) This is further confirmed in Revelation 21:27, "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."
Before The Throne:
The born again Christian is undefiled. His or her sins, past, present and future have been forgiven and he has been cleansed of all unrighteousness. Nevertheless, we live in the flesh and should keep it under control. Pray that God would help you live out the righteousness with which he has blessed you. Ask Him to help you bring every thought into subjection under Jesus Christ. Pray that there be nothing in you that would defile His church.
For Further Study:
(v.2) ** put out of the camp. Num 12:14; Lev 13:46; Deut 24:8-9; 2Kgs 7:3; ** and every. Le 15:2-27; ** and whosoever. Num 9:6-10; Num 19:11-16; Num 31:19; Lev 21:1;
(v.3) ** without. 1Kgs 7:3; 1Cor 5:7-13; 2Cor 6:17; 2Thess 3:6; Titus 3:10; Heb 12:15-16; 2John 1:10-11; Rev 21:27; ** defile not. Num 19:22; Hag 2:13-14; ** in the midst. Lev 26:11-12; Deut 23:14; Ps 68:18; Isa 12:6; 2Cor 6:16; Rev 21:3;
The Hope of His Calling
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
The Apostle Paul now proceeds to explain
what he means by the phrase "revelation in the knowledge of him." He divides this divine knowledge into three parts, i.e. to know what is the hope of his calling, to know the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and to know what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe (v.19).
First, however, he says that this is possible, "The eyes of your understanding having been enlightened." John Gill wrote, "...the phrase..., 'the eye of the understanding', is Rabbinical, and often to be met with in Jewish writings; the Alexandrian copy, and several others, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, read, 'the eyes of your heart'; and... 'the eyes of the hearts, or minds', is a phrase used by the Jewish writers." It was a common expression used to indicate that you had more understanding of spiritual matters.
If we stand in a darkened room, our eyes will adjust and we will see some of the things that are there. Our eyes are fine, yet we do not see everything that is in the room. The same is true of Christians who do not rely on the Holy Spirit for enlightenment. They will understand some things about God and Christ but they will miss more than they understand. The eyes of their understanding are darkened. However, when one stays constantly at prayer and Bible study the Spirit will enlighten him and he will understand more.
In the fourth chapter of this letter, Paul contrasts what he has just said with the darkness in which the pagans lived. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus." (Ephesians 4:17-21) Interestingly, he uses both figures of speech, "having their understanding darkened" and "the blindness of their heart." We will study this passage in more detail later.
Paul's prayer was that the Holy Spirit would reveal to them the knowledge of God and that, their eyes now being enlightened, they would know what is the hope of His calling. It is God who has called us for His particular purpose. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30) Then, the hope of our calling seems to be that we would be conformed to the image of His Son and be glorified with Him.
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:16-18)
And, if you know what is the hope of your calling, would you not live accordingly. The Apostle John said very plainly, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3) Those who understand the hope of his calling should be purifying themselves, first with the constant thought of it, and then with the appropriate response to it.
That is what Paul did and what every true Christian must do. "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) So press toward the mark. Life is a marathon, and the glory of God is the finish line and the winners trophy. We work to glorify God and are glorified with Christ at his return.
Before The Throne
If you cannot see clearly what is the hope of your calling, pray that God will enlighten your understanding. Ask Him to do the same for every other Christian whom you know. It is so important that we press toward the mark. Pray that the Lord will prevent you from losing your focus and forgetting your purpose in Christ. Unlike those who have no faith you have a wonderful hope. Give thanks!
This beautiful hymn by Clara Scott is a prayer about this very subject:
Open my eyes that I may see,For Further Study:
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key,
That shall unclasp and set me free;
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine.
** eyes: Eph 5:8; Psa 119:18; Isa 6:10; 29:10, 18; 32:3; 42:7; Mat 13:15; Luk 24:45; Act 16:14; 26:18; 2Co 4:4, 6; Heb 10:32; ** is: Eph 2:12; 4:4; Rom 5:4, 5; 8:24-25; Gal 5:5; Col 1:5, 23; 1Th 5:8; 2Th 2:16; Tit 2:13; 3:7; 1Pe 1:3; 1Jo 3:1-3; ** his calling: Eph 4:1; Rom 8:28-30; Phi 3:14; Col 3:15; 1Th 2:12; 2Th 1:11; 1Ti 6:12; 1Pe 3:9; 5:10; ** the riches: Eph 3:8, 16;
Sharing God's Work
21 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 22 Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, throughout the houses of their fathers, by their families; 23 From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation. 24 This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, to serve, and for burdens: 25 And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers' skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, 26 And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve. 27 At the appointment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burdens, and in all their service: and ye shall appoint unto them in charge all their burdens. 28 This is the service of the families of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation: and their charge shall be under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 29 As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers; 30 From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation. 31 And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof, 32 And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden. 33 This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.
Each member of the body has its own function that is vital to the function of the whole. The hand is as important as the foot. This is demonstrated in the manner that God has distributed the responsibilities of the Levites. Each family was assigned a task that was necessary to the movement of the tabernacle. Aaron and his sons covered all of the furnishings, instruments and vessels of worship within the sanctuary. The the family of Kohath was then responsible for moving them after they were covered. Eleazar was given the responsibility of the oil for the lamp, the incense, and the anointing oil as well as the total oversight of the tabernacle. These were the most holy things. When they had been removed The Gershonites began to disassemble the tent itself.
The Gershonite men between thirty and fifty years old were responsible for all of the curtains, hangings and coverings of the tabernacle. The only drapery that they were not allowed to touch was the vail that was hung between the holiest place and the holy of holies. That was used to cover the ark before the Kohathites could move it. Each Gershonite man was assigned his duties by Aaron and his sons so that there would be no confusion. Ithamar, the son of Aaron. was responsible for their supervision.
Merari was the third family of the Levites and they were also numbered from thirty to fifty years old. They were assigned to carry the heavier items of the tabernacle, the boards, the bars, the pillars, the pins, the cords and anything else that was associated with the supporting structure. It appears that these items were assigned to each man by name. Perhaps this was done because there were many small items such as the pins and sockets which could be lost. Each man was therefore personally accountable for his assigned parts. Since there were some extremely heavy parts, such as the pillars, assigning each by name would have prevented some of the men from only choosing the lightest work and burdening their brothers with all of the heavier items.
These were the last things to be taken down but the first to be set up when making camp. As Jesus said, "The last shall be first and the first shall be last." One task in the ministry of the tabernacle was not more important than the other. The most holy things were cared for by the priests but, without the heavy work of moving and rebuilding nthe structure itself, the tabernacle could go nowhere.
Matthew Henry commented on their work, saying, "They had tents of their own to take care of, and to take along with them, but the young men under thirty, and the old men above fifty, might serve for them; nor is there any mention of them, for God's house must always be preferred before our own. Their care was preposterous who built and ceiled their own houses while God's house lay waste, Hag 1:4; Hag 1:9. The death of the saints is represented as the taking down of the tabernacle (2 Cor. v. 1), and the putting of it off, 2 Pet. i. 14. The immortal soul, like the most holy things, is first covered and taken away, carried by angels, unseen, under the inspection of the Lord Jesus, our Eleazar."
We are indeed the temple of the Holy Spirit and have been commanded to keep it free from all uncleanliness. "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD." (Isaiah 52:11) And again, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
As the tabernacle represents the body of Christ, it could only be touched by those who were elected by God. The care and reverence with which it was treated was an example for us to consider how we, God's elect, should treat the temple that God has given us, the tabernacle of our own bodies. Each of us has an appointed calling to minister the things of the Lord, and we should do it with reverence and care. No member of the body is more important than any other.
Before The Throne:
Pray about your own part in God's holy tabernacle. Are you ministering with reverence and care? Are you being careful that no unclean thing touches the things of God? Do you treat your brothers and sisters in Christ as equals? Humble yourself before the Lord today and take up the cross that He has lain upon you.
For Further Study:
(v.22) ** Num 3:18, 21, 24;
(v.23) ** to perform the service. Heb. to war the warfare. Num 4:3; Isa 63:1-4; Rom 7:14-24; 1Cor 9:7; 2Cor 6:7; 2Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:10-19; Gal 5:17, 24; 1Tim 1:18; 2Tim 2:3; 2Tim 2:4; 2Tim 4:7;
(v.24) ** burdens. or, carriage. Num 4:15, 19, 47, 49;
(v.25) ** the curtains. Num 3:25, 26; Num 7:5-7; ** the covering. Ex 26:14;
(v.26) ** the hangings. Ex 27:9; ** and their cords. Ex 35:18;
(v.27) ** appointment. Luke 1:70; 1Cor 11:2;
(v.28) ** 1Cor 12:5-6;
(v.30) ** service. Heb. warfare. Num 4:3; Ps 110:1-7; 1Tim 6:11-12; 2Tim 2:4; 2Tim 4:7-8;
(v.31) ** the charge. Num 3:36-37; Num 7:8-9; ** the boards. Ex 26:15;
(v.32) ** and by name. Num 3:8; Num 7:1; Exod 25:9; Exod 38:17, 21; 1Chr 9:29;
(v.33) ** under the hand. Num 4:28; Josh 3:6; Isa 3:6;
Eleazor's Sacred Trust
16 And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest pertaineth the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, and the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof. 17 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 18 Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites: 19 But thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden: 20 But they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die.
Eleazor, the son of Aaron, had been placed in authority as the chief of the chief of the Levites (3:32). He was the overseer of all the temple work performed by the Levites. He was now placed in charge of the oil for the lamps on the candlestick of the sanctuary. This was a very important responsibility, for God had said, "Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually." (Leviticus 24:2)
Jesus Christ is our tabernacle and, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4) His light is precious and pure and it was passed on to us that we might be the light of the world. Such a divine light can never be extinguished. Eleazor was responsible for seeing that the type would also burn continually from pure olive oil.
He was also in charge of the sweet incense that was burned on the altar in the holiest place. The incense was a very special mixture of spices the recipe of which was given to Moses, and no one was permitted to copy it or use it for any other purpose (Exodus 30:34-38). As the people prayed outside in the courtyard, the sweet smell of the incense wafted upward making them acceptable to the Lord. In John's vision of the heavenly things, he saw, "...another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne."
The daily meat offering was also placed in Eleazor's charge. "The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even: And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD. (Exodus 30:39-41) The lamb, of course, represented our Lord Jesus Christ but, while He was offered once to make atonement for all of our sins, the meat offering was made twice a day, every day. It could never be sufficient to take away all sins.
The anointing oil was also of a special recipe to be used exclusively for anointing the priests who would serve in the temple. The oil represented the sweet anointing of the Holy Spirit, which every born again Christian enjoys.
Moses was then given the command in verses 17-20 to see to it that the Kohathites would not be cut off from among the Levites. It was the responsibility of the priests, Aaron and sons, to see that everything in the tabernacle was properly wrapped and prepared for transport before the Kohathites were to enter the tabernacle to pick them up. Carelessness on the part of the priests might have allowed a part of the furnishings to be exposed so that one or more of the Kohathite men would see it. That would result in their instant death. The priests wrapped all the furnishings and then assigned each of the men to their duties when the tabernacle was ready to be moved.
As I have noted many times in these studies, the priesthood of the believer should be taken just as seriously. Entrusted with the gospel of Christ, we carry the power of God unto salvation. Life and death of those people whom we meet are in our hands. Carelessness on our part, failure to present the gospel, failure to keep the light of Christ burning before the lost world can cause eternal consequences for those whom we do not tell.
Before The Throne:
Ask God to reignite the fire in you. Sometimes we do get careless with our priestly responsibilities but, if we truly want to serve Him, He will give us the zeal that we need. Pray that you will be the light that leads others into the sanctuary of Jesus Christ.
For Further Study:
(v.16) ** the oil. Exod 25:6; Exod 27:20-21; Lev 24:2; ** the sweet. Exod 30:34-38; Exod 37:29; ** the daily. Ex 29:39-41; ** the anointing. Ex 30:23-33; ** the oversight. Luke 4:18; Acts 20:28; 1Cor 4:1; 1Tim 2:5; Heb 3:1, 6; 1Pet 2:25; 1Pet 5:2;
(v.18) ** Num 16:32; Num 17:10; Num 18:5; Exod 19:21; Lev 10:1-2; 1Sam 6:19; 2Sam 6:6-7; Jer 38:23;
(v.20) ** they shall. Num 4:15, 19; Exod 19:21; Lev 10:2; 1Sam 6:19; Heb 10:19-20; Rev 11:19:
On Touching Holiness
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 2 Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers, 3 From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation. 4 This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things: 5 And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: 6 And shall put thereon the covering of badgers' skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof. 7 And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon: 8 And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put in the staves thereof. 9 And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it: 10 And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put it upon a bar. 11 And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put to the staves thereof: 12 And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put them on a bar: 13 And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon: 14 And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers' skins, and put to the staves of it. 15 And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.
The fourth chapter of Numbers gives us the details of how the Levitical services were to be carried out, particularly in transporting the tabernacle. The first fifteen verses deal with the responsibilities of the Kohathites. Once again, a census is taken but this time only those ages thirty to fifty were counted instead of those who were one month and older. This is the age when it appears that God would consider men to be at the peak of their strength and to be more mature and sober about carrying out their responsibilities. It is interesting to note that both John the Baptist and Jesus waited until they turned thirty before beginning their respective ministries.
Philip J. Budd pointed out that in Numbers 8:23-26 the Levites were counted from the ages of twenty-five to fifty years old. However, The College Press Textbook Series on 8:23-26 explains the discrepancy in the following way. "In Num. 4:3-49, the ages for service among the Levites is given at thirty to fifty: but a careful reading will show the logical difference between the two prescriptions. In the earlier passage, the assignment is for the transportation of the tabernacle and its trappings; in the passage before us, the Levites are to render all the services necessary to its use. Such duties would include the tasks of cleaning, preparing the wood and water for sacrifices, slaughter of the animals, and dismantling or assembling the entire sanctuary."
Matthew Henry explained the discrepancies another way. "They were entered as probationers at twenty-five years old, (ch. viii. 24), and in David's time, when there was more work to be done, at twenty (1 Chron. xxiii. 24, and so Ezra iii. 8); but they must be five years learning and waiting, and so fitting themselves for service; nay, in David's time they were ten years in preparation, from twenty to thirty."
The process of moving had to begin with Aaron and his sons (v.5). They were to take down the veil that was hung between the holiest place and the holy of holies in the tabernacle and cover the ark of the testimony with it. That was subsequently covered with the skins of a "clean" animal and then cover again with a "blue" or violet cloth. The dye for this was obtained from the cerulean mussel. Then, the poles which were used to carry the ark were inserted into their place.
Aaron and his sons were also told to cover the table for the shewbread with a similar blue cloth. Then, the dishes, spoons, bowls and their covers were placed on top along with the bread. These were covered with a scarlet colored cloth and then with skins of clean animals. The poles with which the table was carried were then inserted into their places.
The candlestick and all of its accessories were next to be covered with a blue cloth. These were to be wrapped in clean skins and then suspended from a pole to be carried.
The golden altar, also called the altar of incense, was treated the same as the table of shewbread and all the other items of ministry were treated in the same manner as the candlestick and its accessories.
Once everything inside the tabernacle were satisfactorily wrapped, Aaron and his sons came outside to the courtyard and cleaned the ashes from the altar of burnt offering, which stood in front of the entrance. John Gill wrote, "...and though no mention is made of the fire, which was always burning on it, it was doubtless preserved, and care was taken for the carrying it along with the altar, or in a separate vessel from it."
The altar was then covered with a blue cloth, and all of the instruments used for the burnt offering and fire were placed upon it. They were also covered with skins and the poles used to carry the altar were put in place.
Only after all of the furnishings and vessels of the tabernacle were covered coul the Kohathites allowed to enter and carry them away. These things were so holy that the Kohathites assigned to move them could neither see them nor touch them or they would die. All things were carried by the staves or poles that were inserted into them.
All of these preparations illustrate the great care that the ministers of the Lord must exercise while tending to His business. Like the furnishings of the temple, the ministrations of the gospel must be handled with careful determination. Every Christian is a priest and charged with the administration of the word of God. We must travel with it wherever we go, just as the tabernacle traveled with Israel. We are also responsible for protecting it from the touch of those who are hardened enemies of the Lord. Jesus said, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." (Matthew 7:6)
Before The Throne:
Ask God to help you appreciate the meaning and depth of His holiness. Meditate on the fact that the Kohathites would die if they even looked upon the holy things before they were covered. Now, pray about how God would have you perform your priestly duties. Do you take the gospel message seriously enough? Have you handled your responsibility as though it were a matter of life and death?
For Further Study:
(v.2) ** Num 3:19; Num 3:27;
(v.3) ** thirty years. Num 8:24-26; Gen 41:46; 1Chr 23:3, 24-27; 1Chr 28:12-13; Luke 3:23; 1Tim 3:6; ** enter. 2Kgs 11:4-12; 2Chr 23:1-11; 2Cor 10:3-4; Eph 6:10-18; 1Tim 1:18; ** to do. Num 3:7-8; Num 16:9; 1Chr 6:48; 1Chr 23:4-5; 1Chr 23:28-32; 1Tim 3:1;
(v.4) ** Num 4:19, 24. 30; Num 3:30-31; Mark 13:34;
(v.5) ** And when. Num 2:16-17; Num 10:14; ** Aaron shall come. Num 3:27-32; ** they shall. Exod 26:31-33; Exod 36:35; Exod 40:3; Isa 25:7; Matt 27:51; Heb 9:3; Heb 10:20; ** and cover. Exod 25:10-22; Exod 37:1-9; 2Sam 6:2-9;
(v.6) ** a cloth. Exod 35:19; Exod 39:1, 41; ** the staves. Exod 25:13-15; 1Kgs 8:7-8;
(v.7) ** the table. Exod 25:23-30; Exod 37:10-16; Lev 24:5-8;
(v.9) ** Exod 25:31-39; Exod 37:17-24; Ps 119:105; Rev 1:20; Rev 2:1;
(v.11) ** Exod 30:1-19; Exod 37:25-28; Exod 39:38; Exod 40:5, 26-27;
(v.12) ** Num 3:8; Exod 25:9; Exod 31:10; 2Kgs 25:14-15; 1Chr 9:29; 2Chr 4:11, 16, 19, 22;
(v.13) ** Exod 27:3-5; Exod 39:1, 41; Lev 6:12-13;
(v.14) ** all the vessels thereof. Exod 38:1-7; 2Chr 4:19;
(v.15) ** after that. Num 7:9; Num 10:21; Deut 31:9; Josh 4:10; 2Sam 6:13; 1Chr 15:2, 15; ** they shall. Num 3:38; Exod 19:12; 1Sam 6:19; 2Sam 6:6-7; 1Chr 13:9-10; Heb 12:18-29; ** These things. Num 3:30-31;
Supporting the Ministry
40 And the LORD said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names. 41 And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the LORD) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel. 42 And Moses numbered, as the LORD commanded him, all the firstborn among the children of Israel. 43 And all the firstborn males by the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen. 44 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 45 Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD. 46 And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites; 47 Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:) 48 And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons. 49 And Moses took the redemption money of them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites: 50 Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: 51 And Moses gave the money of them that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.
Verses 40 through 45 repeat what was said in the earlier verses except for two points. First, is that all of the cattle of the Levites were taken from the Levites in exchange for the firstborn of the cattle belonging to all the other tribes. Secondly, we are told that the number of firstborn of the children of Israel were 22,273 males. This is an exceptionally small number when compared to the total number of Israelites, which was around 2 million. It would appear to be an inaccuracy, but then we do not know how they defined the firstborn. It could be that they only counted the firstborn male children who had not yet become fathers themselves and were not the heads of households. (There are other theories not worth mentioning here.) The number was almost the same as the number of Levites, so that it was an even exchange.
"And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the LORD) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel;" (v.41) It is interesting to note that, as the Lord made this command, He inserted the parenthetical phrase, "I am the Lord (Heb. Yahweh)," here and in v.45. See the similarity to His oath to destroy the firstborn of Egypt, "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD (Heb. Yahweh)." There could be no doubt that Yahweh was the same God who had liberated them from the Egyptians.
Then, in verse 47, we see that the fathers of the firstborn males of Israel had to redeem them for five shekels of silver. A shekel was a standard weight of measure that was kept in the sanctuary so that business could be conducted fairly. A shekel was approximately equal to 0.3646 of a Troy ounce. Five shekels was, therefore, 1.823 troy ounces of silver.
"And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons." Thus, we can see that God provided for those who served Him as priests. This was the principle that the apostle Paul relied upon when he wrote, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." (1Corinthians. 9:14) God's servants must be provided for by the congregation to whom they minister. The churches of Jesus Christ are the redeemed among men, just as the firstborn of Israel were to be redeemed.
Moses collected 1,365 shekels, or 497.679 troy ounces of silver, and gave it to Aaron and his sons, "...according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses."
"Viewed in another way the hierarchy constitutes the recognized channel through which God brings stability and well-being to his people. Priestly ministry functions 'on behalf of the people of Israel' (v 9). It is thus essential that it be exercised conscientiously by priests and Levites together, and that they in turn be financially maintained by the people. In claiming the firstborn as his own God reveals his good will and commitment toward his people. The theology of leadership among the people of God is seen to include a recognition by leaders of the perfection of God's will, and a thoroughly conscientious commitment to the responsibilities of leadership. The duty of those who are led is held to include respect for what is learned of God through the leadership, and thus a proper recognition and support for the work of those who lead." (Philip J. Budd; Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 5, p. 41; Word Inc. 1984)
Before The Throne:
Pray for your church leaders. Ask God to instill in His people the desire to support and care for the clergy. Consider your own tithing practices and pray about the possibility of increasing what you give. Born again Christians are not under the law but under grace. However, the tithe has nothing to do with the law. Everything we earn comes from God, and He says the first 10% belongs to Him. Ask Him to convert you into a cheerful giver who goes beyond just giving back what already belongs to Him.
For Further Study:
(v.40) ** Num 3:12; Num 3:15; Exod 32:26-29; Ps 87:6; Isa 4:3; Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; 2Tim 2:19; Heb 12:23; Rev 3:5; Rev 14:4;
(v.41) ** Num 3:12; Num 8:16; Num 18:15; Exod 24:5-6; Exod 32:26-29; Matt 20:28; 1Tim 2:6;
(v.45) ** Num 3:12;
(v.46) ** redeemed. Num 18:15; Exod 13:13;
(v.47) ** five shekels. Num 18:16; Lev 27:6; ** the shekel. Num 3:50; Exod 30:13; Lev 27:25; Ezek 45:12;
(v.50) ** Matt 20:28; 1Tim 2:5-6; Titus 2:14; Heb 9:12; 1Pet 1:18; 1Pet 3:18;
(v.51) ** Moses. Num 16:15; 1Sam 12:3-4; Acts 20:33; 1Cor 9:12; 1Pet 5:2; *8as the Lord. Mal 4:4;
Separated by Sin
32 And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary. 33 Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites: these are the families of Merari. 34 And those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred. 35 And the chief of the house of the father of the families of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail: these shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward. 36 And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto, 37 And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords. 38 But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. 39 All that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD, throughout their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.
It is sometimes assumed that v.32 was not in the original manuscript but was inserted in a later copy. However, Philip J. Budd points out in the Word Biblical Commentary that there is no reason to make such an assumption. Moses felt the need to place the role of Eleazar at this point, because of the danger that the Kohathites faced in handling the ark of the covenant, the furnishings and the vessels of the sanctuary. They were not to even look upon these things until they were covered by the priests (4:17-20). Eleazar was, therefore, appointed to be the chief over the chiefs of the Levites, who were Eliasaph the son of Lael, the chief of the Gershonites; and Elizaphan the son of Uzziel, the chief of the Kohathites; and Zuriel the son of Abihail, the chief of the Merarites. Eleazar was particularly responsible for those who ministered to the items of the sanctuary, i.e. the Kohathites of whom he was a member.
The third family of Levi was Merari and it was divided into the two families, the Mahlites and the Mushites. There were six thousand two hundred of them ranging in age from one month and older. Merari camped on the northside of the tabernacle between it and the tribe of Dan. Merariites were responsible for the care of the posts, the boards, the bars, the cords and all of the nuts and bolts of the tabernacle.
The most important camp was that of the families of Moses and Aaron. Budd writes, "In this, as elsewhere, the author is able to sow the seed of ideas yet to come. Since he also wishes to associate Aaron himself as closely as possible with Moses, in order to establish the idea of a priestly theocracy, the practicalities of day-to-day priestly ministry are inclined to devolve upon the sons." (Philip J. Budd, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 5, p40; Word Inc., 1984) Moses was the chief secular authority, subject only to God, and Aaron was the chief religious authority. Together they molded Israel into a theocratical society. The tabernacle always faced to the east, the families of Moses and Aaron would camp in a position from which they could defend the entrance to it.
The tabernacle was a holy place, and no one could enter it but the priests. "The stranger" (v.38) should be understood to mean anyone whom God had not appointed to the service of the tabernacle, whether Israelite or heathen. They were sinners and could not touch the holy things, could not look upon the furniture and vessels of the sanctuary, and could not enter into it or they would die.
"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2) These instructions that were given to Moses concerning the Levitical ministry of the tabernacle emphasize how absolutely man has been separated from our God. Even looking upon His holy things would result in instant death. God's perfection will not be compromised.
But we have a High Priest who has not only entered into the sanctuary but also invites us to join Him and promises us, not death for doing so, but eternal life. "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Hebrews 9:11-12) "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) Jesus is the only way for a sinner to enter the throne room of grace.
The ministry of the tabernacle was an enormous job. In all there were twenty-two thousand Levites assigned to the task, although many of those were not old enough or well enough to do the work. The numbers, however, reflect that even this tent, which was just a very small earthly image of the real sanctuary in heaven, required many servants. We can only imagine the multitudes of angels that are assigned to perform the ministry of the heavenly sanctuary.
Before the Throne
Give thanks for the High Priest who now sits at the right hand of His Father and intercedes for your sin. Pray that God might use you to convict others of their sins and to lead them to Jesus. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ who are paying a great price to spread the gospel in foreign lands. Many are dying, not for entering in, but for showing others how to enter. Ask the Lord to put a hedge of protection around them.
For Further Study:
(v.32) ** Num 4:16, 27; Num 20:25-28; 2Kgs 25:18; 1Chr 9:14-20; 1Chr 26:20-24;
(v.33) ** Num 3:20; 1Chr 6:19; 1Chr 23:21;
(v.34) ** Num 1:21; Num 2:9, 11;
(v.35) ** shall. Num 3:28-29; Num 1:53; ** northward. 2:25;
(v.36) ** under the custody and charge. Num 4:29-33; Num 7:8; Exod 26:15-29, 32, 37; Exod 27:9-19; Exod 35:11, 18; Exod 36:20-34, 36; Exod 38:17-20; Exod 39:33;
(v.38) ** toward. Num 3:23, 29, 35; Num 1:53; Num 2:3; ** keeping. Num 3:10; Num 18:1-5; 1Chr 6:48-49; ** for the charge. Num 3:7-8, 10;
(v.39) ** Num 4:47-48; Num 26:62; Matt 7:14;