June 12, 2019

The Duties of the Levites Are Now Our Acts of Service

Numbers 3

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The Sons of Aaron

These are the generations of Aaron and Moses at the time when the LORD spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai. These are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he ordained to serve as priests. But Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD when they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests in the lifetime of Aaron their father.

Duties of the Levites

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him. They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. They shall guard all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle. And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are wholly given to him from among the people of Israel. 10 And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall guard their priesthood. But if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death.”

11 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, 13 for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.”

14 And the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying, 15 “List the sons of Levi, by fathers' houses and by clans; every male from a month old and upward you shall list.” 16 So Moses listed them according to the word of the LORD, as he was commanded. 17 And these were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon and Kohath and Merari. 18 And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their clans: Libni and Shimei. 19 And the sons of Kohath by their clans: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 20 And the sons of Merari by their clans: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites, by their fathers' houses.

21 To Gershon belonged the clan of the Libnites and the clan of the Shimeites; these were the clans of the Gershonites. 22 Their listing according to the number of all the males from a month old and upward was1 7,500. 23 The clans of the Gershonites were to camp behind the tabernacle on the west, 24 with Eliasaph, the son of Lael as chief of the fathers' house of the Gershonites. 25 And the guard duty of the sons of Gershon in the tent of meeting involved the tabernacle, the tent with its covering, the screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting, 26 the hangings of the court, the screen for the door of the court that is around the tabernacle and the altar, and its cords—all the service connected with these.

27 To Kohath belonged the clan of the Amramites and the clan of the Izharites and the clan of the Hebronites and the clan of the Uzzielites; these are the clans of the Kohathites. 28 According to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, there were 8,600, keeping guard over the sanctuary. 29 The clans of the sons of Kohath were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle, 30 with Elizaphan the son of Uzziel as chief of the fathers' house of the clans of the Kohathites. 31 And their guard duty involved the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the vessels of the sanctuary with which the priests minister, and the screen; all the service connected with these. 32 And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest was to be chief over the chiefs of the Levites, and to have oversight of those who kept guard over the sanctuary.

33 To Merari belonged the clan of the Mahlites and the clan of the Mushites: these are the clans of Merari. 34 Their listing according to the number of all the males from a month old and upward was 6,200. 35 And the chief of the fathers' house of the clans of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail. They were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle. 36 And the appointed guard duty of the sons of Merari involved the frames of the tabernacle, the bars, the pillars, the bases, and all their accessories; all the service connected with these; 37 also the pillars around the court, with their bases and pegs and cords.

38 Those who were to camp before the tabernacle on the east, before the tent of meeting toward the sunrise, were Moses and Aaron and his sons, guarding the sanctuary itself, to protect2 the people of Israel. And any outsider who came near was to be put to death. 39 All those listed among the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron listed at the commandment of the LORD, by clans, all the males from a month old and upward, were 22,000.

Redemption of the Firstborn

40 And the LORD said to Moses, “List all the firstborn males of the people of Israel, from a month old and upward, taking the number of their names. 41 And you shall take the Levites for me—I am the LORD—instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the people of Israel.” 42 So Moses listed all the firstborn among the people of Israel, as the LORD commanded him. 43 And all the firstborn males, according to the number of names, from a month old and upward as listed were 22,273.

44 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle. The Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD. 46 And as the redemption price for the 273 of the firstborn of the people of Israel, over and above the number of the male Levites, 47 you shall take five shekels3 per head; you shall take them according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel of twenty gerahs4), 48 and give the money to Aaron and his sons as the redemption price for those who are over.” 49 So Moses took the redemption money from those who were over and above those redeemed by the Levites. 50 From the firstborn of the people of Israel he took the money, 1,365 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary. 51 And Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Footnotes

[1] 3:22 Hebrew their listing was
[2] 3:38 Hebrew guard
[3] 3:47 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
[4] 3:47 A gerah was about 1/50 ounce or 0.6 gram

The Duties of the Levites Are Now Our Acts of Service



Key Verse | Numbers 3:7

"They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle."

Bio | Jason Hardcastle

Hey, fellow Journeyers! My name is Jason Hardcastle.

I am married to my high school sweetheart, Sissy. Our first date was a blind date after I convinced one of my coaches to set us up. We have been married 31 years!

We have five incredible grown kids, one awesome son-in-law, two beautiful daughters-in-law, and six grandkids (and hopefully many more to come).       

Things I really enjoy: Spending time with family, ministering side by side with Sissy in re|engage, meeting new people while serving with Frontlines, building things, and watching college football.

Central Truth

The tribe of Levi was chosen and commanded by God to minister and serve in the tabernacle. The priests were set apart for service to the high priest and the congregation. Today, we are all priests, still set apart from the world, but called to serve and proclaim His goodness in this world wherever we go!

Devotional | Numbers 3

God had a plan for the tribe of Levi. He commanded Aaron to gather the tribe of Levi and assign responsibilities for them to carry out His ministry. The standards were set, the priests were chosen, and anyone who...

God had a plan for the tribe of Levi. He commanded Aaron to gather the tribe of Levi and assign responsibilities for them to carry out His ministry. The standards were set, the priests were chosen, and anyone who didn't meet the criteria under Old Testament law was not allowed to serve in the ministry. As part of the lineage of Levi, the families were given different responsibilities within the ministry of the tabernacle. There were two basic ministries assigned to them: (1) guard the tabernacle from intruders and (2) minister at the tabernacle. These men were not only told what their responsibilities were, but also where they were to fulfill their duties. They were called to be fully committed to the duties they were assigned.

Today, we are all called to be priests. In 1 Peter 2:9, we, as believers, are called a royal priesthood. As believers, we are to proclaim the goodness of God—His glorious mercy, grace, and forgiveness—to a world that is decaying all around us.

Over the years, God has transformed me from being a "Levitical" priest to being a true member of the priesthood (Romans 7:6). For years I attended church out of a duty. Being raised in the church, I thought church was more about religion than mercy, grace, and forgiveness. When I did serve, it was not with joy, but often times with resentment.

Today, I serve along side my wife, not as a duty, but because of the joy of the Lord that is within me. When I came to the realization that Christ loves me for who I am and not what I do, a burden was lifted. True joy is found when I serve others as an act of worship, not out of a sense of obligation or to check a box (Romans 12:11). 

As Sissy and I get the privilege of serving those who are hurting in their marriage through re|engage, I realize that serving doesn't change people, but the One True King changes their heart. I get the honor of pointing them to God's Word and letting Christ carry the burden. As I welcome people in Frontlines, it is more to me than just a simple greeting. It is stepping toward those who enter the front doors with a willingness to share the love and joy of Christ.

In the Old Testament, only the tribe of Levi was assigned specific places of service. Today, we are called to serve using our God-given gifts (1 Peter 4:10). I encourage you to seek the joy of the Lord and see how He can change your heart (2 Corinthians 5:17). I was once a shy, quiet young man who was too afraid to ask a girl out on a date. God revealed to me that His joy helps overcome my self-imposed obstacles so I can fully deploy the unique gifts He has given me to serve Him!

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Discussion Questions

1. What gifts from God are you keeping to yourself that God wants you to use?

2. How are you deploying your gifts to serve the body of believers around you?

3. In a world full of lost people, how will you use your gifts TODAY to reach the lost?

6 Comments available

Michael Scaman 13 days ago

Interesting that the Levites are called guards about 5 times . Guard the high priest, the priesthood, the furnishing of the temple, the people. Guarding God’s holiness and guarding the people at the same time.

The plan was to have a nation which would be a kingdom of priests but with the golden calf situation that was put on hold and only the Levites and priests would be like the firstborn. Similarly, God told Pharaoh 'Israel is my firstborn" but in the fullest sense those become true in the church.

The book of Hebrews refers to the church of the firstborn ones. Peter says the church is a nation of priests.

Michael Scaman 13 days ago

“I’d rather be a doorman for the king of kings than dwell with the devil and all his wicked things” a children song goes as a takeoff on a Psalm from the Son’s of Korah

My favorite ‘guards’ of the tabernacle are the ‘Sons of Korah’ , musical bouncers in the tabernacle who wrote many Psalms Their ancestor Korah led a rebellion against Moses but not all the sons of Korah died and though they may have belonged in the grave (with Korah) they sang about redemption and related things. Asaph, Samuel and a number of David’s mighty men were related to Korah and it speaks of the mercies of God for them to survive and play a role in the theater of redemption in the Bible

https://newinchrist.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/sons-of-korah-doorkeepers-in-the-house-of-god/

greg jones 13 days ago
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@Hope.

I read that same piece by Rabbi Sacks. I liked this quote “We believe that every human being is in the image and likeness of God.“

God looks past individual-ism to see individuals. My take today. Great devotional.

Sue Bohlin 13 days ago

Whoa, Jason, you started out to afraid to ask a girl on a date and end up marrying Firecracker Sissy??! Impressive! Thanks for your devo.

Each time I read the Lord proclaiming that the Levites were His, it sparked two simultaneous thoughts in me. First, whenever we get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, I always think, “The wings are mine!” Then I immediately eat them. So so good! Not the same as the Lord’s proclamation, but still tasty. Second, “You are Mine” keeps showing up in dreams and visions of Muslims today as Jesus proclaims, “You belong to Me.” I just love that!

Hugh Stephenson 13 days ago

GM Jason. Great bio and devo.

2 Timothy 3:16 - God provides, God protects, God plans.

He provides the tent of meeting as His place to dwell. He provides 603,550 warriors and 22,000 guards. Wow. (The entire US military is about 1,500,000 to protect 330,000,000).

He provides the Holy Spirit to teach and remind me, (John 14:26).

The protects each side of the tabernacle with 22,000 Levites.

He protects me, saves me and promises he will never leave me, (https://www.openbible.info/topics/i_will_never_leave_you_nor_forsake_.

He plans in complete detail for each element of how He directs the Israelites. They need only to trust and obey.

He plans for me in detailed ways that are for my good and His glory, (Jeremiah 29:11).

His provisions and protections for me are also in His plans. He gives me highly specific gifts and talents so that I can serve others and glorify Him, (Matthew 25:14-30).

Hope Harris 15 days ago

GM JTJ grateful to be alive today and grateful for friends who open their homes when you don’t have electricity.

In addition to our passage I am reading a recent newsletter from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on Numbers titled “Leading a Nation of individuals” His main point is that within Jewish tradition every person’s life is valued and given dignity and respect. He points out that Moses and the priest were charged to lead a nation of individuals.

No person is ever overlooked by God.

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