Vs. 5, “You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again.” After God revealed Aaron’s budding staff to all of Israel in our previous chapter, this was a sign to every tribe including the Levites/Priests that God has chosen them alone to administer to the sanctuary and altar. Any non-Levite who violates God’s standard will not bring wrath upon the whole nation, but upon themselves and the Levites (vs. 1-7). God in His wisdom knowing the possible low morale of the Levites and priests, reminds them of how He will provide for them (vs. 8-32). Their (Levites & Priests) work and dedication would not allow them to farm and provide. The tithes of the rest of the tribe were to be given to the Levites and then they were to additionally give their ten percent tithe to the Priesthood.
Regarding application…Tithing Today. Vs. 26, “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.” Question: Should we tithe today? You may recall, tithing first came into the biblical scene when Abraham gave ten percent to Melchizedek (Genesis 14). The Apostle Paul affirms the church today that those who serve it have a right to receive support from the church (I Corinthians 9:13-14). Jesus also exhorted the disciples when he sent out the seventy to receive support (Luke 10). Certainly, most of us are not farmers so we don’t present our literal firstfruits, but we do make wages. We are simply stewards of the possessions we have. Let us be wise and seek how we may continue to support the church and ultimately bring glory to God!
Vs. 2, “Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out.” Question: Why Trumpets? Earlier (Numbers 9), we read that the cloud would signify when the Israelites were to leave camp (vs. 1-10). With two million plus, there were people bound to be in their tents, so the trumpets played a practical role. Depending on the type of trumpet blast, would determine which tribes would head out. It was a pretty exciting time for the people for they had been at Mount Sinai for nearly a year (vs. 11-28)! They were on their way to claim the promises of God. Question: What will happen? We have a intriguing story ahead of us, so stay tuned in to God’s word. In the latter section of our chapter, we read of Moses asking Hobab (Father-in-law, or brother-in-law) to help assist them on their journey.
Regarding application…God Uses Us! Vs. 31, “But Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you can be our eyes.” Question: If God was their guide, why would Moses ask Hobab to help them? Was Moses not trusting the Lord? Brothers and sisters, we are reminded throughout the Scriptures that God chooses to use us. Certainly, God can do everything on His own. Consider God being the ultimate delegator in a sense. Hobab had certain skills he had learned over the years that would benefit God’s people. Question: How is God using you? How can you be used more by God? Notice that Hobab, like many of us, declined to help (vs. 30). Just because we have said no in the past doesn’t dictate our future potential.
Vs. 1, “The Lord spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt.” Chronologically, this chapter should go before the military census in chapter one. In this chapter, we see an interesting relation with the observance of Passover (vs. 1-5) and then the cloud and fire (vs. 15-23); both of which were a part of the Exodus out of Egypt. Question: Why observe Passover each year? Some scholars point out that the Israelites were ungrateful. Whatever the reason, it was a way to please God and remind them of His faithfulness. Remember that Passover celebrates God’s deliverance by the lamb’s blood. I love God’s attention to the details given for those who became unclean due to a death (vs. 6-14). God cares even about some of the smallest details! In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 15-23), we see God giving clear direction of His purpose and presence through the cloud.
Regarding application…Living by the Cloud. Vs. 17, “Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.” How interesting that we use this terminology when it comes to the way we live our life on the internet. The internet guides many people’s lives as it the source for information, studying, living and entertaining. Yet, just as the Israelites lives were dictated by the cloud (God), our lives must be obedient to God’s direction too. I’ve often thought what a privilege the Israelites had to have the physical manifestation of God. Yet, we have something far more special through the promised Holy Spirit in our lives!
Vs. 2, “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the lamps, see that all seven light up the area in front of the lampstand.” The seven lamps were mentioned earlier in the Pentateuch (Exodus 25:37). Their purpose was to give light to the table and incense altar, hence the importance to put them facing forward (vs. 3). The light from the lamps not only served a practical function, but were symbolic of God’s divine presence. In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 5-22), the LORD instructs Moses how to get the Levites ready for service. Remember, the Levites were set apart for the work of the sanctuary. They were not given a tribal inheritance, for God was their inheritance. The Levites lived off the tithes of the rest of the nation (Numbers 18). It’s important to note that though priests came from the Levites, not all Levites were priests. Only the Levites who descended from Aaron were in the holy priesthood. Previously, we read (Leviticus 8) the ordination and ceremony of the priests. The Levite ceremony was certainly important and the laying of hands (vs. 10) by the Israelites show their importance for service to all the people. We are reminded they took the place of the firstborn requirement that needed to be fulfilled by the LORD (vs. 15-18). You may have noticed a possible discrepancy from (Numbers 4) concerning age of service (vs. 23-26). The five year difference is possibly explained (ages 25-30) by a training period.
Regarding application…Everyone is Important. The Levites represented those who directly served the LORD. In our churches today, we don’t have Levites who serve, but we do have the body of Christ. The Levites were separated with different, but important tasks. Likewise, we have diverse ways for the church members to serve and offer their gifts. This ceremony was important because it let the rest of the Levites and the Israelites know how important each Levite was. Question: How important are you? We did a survey at my church last Sunday with the question: Which are more important: sermon, worship or welcoming? Everyone plays an integral part in service to the church. I believe that one of the things that cause people to leave the church is because they don’t see what part they play. Continue to pray that God would give you wisdom and heart to be an important part of the church!
Vs. 2, “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body.” The rulings on purity in the camp (vs. 1-4) supplement the Leviticus readings in chapters 12-15. Question: Why the reminder? Remember, the Israelites just did a military census and the intention is to quarantine people who are sick because it could reduce the number of able bodies ready to defend. But more importantly, God dwelt among them and they were to be a holy people. Bear in mind, this is no way diminishes God’s love and care for those who were sick. The next section of our passage (vs. 5-10) deals with reparation for wrongs (Leviticus 6:1-7). A timely reminder about how we are to deal with conflict in our lives. We should make right what we did wrong. And lastly, we are presented quite dramatic procedure to determine the guilt/innocence of a wife (vs. 11-31). There are two possible situations; a wife has been unfaithful to her husband but has kept it secret; or a wife is innocent, but her husband was jealous without cause. It’s basically “he said, she said.” This is hard topic to explain for it seems very unfair in our modern time. Remember, this was a specific thing done for specific time for a specific people. In other words, this type of procedure does not apply to us today. For Bible study purposes, this difficult section of our passage is descriptive (tells us the fact) nature rather than a prescriptive (tells us the facts and then asks us to do it) nature.
Regarding application…Community Living. Even in the midst of an estimated 2 million people (give or take), there was a sense of community. The spiritual health (or lack thereof) can also affect the body of Christ today. In our ministry, we talked the past month about the importance of family and church. Our tendency in society today is to adopt individualism. Remember, people were not cast out to be forgotten in the Israelite camp. There was a process of restoration in place. This is what community/church living is about. We are affected when a person is physically, spiritually or emotionally sick in the church. Let’s continue to have a larger perspective when it comes to caring and loving those in our community!
Vs. 47, “You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.” There are two main things that are addressed in this chapter regarding dietary laws. The animals that one could eat and the coming into contact with a carcass, either one of these could make a person unclean. While God created all animals and it was good to Him (Genesis 1:21, 25), that doesn’t mean that all animals were intended to be eaten. In God’s plan, some animals were created for other purposes. It is important to remember that these dietary laws were only applicable to the Israelites. The church is not under these laws, though different applications can be applied to us today (Acts 10:9-16). Question: What is chewing the cud? The animals that chewed the cud were the type that swallows their food quickly, but has compartments in their stomach that allow the animal to regurgitate the food and chew it again.
Regarding application…Living Holy Lives. Vs. 45, “I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” In the context of this passage, I am reminded of Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31). The overarching intention is to remember no matter what we do, it can be for the glory of the Lord; even how we eat. Though we don’t live under such restrictions today, there still is a stark lesson for us. The way we eat can affect our testimony. One of the things I joke about is how I wouldn’t be the best missionary. I’m quite a picky eater and it is rude in many countries to refuse eating what they offer. I could easily ruin my testimony to those who would be hindered by my rude behavior within their culture.
Vs. 1, “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command.” Nadab and Abihu sinned against the LORD. Our God is a consuming fire. It is quite a contrast from the celebration just earlier with the glory of the LORD in the tabernacle. I’m reminded of that statement, “with great privilege brings great responsibility.” While they used an unauthorized fire source, there was more to it than this. It was not their responsibility, but their father Aaron’s. Much like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), this was a new beginning with God’s people. There needed to be a standard set that let the people know God was not one to be manipulated or disobeyed.
Regarding application…God Knows Our Hearts. Vs. 19, “Aaron replied to Moses, “Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, but such things as this have happened to me. Would the Lord have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today?” Though Aaron and his two other sons were not allowed to mourn outwardly the death of their family members (Nadab & Abihu), we see here the grace of God. They were supposed to have eaten the sin offering that was sacrificed (vs. 16-18). It was their way of grieving the loss. Grace was given to them that day. The point was made clearly and now it was time for the LORD through Moses to show grace. He knew their hearts. Take comfort in knowing that God sees both our actions and our hearts.
Vs. 23, “Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.” After the week long obedience at the entrance of the tent of meeting, Aaron and his sons were ready to begin serving the LORD! They were to offer a sin offering (purify the sanctuary) and a burnt offering at the inception. Notice how they had to offer sacrifices to cleanse themselves before they could help cleanse the people. Question: What was the purpose of the tabernacle? Remember, it was built for the LORD to show His people He was indeed with them, and subsequently be a place to bring glory to Him. This was a very exciting time for the people!
Regarding application…God’s Presence. Vs. 24, “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” God’s presence manifests itself in the glory of the LORD. There are times I am quite envious of the Israelites. They had the opportunity to see the glory of the LORD! There have been many times being in ministry when people have wondered, “Where is God?” Sure, there was an advantage for them, but there is also an advantage for us. “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit gives us a huge advantage compared to the Israelites. We are no longer bound by location. We can worship the LORD anywhere! His presence is always with us!
Vs. 4, “Moses did as the Lord commanded him, and the assembly gathered at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” The Israelite leaders gathered together with Moses to fulfill Exodus 29, the ordination of the Aaron and his sons into the priesthood. They were to be consecrated (set apart) for this very important duty to run the tabernacle sacrifices. How wonderful to see that it was the LORD who had instituted this special ordination process. Earlier, we were told the priests were to bathe once all over (Exodus 38), but then once doing their duties they were to wash their hands and feet at the laver. Jesus would refer to this in the washing of the disciples feet (John 13). The intricate details and special garments show us how the beauty of the Lord. Sacrifices were made and God would use this priestly office to help serve His people.
Regarding application…Atonement For You. Vs. 34, “What has been done today was commanded by the Lord to make atonement for you.” Let us not forget what Aaron had done while Moses was up on the mountain. He had allowed the people to make a golden calf (Exodus 32). Aaron had sinned. He dropped the ball. Would God replace Aaron’s intended position with someone else? Through this ordination process, atonement (compensation for wrong) was utilized for Aaron and his sons. Throughout the Bible, we see God’s grace and atonement extended to imperfect people. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, His blood and sacrifice on the cross atoned for our sins once and for all! With such an amazing reminder as we start out our day, let us reflect that atonement in our life!
Vs. 1, “These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy.” Our chapter continues the last two offerings: guilt and fellowship. While the earlier chapters discussed these offerings, they were to be addressed to the Israelites. The repeating of the offerings are directed toward the priests. The process of the sin/trespass offering (vs. 1-10) give us more insight when addressed to the priests. We also see how the priests were not only fed, but also got to keep the hides of the animals too (vs. 8). The last offering mentioned to the priests was the fellowship/peace offering (vs. 11-21). There are specific instructions as to when the offering could be consumed. One of the things that made this offering unique was that it allowed the Israelites, not just the priests to eat the fellowship offering and share it. We then get a bit more detail to the ban on eating fat and blood (vs. 22-27). And lastly, we see the portions that were to be allocated to the priests (vs. 28-36).
Regarding application…One Sacrifice. At the end of our chapter, we have one more offering added, the ordination offering which will be expounded upon in tomorrow’s chapter. The Israelites had six different sacrifices to keep a right standing before God. By the grace of God we have one final sacrifice. “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus was the great high priest and the sacrifice all in one. Question: How does that encourage us? Because, the pressure is off. We have the luxury to live a relationship with God without all the worries of ensuring the right offering was presented. When there is less pressure, I know I tend to perform better! Let’s not ever take for granted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins!