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What the Bible says about Levites
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Numbers 3:12-13

Originally, it appears that God set apart all firstborn children as His to be used in His service. When He instituted the Levitical priesthood, however, He substituted Levite priests for His service in place of the firstborn of the other tribes.

Staff
The Law of the Firstborn

Numbers 16:6-7

This is an inter-family squabble, mostly an argument among Levites, headed by a grandson of Kohath, Korah. Moses puts the blame squarely on the ones who were in charge. These Levites thought they had been kept out of the good positions. Their job was to take down the Tabernacle, cart it off, and do other physical labors, while Aaron's family got to be priests.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness

Deuteronomy 12:5-6

Moses addresses Deuteronomy 12 to Israel on the east side of the Jordan River. He tells them that, instead of having altars and high places throughout the country, they should bring their required and free-will offerings, other sacrifices, firstlings, and tithes (plural in verses 6, 11) to the place where God put His name. There, the people were to eat before Him.

The second tithe here is in addition to the tithe commanded in Numbers 18. It was to be eaten by the individual Israelite, but not at home ("not . . . within your gates," Deuteronomy 12:17). This tithe was not to come out of the first tithe, because the latter was the Levites' inheritance. The Levites lived off the first tithe in all their cities throughout the year. Therefore, the first tithe that they normally lived on cannot have been the second tithe that God forbids all to eat in their homes. The Bible nowhere states that the Levite had to bring a special tithe to eat at the feasts (such as the Feast of Tabernacles). The people were to bring it. Verse 18 specifically states that the Levite should also eat of the second tithe where the Lord chose to place His name (see Numbers 18:21-24).

In Deuteronomy 12:11, the plural usage shows that Moses distinctly refers to more than one tithe. Deuteronomy 14:23 uses "tithe" in the singular because the passage describes only the specific tithe that we are to consume where God places His name.

Martin G. Collins
Tithing: Second Tithe

1 Chronicles 13:9-11

I Chronicles 13:1-3 introduces an episode containing a presumptuous act, immediately followed by a sobering display of divine justice. However, this time, one of the most respected names in Israelite history is directly involved. It is the story of Uzza's sudden death while moving the Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred and revered of Israelite objects. The Ark, representing the throne of God and containing the tablets of stone Moses received from God on Mount Sinai, normally resided in the Holy of Holies.

David desired to move the Ark to Jerusalem to continue to consolidate the kingdom under himself. As they were moving it on an oxcart, the oxen stumbled, and the Ark appeared to be toppling to the ground. Uzza, in what may have been pure reflex, put out his hand to steady the Ark, but upon touching it, he was immediately struck dead (verses 9-10)! At first, David was angry that God ruined his party (verses 8, 11) - as the whole atmosphere of the Ark's transfer was celebratory - but shortly after, he became extremely fearful (verse 12).

The Bible shows God to be longsuffering and slow to anger. Why did they not hear His voice from heaven saying, "Thank you, Uzza, for keeping the Ark from getting damaged and dirty"? Instead, He exploded in anger and slew Uzza on the spot! However, God had given strict instructions for transporting the Ark, found in Numbers 4:4, 15, 17-20:

This is the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of meeting, relating to the most holy things: . . . And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These are the things in the tabernacle of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry. . . . Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: "Do not cut off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites; but do this in regard to them, that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy things; Aaron and his sons shall go in and appoint each of them to his service and his task. But they shall not go in to watch while the holy things are being covered, lest they die."

The Bible nowhere indicates that Uzza was a Kohathite. If he was, what God did is even more understandable. Everyone in the whole procedure from David on down was guilty of disobeying God's instructions regarding the most holy things. David failed to consult with the High Priest - or any priest, for that matter - regarding how the Ark should be moved. Evidently, no priest protested that proper procedures were not being followed.

The Kohathites were not even supposed to look on the uncovered Ark. To God, when Uzza reached out and touched the Ark as it seemed about to topple off the cart, it was no act of heroism but the final act of desecration, arrogance, and presumption. The last thing presumed was that Uzza's hand was less defiling than the earth that he feared would contaminate the Ark.

God's instruction in Exodus 20:24-25 regards building Him an altar. An altar made for His worship had to be constructed of earth or unhewn stones. No altar defiled by man's sinful hand was suitable. Dirt cannot sin; it always follows the nature God established. God did not want the symbol of His throne contaminated by the evil that manifested itself in a whole string of rebellions against His specific instructions. There was nothing arbitrary, capricious, or whimsical in God's action.

Jesus teaches us to address God as "Father," a title suggesting familiarity, yet we are also to pray, "Hallowed be Your name." God shows in these two incidents that, if reverence is due to the symbols used in His worship, how much greater reverence must be given to the realities of the New Covenant?

Those involved in this incident were well-intentioned, but it illustrates for all generations that God still requires conformity with His directives concerning holy objects. Deviation from orthodoxy can be deadly.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice (Part Two)

2 Chronicles 19:5-9

Jehoshaphat made a series of reforms in Judah regarding judging that touch on New Testament applications. He charged the judges to fear God and to realize that their judgments were not for man but for the Lord. He furthermore charged the Levites that they were also to judge in the fear of the Lord and to do so faithfully with a perfect heart.

This is important considering our calling. Revelation 5:10 tells us we will become kings and priests. I Corinthians 6:2 clearly states, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" The context involves settling disputes between church members. Christians, other than the ministry, must judge!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction

Luke 10:31-32

Supposedly, the priest served God and His law, which encourages mercy. He professed his love for God and human beings, and he prayed several times a day. This spiritual leader, one of 12,000 priests living in Jericho at that time, had left service to God back at the Temple, having neither time nor compassion for his neighbor (II Timothy 3:1-5). The priest knew that God's law endorses loving God and neighbor, yet he failed to put his faith into action (I Timothy 6:18; Titus 1:16; James 2:14-17).

The Levite was of the same tribe as the priest but of one of the inferior branches. As a servant of the Temple, a custodian of religious worship, and an interpreter of the law, he should also have been eager to assist the battered man. These two spiritual leaders should have been the first to apply their faith in God by aiding the beaten traveler, yet Jesus must rebuke the heartless and unkind spirit of their form of religion. Both men ignore God's instruction by neglecting the intent of His law.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Good Samaritan

Galatians 3:16-17

Ceremonies identified Israel as a nation that was in the world but separate from all the other nations. It played a part in driving the Gentiles up the wall and building barriers between them.

What makes the spiritual family that God is drawing us into separate and distinct from the world? God makes it clear: It is the way we live, not ceremonies or rituals! Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:53).

God insured that the ceremonies could not be performed. He allowed the Temple and the altar to be destroyed, and scattered the Levites all over the world. Those three things were necessary for making sacrifices. In order to get the focus away from the nation of Israel and the Old Covenant, God made sure that they could not make those sacrifices. (1) They had to be made at the Temple. (2) They had to be made on one altar. And (3) it had to be done by the Levites, and, specifically, the family of Aaron.

God got that out of the way because He wants people to focus on the way His children live! And His children live according to His law. If you do away with His law, you cannot live according to His law. You cannot show the characteristics of God unless you know the way that He lives, and He lives according to His law, which describes Him.

Though God no longer requires ceremonies, this in no way means that the spiritual intent of those ceremonies is done away. Though we are no longer required to cut an animal's throat, bleed its blood out, and burn it on an altar—the intent, the stretching out of those principles, still applies.

Thus, Jesus said in Matthew 18:9, "If your eye offend you, pluck it out." Jesus requires sacrifices so that we do not sin. Paul also said, "Put to death therefore your members which are on earth" (Colossians 3:5). He restates this in Romans 12:1 and Ephesians 5:2.

The principle of sacrifice remains. This is why Jesus could say that not one jot or tittle of that law would pass until all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18). In the book of Galatians, the laws of God are hardly even in question except as they pertain to justification. Those laws that define sin, which guide us in the way of God, are just as binding as they ever have been, and they will remain so because God is using them to prepare us to live at one with Him and His Family.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Seven)


Find more Bible verses about Levites:
Levites {Nave's}
 




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