The Lord ordained that all the men among the tribe of Levi who were between 30 and 50 years old were to be employed in the service of the Tabernacle. This teaches us that the service of God requires the best of our strength, and the prime portion of our time – which cannot be better spent than to the honor of Him Who is the First and Best. Our service for the Lord should be done when we are the most lively and active. Alas! So many people do not consider this; for they put off repentance until old age, and thus they leave the best and most important work of their life to be done in the worst time.
The Levites who were descendants of Levi’s son Kohath were given the responsibility of carrying the holy things of the Tabernacle – including even the Ark of the Covenant itself! It was dangerous to go into the Holy of Holies, for God had commanded that this should only be done once a year – and even then, only by the High Priest, with blood and burning incense. This represented our glorious High Priest entering in once into the Holy Place that was not made with hands, appearing there in the presence of the Father on our behalf. But since the people of God were in the wilderness at this time, and the Ark of the Covenant was dwelling between curtains, it was necessary that the Ark had to be moved whenever Israel journeyed from place to place. Therefore, a special provision was made so that the Kohathites could minister in this sacred duty, and not be exposed to danger. All the holy furniture in the Tabernacle was to be covered – not only for security and respect, but also to keep them from being seen by the eyes of those who were not allowed to do so. This not only showed the reverence that is due to holy things; but it also showed the mystery of the things that were symbolized by those pictures and foreshadows, as well as the darkness of those times before the Gospel-light made all things plain. But now, through Christ, the case is altered; and we are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace!
The responsibilities of the other two families of Levites were not quite as honorable as those of the Kohathites; yet they were just as necessary, and they were to be done regularly. The Gershonites were given charge of all the curtains of the Tabernacle and its courtyard. All the things that they were to handle were described to them by name – showing us the great care with which the Lord takes of His Church and every member in it. The act of taking down of the Tabernacle represented the death of the saints (2 Cor. 5:1; 2 Pet. 1:14); but on that Great Last Day, our bodies (which are expressly called the temples of the Holy Spirit) will be resurrected without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (1 Cor. 15:42-44), and we shall dwell forever with our Lord! And was not the numbering of the Levites who ministered in this Tabernacle service an emblem of Jesus’ numbering of His people, and calling them all by name? (John 10:3)
In the Tabernacle ministry, all the Levites were to have their distinct and separate work, so that all things might be done decently and in order. The Merarites were responsible for handling the boards, bars, pillars, and other pieces that made up the framework of the Tabernacle and the “walls” of the courtyard. We remember that the curtains of the Tabernacle were supported by this framework. But how sweet is it for the true believer in Jesus to observe that He – and He alone – has completed the work, finished the labor, and has the care of all His people! It is He Who carries the weight of the curtains of the Tabernacle of the true sanctuary, which the Lord has pitched, and not Man. And also, as the prophet beautifully expresses it, all the glory of the Father’s house is hung upon Him! O precious God of all our mercies! Be to us like a nail that is fastened in a sure place, and be a glorious throne to all Your people (Isaiah 22:23).
Lord Jesus, You are indeed the true Tabernacle; for by Your precious undertaking, You have opened a new and living way for us in Your blood and righteousness. And oh! What an inconceivable weight of glory will break in upon the soul when the earthly tabernacle of our bodies shall be taken down, and You shall again raise it up again as a glorified body like Your own! Dearest Savior, be our joy – by faith – as long as we live on this earth; and then – by sight – You will be our everlasting light and glory. Amen.
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