Daily Family Worship

Numbers 8: The Levites’ Purification

by | May 1, 2022

numbers 8

This chapter, just like the last one, occurred shortly after the setting up and sanctification of the Tabernacle in the first month of the second year after the Hebrews came out of Egypt. Here we read of Aaron lighting the lamps of the golden lampstand inside the Tabernacle. However, there are also things of a spiritual nature that are veiled in these verses. Are not the seven lamps a picture of the Holy Spirit’s influence, which is described in the book of Revelation, and referred to as “the seven spirits of God”? The number seven does not imply a plurality in the Person of the Holy Spirit, as to His nature; rather, it simply shows that there is a diversity in His gifts, operations, and influences (1 Cor. 12:4-11). But this is not all which is hidden within the picture of the golden lampstand! Are not the lamps themselves also emblems of the Word of God? (Ps. 119:105; Prov. 6:23). And we may also observe that those lamps were intended to “give light over against the candlestick” – that is, they were to shine their light on what stood across the room from the candlestick, which was the showbread table. Just as the showbread was a picture of our blessed Jesus, Who is the true Bread of Life (John 5:39); so also, the Scriptures are like the lamps of the Tabernacle –shining their light “across the room,” so to speak, and all pointing to Him! And just as all seven lamps lighted up the showbread; so also, the Holy Spirit – in all of His different offices – points to our Savior (John 16:14).

The majority of this chapter records the Lord’s directions for the solemn ordination of the Levites to their position of service in the Tabernacle – to which they had been appointed in chapter 3, when they became substitutes in the place of all the firstborn of Israel. The people were made to know that the Levites did not take this honor to themselves, for they were called by God to serve Him. Just like the Levites, all God’s people are dedicated to Him; our entire selves must be given unto the Lord, and then our services as well.

Those who bear the vessels of the Lord must be clean, so Moses sprinkled water of purification upon the Levites. This represents the application of the blood of Christ to our souls by faith, so that we may be fit to serve the living God. These men were obliged to shave off all their hair, in order to remove all defilement that would not wash off; and they also washed their clothes. The great pains that they took to make themselves clean teaches all Christians that we must be cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh. Nothing except Jesus’ blood can cleanse us from sin, and nothing except the water of regeneration of the Holy Spirit can renew our fallen nature (Ezek. 36:25-27; Titus 3:4-6).

The Levites were then brought before the Lord, in the presence of a solemn assembly of all the people, who were “presenting” them to God as living sacrifices – holy and acceptable – to perform reasonable service. And therefore, as the offerors of sacrifices did in all other cases, the people laid their hands upon the Levites – desiring that their service might be accepted in lieu of the service of the firstborn of all the people. Of course, all the children of Israel could not physically lay their hands on the Levites; so it is probable that the rulers and elders did it, as representatives of all the people. Or perhaps the firstborn of Israel did it, because it was in their place that the Levites were consecrated to God. Whatever the Lord asks from us, to serve His own glory by – we must cheerfully resign it, lay our hands upon it, surrender it, and let it go to Him Who is entitled to have it.

Sacrifices were also offered for the Levites – a sin offering first, and then a burnt offering, to make atonement for them. Let us remember that we are all utterly unworthy and unfit to be admitted into and employed in the service of God, until atonement is made for our sins – thereby making our peace with Him. That interposing cloud of sin must be dispelled before there can be any comfortable communion between the Lord and our souls. And let us not forget that it is by sacrifice – that is, by Christ, the Great Sacrifice – that we are reconciled to God and made fit to be offered in service to Him.

God declares His acceptance of the Levites with the words of verse 14: “The Levites shall be mine.” He took them into His Tabernacle-service instead of the firstborn of all the Israelites. We may rest assured that whatever is offered to God in sincerity shall be graciously acknowledged and accepted by Him! However, all those whom God acknowledges, He also employs. Even His angels have work to do. On the one hand, none of God’s creatures are His necessary servants, for He does not need the service of any of them; yet on the other hand, none are taken merely as honorary servants, to sit around and do nothing. If we expect to share in the privileges of the Lord, we must resolve to do the service of the Lord.

O blessed, glorious Redeemer! You are both the light and the life of Your people. From You and Your precious influence, all the lights of Your Temple derive their luster. By You, they shine; for You, they minister; and to Your glory, they serve. Lord! To our dark and benighted hearts, communicate the rays of Your grace. Shine, precious Jesus, on our cold and lifeless souls; and warm our frozen affections. Be our everlasting light and glory! Amen.

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illustration from George Bush (1796-1859)