166 – Numbers – Chapter 8 – In Service
As I write about the Bible I sometimes feel like I don’t really spend enough time really digging into the text. Although this is the 38th devotional I’ve written in the book of Numbers, we are just now going to finish chapter eight, and yet there is so very much fruit still left on the tree! However, I am not discouraged, quite to the contrary I am very encouraged! This is just one more evidence to me that no matter how much time we spend in the Word of God we will never fully realize all that it contains.
In our trek through chapter 8, let’s look at the last four verses.
23 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
24 “This is what pertains to the Levites: From twenty-five years old and above one may enter to perform service in the work of the tabernacle of meeting;
25 and at the age of fifty years they must cease performing this work, and shall work no more.
26 They may minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of meeting, to attend to needs, but they themselves shall do no work. Thus you shall do to the Levites regarding their duties.”
Have you ever noticed that sometimes you read a passage in the Bible and it seems so complicated you’re not sure even the scholars could possibly understand it, then you encounter a passage that seems so simple and the meaning so obvious that it hardly warrants a glance?
If you were asked to put Numbers 8:23-26 into one of those two categories, which would you choose? It’s my guess that if you picked, “hardly warrants a glance”, you’d be in the majority, and maybe you’d be right.
Even so, I think we should pause just long enough to see if there is anything here that would influence our overall understanding of the scriptures.
Let’s summarize. Yahweh tells Moses, When a Levite male turns twenty-five years old he may enter the tabernacle in order to serve. So it says “may enter” does that mean they have a choice whether or not they will serve? Nope. Other places in the scripture tell us if you are a Levite your service is compulsory! What “may enter” means is a Levite below the age of twenty-five years old was barred from entry just like the rest of the tribes in the Nation of Israel. At twenty-five they have access.
Not unlike the modern-day person being enlisted in the military, the Levite’s time for serving in the tabernacle was clearly defined. Start at twenty-five, and according to verse 25 end at age fifty. They no longer perform tabernacle duties after age fifty, however, they can minister to the other Levites who are still in tabernacle service.
You might respond, “ok, but so what? Why should I care?”
To that, I would give two answers. First of all, we have this modern-day saying, “the devil is in the details”, I know what it means, but I hate the phrase! Reading and studying the Bible makes it clear that God is in the details. God did not say to Moses, “how about if we meet on a regular basis? You know you, me, Aaron, the Priests, and all the people. Pick a place and I’ll be there. I’ll just leave the details up to you.”
In effect God said, I’ll meet with you in a tent. Here’s exactly how I want you to construct the tent, here’s exactly the people involved, and here’s exactly what they must do. By the way, deviating from my instructions will cost the offender his life (remember Aaron’s sons).
Secondly, I would answer the “why should I care” question with, “consider Jesus”. The Bible clearly states in multiple places that Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi, yet He is our High Priest! He’s a Priest like Melchizedek, not like the Levitical Priest. Just think, if Jesus would have been a Levite He could not have had an earthly ministry! He entered His earthly ministry at age 30 and went to the cross at age 33. He would have had to be in temple service!
As an aside, the priesthood age changed at some point for some reason. The Old Testament makes reference to the Priesthood beginning both at age 25 and age 30. Maybe we’ll peek at that another time. In the meantime, if you’re so inclined do your own study.
As the last four verses in Numbers chapter 8 clearly indicate even the most simple detail can have a major impact elsewhere in the Word of God. God is clearly worthy of praise and should be thanked over and over for giving us His Holy Word!