208 – Numbers 18 – It is on you
Numbers eighteen opens with an unusual scene. Yahweh addresses Aaron directly without going through Moses.
18:1 Then the LORD said to Aaron: “You and your sons and your father’s house with you shall bear the iniquity related to the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity associated with your priesthood.
Remember Moses’ initial encounter with Yahweh God? Moses complains that he’s not really a public speaker and God assigns Aaron to Moses.
15 Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do.
16 So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God.
The usual modus operandi was that God would speak to Moses and Moses would then pass on to Aaron anything he needed to know. Or God would speak to both Moses and Aaron at the same time.
I’m not going to pretend to know why Yahweh skipped Moses and spoke directly to Aaron in Numbers 18:1, so hold this observation lightly. In reading what God says to Aaron in this chapter I wonder if speaking directly to Aaron underscores God’s message. Aaron, the sanctuary and the priesthood is your responsibility! This is between you and Me [Yahweh] If there is any sin related to either it’s on you! Moses won’t bail you out.
What could iniquity related to the sanctuary be indicating? The Faithlife Study Bible suggests the following.
Numbers 18:1 the guilt of the sanctuary If the sanctity of the sanctuary or priesthood is compromised, Aaron and his household (the priests) will be held responsible. The same idea is found in Exod 28:38 and Lev 22:15–16.
Barry, John D. et al. Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016. Print.
This seems to make sense as we read further into the chapter.
2 Also bring with you your brethren of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you while you and your sons are with you before the tabernacle of witness.
3 They shall attend to your needs and all the needs of the tabernacle; but they shall not come near the articles of the sanctuary and the altar, lest they die—they and you also.
4 They shall be joined with you and attend to the needs of the tabernacle of meeting, for all the work of the tabernacle; but an outsider shall not come near you.
I should point out that most often the concept of an “outsider” is a non-Hebrew visitor or proselyte. However, here the “outsider” is anyone not from the tribe of Levi as specified in verse two.
5 And you shall attend to the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar, that there may be no more wrath on the children of Israel.
Verse five is easy to understand if we keep it in the context of the last couple of chapters where the children of Israel indeed did suffer Yahweh’s wrath. Here God affirms Aaron and underscores the importance of Aaron fulfilling his calling. Aaron’s actions don’t just affect Aaron, they also affect the whole nation of Israel.
6 Behold, I Myself have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel; they are a gift to you, given by the LORD, to do the work of the tabernacle of meeting.
7 Therefore you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything at the altar and behind the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood to you as a gift for service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death.”
Yahweh recognized the duties of the tabernacle were more than one man could handle. So the tribe of Levi was identified as a gift to Aaron – a gift for service. This reminds me of James chapter one.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
So let me ask you a question. As we have been looking at these few verses what was your perception of Yahweh God? Did you see Him as a strict and God leaving very little or no room for mistakes? Or did you see Him as a loving God who prescribes service to Him and provides gifts to us that we may use in service to Him?
The more I study the book of Numbers the more I see how intimately acquainted Yahweh is with every detail of our lives. He tells us what He requires of us, then in His goodness, He provides what we need to accomplish that which He asks of us!
I hope you see that God is an amazing God worthy of all praise and worship.
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.