I’ve never done a study on it, but I often think there’s gotta be a link intended between the tribe of Levi and the bride of Christ. That the Levites of the Old Testament foreshadow something of what is to characterize the disciples of the New Testament.
For example, the tribe of Levi was to source and support the Old Testament priesthood. Aaron, the first high priest, was born of the tribe of Levi (Ex. 6:19-20), and the rest of the Levites were told to serve Aaron in the duties of the priesthood (Num. 3:6). As for the church? Well, Peter says that we are “a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 2:5). So you gotta think that in looking at the ancient Levites you’re gonna find pictures and types concerning modern day disciples.
Here’s one I’m noodling on this morning . . .
“Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine. And after that the Levites shall go in to serve at the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and offered them as a wave offering. For they are wholly given to Me from among the people of Israel. Instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for Myself.”
(Numbers 8:14-16 ESV)
The Levites were to be consecrated to God. Sanctified, set apart as different from the rest of Israel in service to God by guarding, transporting, and assisting in the offerings of the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God. Regarded as holy because of their association with the Holy and called to be devoted to serving the Holy in holy spaces. Okay, I get that.
But what I’m chewing on this morning is were the Levites really “wholly given” to God, or did God actually “take them” for Himself? My initial reaction is that if ownership over something has already been claimed, then can it really be given? Or, if something’s been given without reservation, is there really anything left to be taken? Wholly given to God, or taken by God for Himself. Which is it?
Given or taken? Yes. Not an either/or thing, but a both/and thing.
God had claimed the Levites for Himself in place of His right to the firstborn from every family in Israel (to understand more of the why, keep reading Numbers 8:17-18). He took them. Carved them out from the other tribes. Gave them a unique job description within the Hebrew economy. Provided them special, high clearance access to holy places and holy practices. Kept them from owning any land in Canaan as a daily reminder for them that He alone was their inheritance. They were taken. Make no mistake about it. They were no longer their own but belonged to Another.
Yet, they were to be wholly given. Considered as such by their brother tribes, presented as such by themselves. All in. Fully vested. Devoted. Having been set apart by God, they were to set themselves apart for God. Having been called into holy service, they were to show up ready to wholly serve. Assigned duties associated with the place where God’s presence dwells, they were to present themselves duly, ready to serve fully in God’s power.
Give and take. They were to passionately give of their own what God had purposed to take for His own.
Kind of like the church? I’m thinkin’ . . .
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.
(1Cor. 6:19b-20a ESV)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
(1Peter 2:9 ESV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
(Romans 12:1 ESV)
Not our own. Bought with a price. Taken as His own possession. Called upon to give our whole being as a living sacrifice.
Give and take.
By His grace. For His glory.