Numbers / Bemidbar 1:1 - 4:20
For the week of May 30, 1998
5 Sivan 5758

The Saved Ones

The Levites, however, are to set up their tents
around the tabernacle of the Testimony
so that wrath will not fall on the Israelite community
(Numbers / Bemidbar 1:54)

The story of the nation of Israel is one of God’s desire to make himself known. God chose Abraham in order that the all the peoples on earth will be blessed through him (see Genesis 12:3). The nation’s experiences and the revelations they received were for the purpose of restoring the relationship between mankind and our Creator lost in the Garden of Eden.

Similarly the Tabernacle, the tent-like structure and precursor to the Temple, illustrates in many ways God’s desire to be in right relationship with us. It represented the presence of God in the midst of the community.

While the tribes lived surrounding the Tabernacle, none of the tribes were stationed in its immediate proximity, except one, the tribe of Levi. The Levites had a special place in the life of the nation. They were the only ones permitted to live near the Tabernacle. They were the only ones allowed to fulfill the priestly duties and touch the holy articles. Thus they were the only ones permitted to come into the presence of God.

The special place they had in the life of the community was not because of anything they had done. Rather it was because of whom they represented. They represented the saved lives of all the firstborn of Israel:

The LORD also said to Moses, "I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether man or animal. They are to be mine. I am the LORD" (Numbers / Bemidbar 3:11-12).

On the first Passover night, the angel of death killed all the firstborn in the land, both humans and animals. It was only the placing of the lamb’s blood upon the doorways of the Israelites that kept the Angel of Death from also destroying their own first born. And so God set aside the Levites to represent these saved lives.

The Levites' place in the community as well as the other tribes' exclusion became a continual reminder of who is able to come before God. This distinction was not designed to show us that we must stay away from God and that we cannot come to him. On the contrary, through this we learn what it takes for us to come to God.

It is not by great accomplishment or some superior spirituality that enables one to come into God's presence. It is the experience of salvation that does it.

And this experience can be ours through Yeshua the Messiah:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:19-22).

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