“But I have taken the Levites instead of every firstborn among the sons of Israel.” (Numbers 8:18, NASB95)
In Numbers 8, the Lord gives cleansing instructions for the Levitical Priest. The Levite was the modern-day equivalent of the Deacon in many protestant churches. His role was a servant roll, assisting the Aaronic Priests in the daily duties of the Temple. Before he began his service, he was to be externally cleansed (Numbers 6:6-7), which included a ritual bathing, clean clothes, and complete shaving of the body. He was then to be presented before the congregation “as a wave offering from the sons of Israel.” Israel was literally giving the Levite to the Lord in place of the firstborn. The Levites were to be “wholly given” to the Lord and to be sanctified for the Lord (Numbers 8:16-17). After their external cleansing and their public presentation, they were to bring a blood sacrifice to the Lord because, as imperfect people, they needed an atoning sacrifice for their sins. Thus they were externally, internally, and publicly cleansed and committed to the Lord.
The name “Levi” means “joined together” and comes from the Hebrew word for “borrowed.” The Levite was literally joined together, being borrowed from the Lord, for the service of the Tabernacle.
Today we do not have a priesthood. There is no requirement for the firstborn. No sacrifices are made in the Tabernacle. Nonetheless, we can give ourselves wholly–externally, internally, publicly–to God for the service of His Son.
In His Grace;
Dr. Randy White
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