"For they [Levites] are the ones from among Bnei-Yisrael given to Me in place of all the first from wombs of Bnei-Yisrael. I have taken them for Myself. For every firstborn from Bnei-Yisrael is Mine, whether human or animal. On the day I struck down the firstborn of the land of Egypt, I sanctified them for Myself. So I am taking the Levites in place of the firstborn of Bnei-Yisrael, and I am giving the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among Bnei-Yisrael, to do the work on behalf of Bnei-Yisrael in the Tent of Meeting, and to make atonement for them -- so that there would be no more plague among them for coming too close to the Sanctuary." -- Numbers 8:16-19 TLV
This parsha deals with a lot of topics, but the one I have been most focused on is the dedication of the firstborn and the Levites in lieu. A few weeks ago, I wrote that this, in part, showed us the principle of redemption. Yes, it showed this, but it was not the reason why the Levites were chosen. The Levites were chosen because they did not partake in the golden calf worship and when Moses came off the mountain to call those on the Lord's side to stand before Him, all of the Levites came. The Lord took them as a firstfruit rather than the firstborn of Israel -- a pattern we see in others like Esau and Jacob, Reuben and Judah, Adam and Messiah...
From what I have observed from much of Christianity, there seems to be a belief that God still has taken a kingdom of priests in lieu of the firstborn Israel, but would not say that these "priests" have to be Levites, but rather are the church, in what is more commonly known as replacement theology. This comes from not laying the foundation, which is Torah, before we study the New Testament.
If we study Torah, we understand that all priests are Levites, and all Levites are Israelites; but not all "Israel" are Levites, and not all Levites are priests, which means that not all Israel are priests. There are levels of intimacy and levels of set-apartness that distinguish them.
The wilderness set up of the tabernacle and the Levitical laws of the Torah, shows us that there are levels of intimacy and levels of set-apartness. The event that lead to the Levites in lieu of the firstborn (Exodus 32:26), proved that the Levites desired God. They had set themselves apart from their fellow brothers' strange worship, and showed desire to be intimate with the Lord. Hence, their level of intimacy and required set-apartness was above the rest of the tribes, not merely out of law but out of desire as we saw in the golden calf incident.
Their reward was the Lord Himself, and yes this meant forsaking physical possession in this world (Numbers 18:24, Deuteronomy 10:9). I have to go through the identity of the Levite with you because there is a mixture in the faith of people claiming to be a priest for the Kingdom of YHWH, and even though all Levites are not at priests, all priests are Levites and the laws regarding Levites are not only applicable to priests, but even more laws of set-apartness ... and yet we are seeing a modern day "kingdom of priests" rejecting the laws the Levites once desired for intimacy with the Lord, and rejecting its order altogether (even though we see its restoration in the future temple as foretold by the prophets).
This twofold choosing -- God choosing them and them choosing God -- came with privileges. They camped within the courtyard, and they took the position of firstborn as they were presented as a firstfruit. Compare...
Have the Levites stand before Aaron and his sons and present them as a wave offering to Adonai. -- Numbers 8:13
"Speak to Bnei-Yisrael and tell them: When you have come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you are to bring the omer of the firstfruits of your harvest to the kohen. He is to wave the omer before Adonai, to be accepted for you. On the morrow after the Shabbat, the kohen is to wave it." -- Leviticus 23:10-11
Are we willing, Beloved Reader, to be without earthen inheritance as sojourners of this world, and to forsake foreign worship? Let us remember that worshiping of gold and animals was of pagan origin, and yet in our churches across the Western world we see pagan worship within, certainly foreign to the Torah of God. We have congregations full of golden calves and strange fire. The Torah shows us that a priest of YHWH cannot be made of such a congregation! In fact, such a congregation is like the madness of the world today, identifying with something they simply are not.
May the Lord find of you, not one grieved by the commandments (I John 5:3), but one desiring to be set-apart because you desire intimacy with your Maker and truly finds their identity in Him. And how else, Believers, can we identify Him if not by His Torah?
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