From slaves to Soldiers

Chapter 8

Both the instillation of the lamps and the Levits threw light on the glory – or character – of Yahweh.

Yahweh told Moses to set up the tabernacle on the anniversary of their exit from Egypt. The narrator reminded the reader that the chest was to be placed in the room intended for it alone and the curtain was to screen it from the holy place where the table and lampstand with its seven lamps was to be positioned according to the plan so that it would throw light in front of the lampstand. Yeshua said the lampstands in John’s vision[1] were a “picture of the church; the church itself does not light the world, but it does provide a “platform” for Jesus’ light to be seen.”[2]

The lampstand was made of hammered gold from its stem to its petals just as Yahweh designed it. It was made of one seventy-five pound brick of gold in the shape of an almond tree. Yahweh is the almond tree of Israel. According to the Talmud it was about five and a forth feet tall and weighed nearly a hundred pounds. The stem with the seventh cup that fed the other six cups for light was a symbol of Yeshua who is “the Lord, our righteousness,” and Yahweh’s Branch. “Time’s coming”—God’s Decree— “when I’ll establish a truly righteous David-Branch, a ruler who knows how to rule justly. He’ll make sure of justice and keep people united. In his time Judah will be secure again and Israel will live in safety. This is the name they’ll give him: ‘God-Who-Puts-Everything-Right.’”[3]

The lampstand symbolized light, growth, and the Tree of Life. It was a picture of unity in plurality. The six branches with their cups facing toward the stem which supplied light for the others represent human inadequacy relying on our Savior for light and life.

There were 22 bowls holding oil for the candlestick. Each of the six branches had three and the stem had four.

Yahweh instructed Moses to make seven of these lampstands and position them to light the front. He said to make the instruments to use with the lampstands out of pure gold.  [4]

Immediately after reminding his reader about the lampstand, the narrator recorded the dedication of the tribe of Levi.

Yahweh told Moses to take the tribe of Levi[5] to Aaron so that they could help him. They were to work for Aaron and, through him, the whole congregation, doing the work of the Dwelling of the Tent of Meeting. The service of the Levites made the work of the priests possible, and had equal value in the eyes of Yahweh.

The Levites were also Yahweh’s special people taken from among his people to stand in for every firstborn son Yahweh reminded his people that when he killed all the firstborn in Egypt, he consecrated for his own use every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They belonged to him. And then he reminded his people who he is – Yahweh, the great I AM, reality behind all reality, the eternal Supreme Being, perfect, unique and, without equal.

All the Levites needed to be dedicated unto Yahweh. Practical service needs a heart of dedication and consecration too.

The ceremonial cleansing pictured a cleansing of sin. It was picture of the new covenant[6]  when Yahweh promised to sprinkle clean water on his people and make them clean.

Yahweh instructed Aaron, through Moses, to sprinkle water of absolution on them; and have them shave their entire bodies and scrub their clothes. “The idea was of a new start, of being made like a baby all over again – as in being born again.”[7]

The tribe of Levi was to bring the Grain Offering [8]of fine flower mixed with oil with the Whole Burnt Offering[9] and Absolution Offering[10].

Yahweh instructed Aaron, through Moses, to bring the Levites to the front of the Tent of Meeting and gather the entire community of Israel. Yahweh instructed Aaron to present the Levites to him as a Wave Offering[11]. The community of Israel was to lay their hands on the tribe of Levi as a symbol of their identity with the Levites and transferring the peculiar privilege of the firstborn sons from acting as Yahweh’s ministers to the Levitical tribe.

The Levits were to identify with the sacrifice of the bulls by laying their hands on the heads of the animals. Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament say, “By this imposition of hands they made the sacrificial animals their representatives, in which they presented their own bodies to the Lord as a living sacrifice well-pleasing to Him.[12]

The narrator said that this was the procedure for setting apart the Levites from the rest of the People of Israel; the Levites were exclusively for Yahweh’s use. When the ceremony was over the Levits were ready to go to work in the Tent of Meeting – functioning in place of every firstborn male born[13] to an Israelite woman. The narrator recounted the reason why the firstborn belonged to Yahweh. Since Yahweh is the Creator of every living being and we all owe our existence to him[14] but he gave us all the right to make our own decisions and order our lives after the pattern of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with him; or going our own way, making mistakes and living with the results of them. However, when he brought Israel out of Egypt and saved all the firstborn sons of his people, he set every firstborn son apart for his service. Then he took the tribe of Levi as stand-ins to take the place of the firstborn sons and gave them to Aaron and his sons to do all the work involved in the Tent of Meeting on behalf of the people of Israel.

The lampstand – the light – and the Levitt were both serving the tabernacle – the Dwelling place of Yahweh where he symbolically met with his people. Both represented the whole nation of Yahweh’s chosen people – Israel whose assignment it was to reflect Yahweh’s character to the world. The purpose of Yahweh’s chosen people was to demonstrate to the world what it means to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Creator and Sustainer of everything that is, was, or will ever be.

Yahweh gave Moses instructions for the age that the Levits were to start their service in the tabernacle and how long they would be allowed to serve. They were allowed to assist after the age of fifty but were retired from any physical toil.

 

Summary of chapter 8

David Guzik Commentary on the Bible says something like this: Lamps are placed on the lampstand but the lampstand by itself could give no light. It had to have lamps placed upon it that gave light. All the lampstand could do was make the light more visible. The lamps were fueled by oil; and would need to be continually filled with oil to provide constant light. The lamps and lampstand were made according to the pattern which Yahweh had shown Moses. The Levites were cleansed and sprinkled as Yahweh commanded. The water of purification was sprinkled on them and they shaved their bodies, washed their clothes, and made themselves clean, as Yahweh had commanded. Ceremonial cleansing pictured a cleansing of sin.

Then the Levites were dedicated through sacrifice. As a bull was sacrificed, the children of Israel lay their hands on the Levites, to bless them and pray for their dedication before the LORD. It would be clear both the Levites and the nation that the Levites were servants of both the LORD and the nation. They were presented as a wave offering – to Yahweh and essentially saying, “This is Yours, Yahweh.” The nation came before him, and essentially said, “These Levites belong to you, Yahweh.” Real ministry isn’t all about dedication ceremonies; it is about doing the work. After the dedication, it was time to get busy! The Levites were regarded as Israel’s firstborn given to Yahweh.

Thus Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel did to the Levites; according to all that Yahweh commanded Moses concerning the Levites. The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes; then Aaron presented them as a wave offering to Yahweh, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. After that the Levites went in to do their work in the tabernacle of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as Yahweh commanded Moses.

The Levite’s time of active service was to begin at age thirty and last until fifty according to Numbers 4:3; 23, 30. Yet their formal training began at age twenty-five, with a five year apprenticeship. Promised Land people must be cleansed, dedicated, and doing the work.[15]

 

Prayer: Yahweh, my God, Creator, and Sustainer; you are all powerful so I fear you. I am not afraid of you or apprehensive about you because you are love. You are righteous and I adore you. You are the source of all joy and peace and I rest in you. You require justice but you don’t leave me dangling about what justice is. You listed your requirements for living a just and holy life and demonstrated how I can live that way. Your love for others compels me to love others in turn. I see your beauty in the sky, the earth, and the sea. I hear your voice in the wind, as well as the gentle breeze. I smell your essence in the flowers and the barnyard alike. You are the God of my Salvation and the Love of my Life. I am yours to serve because you have a right to require my service and because you gave me the right to choose whether I want to or not. I would rather know your love shovel your stables than live in a mansion without you. Anywhere without you is Hell – dark, cruel, pitiless, and cold. Hold me close from here to eternity.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. How do you think the lampstand and Levites both threw light on the character of Yahweh?
  2. Why did Yeshua tell John that the lampstand in his vision was the church?
  3. Why do you thing Moses mentioned here that the lampstand was made of hammered gold?
  4. What was Yahweh talking about when he said he would establish a truly righteous branch?
  5. Why were there seven lampstands? Why were six of the branches fed by the seventh? What truth do you think the ancient Israelites saw in the lampstand? What truth do you see in it?
  6. Why do you think the ancient compilers separated the scriptures the way they did – keeping the instructions for the lampstand with the instructions for the dedication opf the Levites?
  7. Why do you think the Levites shaved themselves when they washed their clothes for their dedication ceremony?
  8. What was the significance of the Levites taking the place of the firstborn sons?
  9. Who were the Levites set aside to serve? How does their service relate to you and me?
  10. How did their preparation illustrate our service to our God, Yahweh today?
  11. Why did those representing the whole nation of Israel place their hands on those representing the tribe of Levi during the dedication?
  12. Why was the service of the tribe of Levi important?

 

 

[1] Revelation 1:20

[2] https://enduringword.com/commentary/numbers-8/

[3] Jeramiah 23:5, 6

[4] Exodus 40, Out of Bondage by Allison Kohn, page 197, 198, 337

[5]  See chapter three. The firstborn of every tribe were to be “priests” of a sort but a hereditary priesthood from the family of Aaron was established and the Levites were formally set apart after the incident with the golden calf idol that the Israelites made while Moses was on the mountain top with Yahweh. The Levites didn’t take part in the idolatry, and actually killed 3,000 of those who were running wild. Exodus 32:25-29. Moses told the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of The Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, that he may bestow a blessing upon you this day.” Moses himself was from the tribe of Levi.  http://www.keyway.ca/htm2002/levites.htm

[6] Ezekiel 36:25

[7] https://enduringword.com/commentary/numbers-8/

[8] When someone was accepted through the burnt offering they could respond in gratitude through a grain offering  – a handful was burned and the priests ate the rest. It was a gift to Yahweh from the best of the worshipper’s agricultural produce in an act of thanksgiving for sins forgiven.

[9] It satisfied Yahweh’s wrath against injustice and made fellowship possible between a holy God and a sinful person.

[10] forgiveness from unintentional sins and of cleansing from ceremonial uncleanness

[11] The priest’s portion of the peace offering was waved before the Lord as a special act signifying that it was his. Leviticus 7:30-31.

[12]http://biblehub.com/commentaries/numbers/8-19.htm

[13] Chapter 3

[14] This doesn’t mean our God, Yahweh, has a particular gender or sex – I simply refuse to call a being as important as Yahweh “it”

[15] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/numbers-8.html

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