Aaryn’s rod had budded, blossomed, and bore fruit to establish his authority. The flip side of authority is responsibility so Yahweh gave Aaron and his sons the responsibility of taking care of the sins having to do with the Sanctuary and priesthood. He told Aaron and his sons that they were accountable to him.
Aaron and his sons were instructed to enlist the men of the tribe of Levi to help them and report to the priests as they did their duties about the tent. They were not to have anything to do with the holy things of the Altar and Yahweh warned them that if the priests sanctioned or solicited assistance with the holy things they would both die. No outsider was allowed to help the priests with any of their work. Yahweh told Aaron that – without question – it was his job to take care of the Sanctuary and Altar. He reminded Aaron that he had personally picked the Levites from the rest of the tribes to help the priests. They were Yahweh’s gift to Aaron and his sons to help with the work of the Tent of Meeting. Then Yahweh repeated that only Aaron and his sons were to serve as priests and work around the Altar and inside the curtain. Yahweh told Aaron that the work of the priesthood was his exclusive gift to Aaron. Yahweh repeated all these instructions to Aaron so no one would try to appropriate his position for their self again and die in the attempt. Yahweh is not a man-made god and the priesthood wasn’t a man-made institution up for grabs by anyone with enough clout. Sovereigns appointed priests in the ancient Near East and Yahweh was establishing the fact that he alone was sovereign over Israel. He had taken his chosen people out of Egypt and had to take Egypt out of his people.
Yahweh reminded Aaron that he was not only in charge of all the holy gifts from the people of Israel but he was also to use them as his own. Whatever wasn’t totally burned up on the altar was to be for him and his children forever – the leftovers from Grain-Offerings, Absolution-Offerings, and Compensation-Offerings. It was the choice portion of the meat and the priest was to eat it reverently because it was most holy; every male could eat it but the priests were to remember that it was holy. They were to remember that they were sharing a meal with Yahweh. Yahweh reminded Aaron that all the wave offerings were his gift to Aaron and his family – male and female alike – anyone who was ritually clean. Yahweh also gave Aaron and his family all the best olive oil, the best new wine, and the grain that was offered to him – Yahweh – as the firstfruits of their harvest. Anyone in Aaron’s household who was ritually clean could eat it.
Aaron and his sons were also to get every totally devoted gift and the redemption price of the firstborn. Yahweh reminded Aaron that humans and ritually clean animals were to be redeemed when they were a month old. The priests were not to redeem the firstborn ox, sheep, or goat. Their blood was to be splashed on the Altar and their fat burned as a fire gift to Yahweh. The priests were to get the meat in the same way they got the breast and right thigh from the wave offering. These offerings that Yahweh gave to Aaron and his family were a Covenant of Salt and unchangeable before Yahweh. A “covenant of salt” was understood in ancient nations to be ceaseless and indissoluble. The covenant was confirmed by a meal shared by the two parties. Salt was a very valuable and important part of the meal.
Yahweh told Aaron that he and his descendants or any of the tribe of Levi wouldn’t get even a small plot of land for an inheritance. Yahweh was the inheritance of the priests among the chosen people. The tithes and offerings of the people of Israel were to belong to the Levites as payment for the work they did in the Tent of Meeting.
Yahweh made the Levites responsible for keeping others from wandering in and out of the Tent of Meeting. Yahweh was teaching his people to value the Tent of Meeting which represented his Presence.
Yahweh told Moses to instruct the Levites that when they got the tithe from the other tribes, they were to give back 10% as an offering to the priests. Their offerings were to be treated the same as other people’s gifts of grain from the threshing floor or wine from the wine vat. They were to give Yahweh’s portion to Aaron and make sure it was the best and holiest. They and their households were free to eat the rest of it anytime and anyplace because it was their wages for their work at the Tent of Meeting. By offering the best part, they would avoid guilt and not be desecrating the holy offerings of the People of Israel.
Summary of chapter 18
The Levite’s compensation for their labor for the priests was the tithes of the other tribes of Israel. The priest’s allocation was the tithes of the Levites. The authority of the priesthood to be the only mediator between Yahweh and humans was matched with the responsibility of keeping the Sanctuary holy. The Levites were honored by their calling as assistants to the priesthood and that honor was balanced with the responsibility of keeping those without that authority from trying to take over their position.
Prayer: Lord, I will live in the light of your word. It is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Your precepts show me how to walk in the paths of righteousness. I want my life to shine with your joy and love. I, along with my kingdom family, am called to be light to attract others to your kingdom and to live in your freedom. We are called to act with justice, to love tenderly, and to serve one another as we walk humbly with you. Help me to show mercy to all those in fear. We are called to be hope for the hopeless so that all hatred and blindness will cease. I look forward to that great day when your family is walking together with you, united in love. Until then help me to remember to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you.
Things to think about
- What did this chapter tell you about the personality of Yahweh?
- Yeshua said, “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” How does that relate to Yahweh’s instructions for Aaron and his sons and the rest of the tribe of Levi?
- Did your meditations on this chapter reveal how Yahweh’s instructions to the priests and Levites should prevent another rebellion like the one recorded in the previous chapter?
- What do you think about the tithe and the way Yahweh used it to support both the needs of the Levites and the priests? What does it reveal about the character of Yahweh?
- I have seen T.V. shows where the heroin wiggled her nose or blinked her eyes and food or shelter magically appeared. Yahweh is all powerful so he could supply our needs “magically” but he uses people to supply each other’s needs. Why do you think he does it that way? What does that tell you about his nature?
- What is the difference between legalism and following the procedures Yahweh gave us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with him?
- Is the need for order above all other human concerns as Chinese legalism believes? Where did the need for order come into the instructions Yahweh gave the priests and Levites?
 Psalm 73:26; 142:; I Peter 2:9
 Matthew 20:25-28
 Psalm 73:26; 142:; I Peter 2:9
 Matthew 20:25-28