All Christians, and especially ministers,
should cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,
perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.
Those who bear the vessels of the Lord must be clean.
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.
3 And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses.
4 And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick.
5 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
6 Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.
7 And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.
8 Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering.
9 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together:
10 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:
11 And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD.
12 And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites.
13 And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the LORD.
14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.
15 And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.
16 For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.
17 For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.
18 And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.
19 And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.
20 And Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites according unto all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them.
21 And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the LORD; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.
22 And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.
23 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
24 This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:
25 And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:
26 But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.
Numbers 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Numbers 8:1-13 – Lights in God’s House; Clean Workmen
It is strange to come on this paragraph about the candlestick amid the preparations for leaving Sinai. But typically it is appropriate, because the people of God are called, in their earthly pilgrimage, to shine as lights in the world.
The beaten work of gold is significant of persecution, and the one lump of gold indicates the essential unity of the Church. The Levites were symbolically cleansed by the water and the razor. This was required for those who were sprung from a stock so cruel, Genesis 49:7.
Next they were offered to God, i.e., Israel transferred to them the obligations of ministry, which up to this time had been performed by the firstborn. As the priest was wont to wave a portion of the sacrifice before God, so Aaron, Numbers 8:11. The counterpart of this is Acts 13:3. Missionaries, teachers and others who perform certain functions for us all, may be regarded as wave-offerings. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Numbers 8:11, 13, 15, 21—Aaron offered them as an offering.
This is interesting and instructive. The Levites were substituted for the firstborn of Israel. They were first separated from the rest of the people, cleansed, sprinkled, shaven, and finally presented to the Lord by the act of Aaron, who, according to the Hebrew word, waved them before the Lord. This waving must, of course, have been done in symbol and figure. But it was not enough that they were thus waved, they had thereafter to go in to do their service. In other words, they were called to realize actually that which was their position and standing in the sight of God.
There is a precise analogy in all this to the work which the Lord Jesus has accomplished for us all. He said (John 17:19), “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified.” When He offered Himself without spot to God, to do His Father’s will, though it cost Him the agony of Calvary, the heavenly Aaron waved us before God to be His. We were separated by His most precious death, that we should be wholly for God. But what is ours in the great deed of Christ, must become ours by our own choice and deed. We must go in to do the service for which we have been chosen and set apart by the Holy Ghost.
This can only be through the grace of the blessed Spirit. Ask Him to realize in you the purposes of God: trust Him to keep you trusting: each morning say, “Holy Spirit, I rely on Thee to keep me in the current of the Divine purpose.” Then dare to go forth to do the day’s duties, believing that you may be always engaged in God’s holy service; that in everything, whether you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, you do all to the glory of God. —Our Daily Homily
Numbers 8:14-26 – Consecrated to God’s Service
The Levites may be taken to represent the Church as distinguished from the rest of mankind, or the little band of pastors, teachers, and missionaries, set apart for the service of the Church. In any case, they needed to be perpetually reminded that sin mingled with the holiest ceremonial, and required the perpetual cleansing of sacrifice. After our holiest services we need to remember that we are unprofitable servants.
From thirty to fifty is the prime of human life. There is no inconsistency between Numbers 4:3 and 4:23 here, because a five years novitiate was required. When we can no longer bear the strain of mind and body, we may still keep the holy charge and minister before the altar of incense, Numbers 8:25-26. So it was with Zacharias in Luke 1:7, 9. We can intercede as long as we live, and our maintenance will only cease with our lifework. —Through the Bible Day by Day