There was a guy that i worked with for a while who was of the sons of Levi (per self-report). He stated that He was of the direct lineage of the Priestly line (a high priest). A great, great, great, great, great… grandson of Aaron. He was a kind of chubby, dirty, greasy kind of guy, but he was good with pipe organs and other construction work. I learned how to wire ceiling lights and put up drop-ceiling work from him. He was the man that was called when a church in NYC’s pipe organ tumbled down off of the wall and buried a man underneath the pipes and other equipment. After a day or two of work, the buried man was unburied and found relatively unscathed beneath the pile of pipes.
I don’t even remember the guy’s name, but I remember him talking about how, when he was a child he saw the garments of the high priest. These were the robes that would have been worn by the high priest in all of his tabernacle / temple duties. I remember him talking about the symbolism even in the decoration of the priestly garments; how in the decorative work of the headpiece right on the forehead was the symbol of three crosses. That that symbolism had been there; the priests had spent millennia walking around doing their duties as priests with three crosses on their foreheads completely unaware of what that meant and represented.
It’s amazing when you think about it, yet at the same time, it’s completely a God / YHWH thing. Our God loves to hide amazing wonders and miraculous things in plain sight. He loves to share His wonders with the world, yet the only ones who see it are those who seek it and whose eyes are open to it. It’s like the parables; earthly stories with heavenly meaning. Open to all to hear, but only those who pursue the answer from the source, really get the whole picture.
This same man who was purportedly of the line of Aaron, reported that he had rebelled when he was younger and he ended up becoming the high-priest for the church of Satan. He wouldn’t talk much about this part of his life as he was clearly ashamed of it and seemed to have some very PTSD type symptoms as a result of it. It’s funny because i’m inclined to believe much of what he said (whether it’s true or not) because it just seems like something that would happen. The enemy takes a fallen of the dedicated and holy of the children of Israel, and turns him into his servant. The enemy loves to take that which is most beautiful and precious to YHWH and turn it into the most despised.
I don’t really know what this story has to do with Numbers 8, other than that this is where the Levites are cleansed and prepared in holiness to do the work of service. But i believe that it is here for a reason.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
P.S. When i last saw this Jewish man, he was a Christian; continually in the background doing the work of service.
Whenever YHWH sets a leader over His people, He sets up some pretty high expectations. There are things that the people can do that the leaders must stay away from. Those who act as priests, prophets, and kings are expected to live at a higher standard than those who do not have a direct connection and responsibility to YHWH.
In this chapter those of the priestly line and especially the priests who serve the LORD are instructed that they may not defile themselves by a corpse unless it is a direct family member. Even then, the high priest may not even do that. They may not marry a woman who has been widowed or divorced, or who has slept with any other man at any time in her life. She must be a virgin or he may not marry her. Nor may a priest tear his clothes in mourning or uncover his head. If his daughter profanes herself in harlotry, it rests on him as well. Then finally, if there is any physical defect in a man, He may not serve as priest before the LORD. YHWH even goes so far as to say that if a man has a broken hand or foot, he may not serve the LORD.
Do we take our responsibility in representing the LORD seriously? Do we set ourselves apart from the world, or do we do what everyone else is doing? As people who pursue God and seek His work and will in our lives, we should be living examples of God and His work and will. We should be truly pursuing Him in all holiness.
I have been waiting for this chapter. I knew that it was coming, and to some extent i have been dreading it. After everything that has happened. After all of the preparing and anointing and consecrating, the time comes for Aaron’s grown sons to step up and do their part, and what happens? Immediately they mess it up. It’s not even like they just forgot something. It’s that they knew what they were supposed to do and purposely did the wrong thing.
We don’t know what they were thinking. We don’t know their plans, or their purpose, or their intent. All we know is what happened, and the response of YHWH God to their clear violation of his law. They “offered strange fire before the LORD (YHWH)“. Strong’s concordance describes this word “strange” as;
זוּר – zûr (zoor)
A primitive root; to turn aside (especially for lodging); hence to be a foreigner, strange, profane; specifically (active participle) to commit adultery: – (come from) another (man, place), fanner, go away, (e-) strange (-r, thing, woman).
So the word “strange” here is defined under the context of foreign (not natural), profane, and adulterous. So we aren’t just talking about mixing up the spices differently than they were supposed to. We are referring to a completely inappropriate and sinful offering given to YHWH, the one HOLY God.
Here are the priests, the ones who are to stand before YHWH and represent the people. They are to be coming into God’s presence holy, bringing a holy sacrifice to cover the people and their sins, and what do they do on one of the first days of their job? They offer a profane and adulterous offering to YHWH! They insult YHWH and basically do their best to slap Him in the face. YHWH’s response? Fire comes out from His presence and consumes them! They are destroyed on the spot.
When those who are supposed to be standing before the LORD and ministering to YHWH and the people are purposely rejecting and disobeying Him, what does it say about Him, and what does it mean for them? Those who are leaders and ministers need to take His work seriously. If we don’t, what will His response be to us. Those who are leaders are held to a higher standard, but we also have the potential for a greater reward. However, we MUST pursue the holiness of the LORD.
John Camiolo Jr.
(vs. 26-46) Much is expected of the priests of God. It is a difficult job with long hours. It requires purity and holiness on the part of the priests. It even requires that they come before YHWH’s presence under the pressure of only doing what is right, and if they don’t they could be risking their lives. But it’s not without some perks. The priests, with all their hard work, get a portion of the meat used in the sacrifice as well as the bread used in the tabernacle. “It shall be for Aaron and his sons as their portion forever”. It’s nice to see just how God is providing for His leaders.
We also see the importance of consecrating the alter for its use. It didn’t matter that it was made just right. Even with the right materials and being built the right way, it still required consecration before it could be used for its intended purpose.
One of the things i did want to note is that every day in the morning and at twilight there was to be the sacrifice of a one year old lamb with one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. It’s interesting that wine would be considered as something clean / pure to be used in a holy offering since many Christians / Christian denominations here in America see alcohol as something sinful. Yet God sees it as a valid sacrifice to Him
It becomes the responsibility of Aaron and his sons to serve the LORD; to come between the people and YHWH; to bring the people, their requests, their need for cleansing to the LORD. As such Aaron and his sons needed to have one foot on the earth, and the other in the doorway to heaven. How do you balance the impurity and sin that is so prevalent in the world with the awesome purity and Holiness of God? Talk about a difficult task; yet that is what Aaron and his sons are charged with doing.
The first steps in fulfilling that role are described here. Before anything else, Aaron and his sons need to be separated from the group and cleansed both physically and spiritually. They are responsible for being representatives / ambassadors / spokesmen of men to God. Therefore in coming into God’s presence they must be as close to clean and pure as humanly possible. So in this process, Moses is responsible to follow YHWH’s instruction and purify Aaron and his sons.
Could you imagine having the responsibility of being the one that stands between man and YHWH? Every day you must perform your duties and bring the sacrifices and offerings of the people before Him. Thus the process of being set apart for God is extremely important.
One thing of interest that i did note, in these first 25 verses of Exodus 29, is that in verse 22 it talks about taking the fat from the ram and from all of these different parts, and then it says, “and the right thigh (for it is a ram of ordination)“. When i was looking at this, i thought it was kind of weird that it said to take the fat from the kidneys, and the fat from the entrails, and the fat tail, etc. and then randomly talked about the right thigh because it is a ram of ordination.
It does seem kind of strange, but not so much when you refer back to Genesis 32:24-32. This passage in Genesis is where Jacob, who had been blessed and set apart by God, wrestles with God. God touches his thigh socket and he has a limp from then on, and the sons of Jacob do not touch the sinew of the thigh of the meat that they eat. It is an interesting parallel. I don’t know beyond a doubt that this is what this is referring to, but it sure does give you pause to think.
I am so glad that I do not have to do God’s work for Him. I am so glad that all He requires of me is obedience. I don’t think that i could handle the stress of the work that God does… that certainly is a silly statement isn’t it. The point is, God was the one who did the work of hardening and softening Pharaoh’s heart. God is the one who did the miracles in Pharaoh’s presence. God is the one who fulfilled His promises to the people of Israel. It wasn’t Moses, it had to be God, Himself.
There have been times in my life where God has told me what He was going to do in my life, and then i have attempted to make it happen on my own. One guess as to the result… yup! I failed miserably! Months later, God did it. You would think that after that i would learn my lesson. Nope, i continue trying to do YHWH’s work for Him.
One thing i did want to make sure that i touch on is vs. 2-3 “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them.” The word LORD is the Hebrew word יהוה which is JHWH / YHWH / JHVH / YHVH. This includes only consonants. Traditionally, with vowels this word has been pronounced as Jehovah. However, as time has gone by, there has been mounting evidence that there is a mix of words here. It is believed that while the consonants are natural to the word, the vowels are not. The vowels come from Adonai (אֲדֹנָי) meaning “my lord” making יהוה (YHVH) into יְהֹוָה (Yehovah). The concept here is that in the 10 commandments YHWH says not to use His name in vain. As such the priests who would read the law to the people would protect them from using His name in vain by not even saying the revered name of God out loud to them. So whenever they came to the word YHWH, the priests would say Adonai instead. As a result, over the millennia the true vowels to the name YHWH were lost.
Some would say that that is not the case, that those vowels are actually the correct vowels for the name, but even with a very limited understanding of the history and tendencies of the Israelite people and the legalism of the Pharisees of Jesus time, i’m much more inclined to go with the vast majority of scholars and say YHWH.
Either way, i find it interesting that YHWH first tells His true name not to Abraham, Isaac, & Israel, but rather to Moses and His people in Egypt.