We talked about the weight of being chosen and the wages as well. Now we look at the purpose. Aaron & his sons and the rest of the Levites were not chosen for the fun of it. They were given a reason, a purpose. This is where we begin to see that.
This is where we see the ordinance of the red heifer. The red heifer is meant to be a sacrifice, but not just any sacrifice. It is the sacrifice that cleanses the tabernacle. That is one of the primary roles and purposes of the priest. They are to offer the sacrifices and teach the people so that they can be purified and so that their sins can be covered. Their purpose is to serve YHWH, and to help the unclean to become clean before the LORD.
What happens when the unclean does not become clean… when the priest does not do his duty as he has been called by YHWH to do?
20 ‘But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD;
If the priest did not do his duty, the peoples sins were not covered, and they were forever separated from the assembly … the people … the congregation of YHWH. That’s quite the responsibility.
Aren’t you glad that there is both a perfect Sacrifice and a perfect Priest. One who cannot fail in his priestly duties because He is both the one who cleanses us, and the one who makes us clean. The one sent of YHWH to answer the perfect call with perfect purpose.
Thank you Jesus the Christ. The one prophesied to come, and the one to fulfill all of the prophesies. Now we too can have a purpose!
Rev. John Camiolo Jr.
The unrest continues. In chapter 11 the people complained to Moses & the LORD yet again. Moses became fed up with having to deal with it all the time and he complained to the LORD about the people. So YHWH gave Moses 70 elders to assist him in leading the people. Every one of them spoke prophetically when the Holy Spirit descended on them the first time. Then the people’s complaints led to YHWH striking them with a plague.
Now, we arrive at Numbers 12, and it’s not done yet! The people are doing it; Moses has done it; now Miriam and Aaron are joining the fray. Everyone’s airing their complaints, now they are going to as well. A while back, before the whole Exodus trip, Moses had been in the wilderness for 40 years and while there he married a woman of the people of Cush instead of an Israelite woman. This is part of the problem as this is what leads into the other complaint, the real issue. Miriam and Aaron use this as a stepping point to help justify their big complaint. Moses is getting all of the glory! He leads, and now he has just given these other people, these 70 elders some of the leadership and authority given to him by YHWH!
How do we know that these 70 elders are worthy of being leaders? The Holy Spirit came upon them and they prophesied! So if proof of God / YHWH’s divine calling is to prophesy, Miriam & Aaron should be able to lead as well!
Why does Moses get to do all the leading? YHWH has obviously spoken in and through them as well. These other leaders have only been doing this for a day and they are leaders of the people. Miriam and Aaron have been at the forefront, been actively involved, and have been prophesying (being a mouthpiece of YHWH) since before Egypt for Aaron, and at least since they crossed the Red Sea for Miriam! Yet here they are, playing second fiddle to these underlings!
Does that sound familiar to some of you? Was there some merit in their argument? Absolutely!… kind of. They had been used by YHWH that whole time. Aaron had even performed miracles in Egypt. The reality is that Miraim and Aaron had been leaders the entire time. They did not have the titles that these other “leaders” were given (although Aaron was High Priest), but they were just as much leaders, if not even more, than those appointed. So what happens to Miriam and Aaron when they, as leaders, speak out against Moses, YHWH’s chosen leader? “…behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow…” Miriam was the leader in this complaining (hence her name showing up first), so she received the responsibility and the brunt. She got what she asked for. She was the leader and she got the punishment. Even then, her leadership was proven. She ended up cast out of the camp for a week because of her uncleanness from the leprosy, and the whole congregation refused to leave where they were until she was back where she belonged. THAT’S what a good leader looks like! She may not have had the title she wanted, but she was a leader.
Are we so caught up in titles that we lose focus on our purpose? Do we get upset when someone lower than us is “given” a leadership role we “deserve”? Be careful what you speak against YHWH’s anointed. YHWH does not take that criticism lightly.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
It has come time for the alter to be dedicated and for the priests to do their duties. The leaders of the tribes of Israel to step up and be leaders. So they do. Together they offer 6 carts and 12 oxen for use in the service of the tabernacle. Then the leader of each tribe comes and offers the offering for a day, each in turn for 12 days. They all offer the same things. A silver dish and a silver bowl full of grain and oil, a gold pan full of incense; a bull, a ram, a male lamb one year old for a burnt offering; a male goat for a sin offering; 2 bulls, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old for a peace offering.
I love to see the leaders being leaders! They stand as not only instructing and directing each of their tribes respectively, but also serving and being an example to them. They recognize that they have a responsibility to both YHWH and the people that they stand before. They are the first to offer sacrifice and offering to the LORD and stand both in representation of their tribe, and as an example for their tribe to follow. Everything is done right, and it is done well. This is why these men are the leaders of their tribes. They came first and they came before. They served, and they served as an example. They obeyed and they cooperated. They were truly dedicated leaders.
This was a long chapter going through all of these offerings day by day. It took me three days to copy over this chapter, but it also allowed me to finally get caught back up with my posting, so now i am once again posting on the same chapter that i am completing. It’s a nice to be caught back up!
YHWH takes a strong stance on defilement. He is Holy, and He cannot have sin in His presence. So when He puts His name on and makes His residence among the people of Israel, it is, must be, and must remain a big deal that the people remain pure. As much as God / YHWH is Love, even more so He is Holy.
So we come to chapter 5. God / YHWH makes it clear, that anyone who becomes defiled cannot be in the camp. They must reside outside of the camp. As such, anyone with leprosy, anyone with a discharge, anyone who has touched a dead person, anyone who was unclean had to be sent outside of the camp. So the Israelites did it. They sent them outside the camp. What’s amazing to me is that this is one of those things that the people of Israel continued to do. They didn’t just do this for a little while and stop. This separation of the defiled from the rest of the people of Israel extended up to the time of the downfall of the city of Jerusalem. We see in Jeremiah that when the Assyrian army was at Jerusalem’s doorstep, it was the leapers and outcasts that were outside of the city walls that went to the Assyrian camp and found that the army had been destroyed. Even when Israel had abandoned almost all of the other laws of YHWH, this is one that remained.
The second part (majority) of the chapter deals with a husband that suspects that his wife has had an affair. If a husband suspects that his wife (who is under his authority) has cheated on him, he has the ability to bring her to the tabernacle and have YHWH pass judgment on whether she has defiled herself. The priest offers a sacrifice and goes through a specific ritual including taking the dust from the floor of the temple and using it as part of a holy water for this woman to drink. The woman makes an oath that she has not been unfaithful and that if she has been, she will be cursed with her abdomen (stomach) growing big, her thigh (fertility) would waste away, and she would be a curse among her people. It was very shameful if she truly had disrespected her husband and marriage by coming out of her husband’s authority. If she had not, then she was truly justified in front of her husband, the priest, and all of Israel.
I think it’s interesting that God / YHWH tells no one how to do their jobs except for the Levites and priests. Everyone has free reign to choose the job / position / role that they want to play. They could choose to herd sheep, be an artisan, run a shop, take care of kids, teach, whatever. But not the Levites. They were not just set aside as holy, they were set aside with a purpose.
Not only did the Levites have to serve the priests, temple, and God / YHWH, but they also each had their own tasks depending on their families. The Kohathites for instance, were in charge of moving and caring for the most holy things. Even in this, the Kohathites were not allowed to see the most holy objects. It was the duty of the priests to cover the objects such as the alter, the lampstands, and the ark of the testimony.
Next the Gershonites were responsible for the coverings and hangings of the tabernacle. They were responsible to take care of the screens for the doorways, the hangings of the court, and the covering of the tabernacle.
Then finally, the Merarites were responsible for the frame of the tabernacle. They took care of the pillars, the boards, the bars, etc. They were responsible for the very skeleton, the frame of the tabernacle. If they did not do their jobs right, the whole of the structure would fall down upon them.
Does God give us duties, or simply roles. Does He direct our every step, or are we responsible enough to seek the Lord and all He is and allow obedience to His overall calling guide us?
It always seems like God has a plan. Even when it comes to the mundane things. He always knows what He wants done, how and why. Everything He does has a purpose and a reason, even if it’s not obvious to us. His plan is perfect, even when we aren’t.
In numbers 2 we see that God / YHWH even has a plan for the arrangement of the camp:
To the East was the camp of Judah which included the tribes of Judah, Issachar, & Zebulon. They spread East with 186,400 people.
To the North was the camp of Dan which included Dan, Naphatali, and Asher. They spread North with 157,600 people.
To the West was the camp of Ephraim with Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. They spread West with 108,100 people.
To the South was the camp of Reuben with Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. They spread South with 151,400 people.
Meanwhile, the tribe of Levi directly surrounds the tabernacle with the Levites acting as a buffer between YHWH and the people.
This is how it would likely have looked from above.
Isn’t that amazing? YHWH always seems to have a plan and a purpose.
Things are starting to come together. The end is nigh and the countdown is beginning. This chapter begins with the triumphal entry. Jesus enters Jerusalem for His / the final passover. The disciples find the colt as He predicts. He rides the colt into Jerusalem with the bystanders worshiping YHWH and giving Him adoration calling for Him to fulfill His mission as Messiah to save them and desiring Him to free them from Roman tyranny. However, as is the case quite often, our expectations of what YHWH should do, and what He does, are two different things. Even when we have the same message / prediction.
Christ comes in and begins the process of redemption and rescue from tyranny… He drives the money changers and the seats of those who were selling in the temple. Those who were turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves.
The next morning he was hungry and came upon a barren fig tree. It should have had fruit, but it didn’t. He cursed it, and it began to wither and die. This is a great analogy of the pharisees. They too are not bearing fruit to righteousness. As a result, they begin to wither and die as Christ sacrifices Himself to build the church.
The rest of this chapter is focused on this dynamic action – reaction of Jesus and the Pharisees. They challenge His authority wanting to know what right He has to teach preach, and do these things. Christ in turn He puts their actions and those of sinners into perspective. He shows that knowing the law and being sinless are two very different things, and He criticizes them for it.
Jesus continues with another parable about a landowner who builds a vineyard, rents it out to vine-dressers, and sends his servants out to collect the fruits of the vineyard. The vine-dressers instead beat the representatives and eventually kill the owner’s son. This is the final truth of their relationship. The pharisees will kill the landowner’s son, but the landowner will destroy the vine-dressers and redeem His people.
The relationship between Jesus and the pharisees is such a contrast. Jesus cares for the fruit of the vine, while most of the Pharisees care more about what they can get from the fruit than they do about caring for the fruit. They are killing the vineyard from the inside out, and they just didn’t seem to care. This dynamic seems to define and explain all that follows. It is the reason and purpose for all that follows.
This is a key turning point in Jesus ministry and the pharisees focus when it comes to Jesus.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.