The Duties of the Priests and Levites
1The LORD said to Aaron:
You, your sons, and the other Levites of the Kohath clan, are responsible for what happens at the sacred tent. And you and your sons will be responsible for what the priests do. 2The Levites are your relatives and are here to help you in your service at the tent. 3You must see that they perform their duties. But if they go near any of the sacred objects or the altar, all of you will die. 4No one else is allowed to take care of the sacred tent or to do anything connected with it.
5Follow these instructions, so I won’t become angry and punish the Israelites ever again. 6I alone chose the Levites from all the other tribes to belong to me, and I have given them to you as your helpers. 7But only you and your sons can serve as priests at the altar and in the most holy place. Your work as priests is a gift from me, and anyone else who tries to do that work must be put to death.
1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
The Priests’ Share of Offerings Given to the LORD
8-9The LORD said to Aaron:
I have put you in charge of the sacred gifts and sacrifices that the Israelites bring to me. And from now on, you, your sons, and your descendants will receive part of the sacrifices for sin, as well as part of the grain sacrifices, and the sacrifices to make things right. Your share of these sacrifices will be the parts not burned on the altar. 10Since these things are sacred, they must be eaten near the sacred tent, but only men are allowed to eat them.
11You will also receive part of the special gifts and offerings that the Israelites bring to me. Any member of your family who is clean and acceptable for worship can eat these things. 12For example, when the Israelites bring me the first batches of oil, wine, and grain, you can have the best parts of those gifts. 13And the first part of the crops from their fields and vineyards also belongs to you. The people will offer this to me, then anyone in your family who is clean may have some of it.
14Everything in Israel that has been completely dedicated to me will now belong to you. 15The first-born son in every Israelite family, as well as the first-born males of their flocks and herds, belong to me. But a first-born son and every first-born donkey must be bought back from me. 16The price for a first-born son who is at least one month old will be five pieces of silver, weighed according to the official standards.
17However, all first-born cattle, sheep, and goats belong to me and cannot be bought back. Splatter their blood on the altar and send their fat up in smoke, so I can smell it and be pleased. 18You are allowed to eat the meat of those animals, just as you can eat the choice ribs and the right hind leg of the special sacrifices. 19From now on, the sacred offerings that the Israelites give to me will belong to you, your sons, and your daughters. This is my promise to you and your descendants, and it will never change.
Salt speaks of purity, of preservation, and of expense. So, a covenant of salt is a pure covenant (salt stays a pure chemical compound), a covenant of salt is an enduring covenant (salt makes things preserve and endure), and a covenant of salt is a valuable covenant (salt was expensive).
20You will not receive any land in Israel as your own. I am the LORD, and I will give you whatever you need.
What the Levites Receive
The LORD said to Aaron:
21Ten percent of the Israelites’ crops and one out of every ten of their newborn animals belong to me. But I am giving all this to the Levites as their pay for the work they do at the sacred tent. 22-23They are the only ones allowed to work at the tent, and they must not let anyone else come near it. Those who do must be put to death, and the Levites will also be punished. This law will never change.
Since the Levites won’t be given any land in Israel as their own, 24they will be given the crops and newborn animals that the Israelites offer to me.
by Dennis T. Olson
The special calling of the priests and Levites in Numbers 18 included having no tribal territory of their own in the land of Canaan. Jesus called his followers to a similar life of trust and dependence on God without excessive worry over material needs: “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). The disciples of Jesus had left everything to follow him, and Jesus responds, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:27-29). The special calling of priests and proclaimers of the gospel entails living in profound trust in God’s providential care and working in diligent obedience to the call and will of God. The community of faith, in turn, is likewise called to diligent support of those who lead and guide the community in its life of worship and service.
What the Levites Must Give
25The LORD told Moses 26to say to the Levites:
When you receive from the people of Israel ten percent of their crops and newborn animals, you must offer a tenth of that to me. 27Just as the Israelites give me part of their grain and wine, you must set aside part of what you receive 28as an offering to me. That amount must then be given to Aaron, 29so the best of what you receive will be mine.
30After you have dedicated the best parts to me, you can eat the rest, just as the Israelites eat part of their grain and wine after offering them to me. 31Your share may be eaten anywhere by anyone in your family, because it is your pay for working at the sacred tent. 32You won’t be punished for eating it, as long as you have already offered the best parts to me. The gifts and sacrifices brought by the people must remain sacred, and if you eat any part of them before they are offered to me, you will be put to death.
1 Peter 2:9-10 says: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Having received God’s mercy as shown on the cross, we are now God’s people and God’s priests on earth. In other words — we are the Church. HERE is one of the best “church” songs I know — “Built On A Rock the Church Doth Stand,” written by Nicolai F.S. Grundtvig in 1837. The group singing is the Northern Lights Chorale from the Twin Cities. Lyrics of the many verses below.
1. Built on the Rock the Church doth stand,
Even when steeples are falling;
Crumbled have spires in every land,
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the soul distrest,
Longing for rest everlasting.
2. Surely in temples made with hands,
God, the Most High, is not dwelling;
High above earth His temple stands,
All earthly temples excelling.
Yet He whom heavens cannot contain
Chose to abide on earth with men,
Built in our bodies His temple.
3. We are God’s house of living stones,
Builded for His habitation;
He through baptismal grace us owns
Heirs of His wondrous salvation.
Were we but two His name to tell,
Yet He would deign with us to dwell,
With all His grace and His favor.
4. Now we may gather with our King
E’en in the lowliest dwelling;
Praises to Him we there may bring,
His wondrous mercy forthtelling.
Jesus His grace to us accords;
Spirit and life are all His words;
His truth doth hallow the temple.
5. Still we our earthly temples rear
That we may herald His praises;
They are the homes where He draws near
And little children embraces.
Beautiful things in them are said;
God there with us His covenant made,
Making us heirs of His kingdom.
6. Here stands the font before our eyes
Telling how God did receive us;
The altar recalls Christ’s sacrifice
And what His table doth give us;
Here sounds the Word that doth proclaim
Christ yesterday, today, the same,
Yea, and for aye our Redeemer.
7. Grant then, O God, where’er men roam,
That, when the church-bells are ringing,
Many in saving faith may come
Where Christ His message is bringing:
“I know Mine own, Mine own know Me;
Ye, not the world, My face shall see.
My peace I leave with you.” Amen.