Numbers 8 – Lighting of the Lamps, the Levites Cleansed for Service
A. The lighting of the lamps.
1. (1-3) Lamps are placed on the lampstand.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron, and say to him, ‘When you arrange the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand.'” And Aaron did so; he arranged the lamps to face toward the front of the lampstand, as the Lord commanded Moses.
a. When you arrange the lamps: The lampstand was described and made in Exodus 25:31-40; but the lampstand by itself could give no light. It had to have lamps placed upon it that gave light. All the lampstand could do was make the light more visible.
i. The lamps were fueled by oil; and would need to be continually filled with oil to provide constant light.
b. He arranged the lamps to face toward the front of the lampstand: Revelation 1:20 makes lampstands a picture of the church; the church itself does not light the world, but it does provide a “platform” for Jesus’ light to be seen.
2. (4) Description of the lampstand.
Now this workmanship of the lampstand was hammered gold; from its shaft to its flowers it was hammered work. According to the pattern which the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.
B. Cleansing and dedication of the Levites.
1. (5-7) Cleansing and sprinkling.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them ceremonially. Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purification on them, and let them shave all their body, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.”
a. Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them ceremonially: The priests had their dedication back in Leviticus 8 and 9. This was the dedication of the Levites. The priests seemed to have a more spiritually oriented service, but the Levites needed to be dedicated unto the Lord also. Even practical service needs a heart of dedication and consecration to the Lord.
b. Sprinkle water of purification on them: This ceremonial cleansing pictured a cleansing of sin. It was part of the new covenant as described in Ezekiel 36:25: Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean.
c. Let them shave all their body: This was also commanded in the ceremony for the purification of a leper (Leviticus 14:9). The idea was of a new start, of being made like a baby all over again – as in being born again.
2. (8-15) The dedication of the Levites through sacrifice.
“Then let them take a young bull with its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, and you shall take another young bull as a sin offering. And you shall bring the Levites before the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall gather together the whole congregation of the children of Israel. So you shall bring the Levites before the Lord, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites; and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord, like a wave offering from the children of Israel, that they may perform the work of the Lord. Then the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the young bulls, and you shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to the Lord, to make atonement for the Levites. And you shall stand the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and then offer them like a wave offering to the Lord. Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine. After that the Levites shall go in to service the tabernacle of meeting. So you shall cleanse them and offer them, like a wave offering.”
a. Then let them take a young bull with its grain offering: As a bull is sacrificed, the children of Israel lay their hands on the Levites, to bless them and pray for their dedication before the Lord. It would be clear both the Levites and the nation that the Levites were servants of both the Lord and the nation.
i. A wave offering would present something to God (such as a portion of meat or bread), and essentially say, “This is Yours, God.” The nation came before God, and essentially said, “These Levites belong to You, Lord.”
b. After that the Levites shall go in to service the tabernacle of meeting: Real ministry isn’t all about dedication ceremonies; it is about doing the work. After the dedication, it was time to get busy!
3. (16-19) The Levites are regarded as Israel’s firstborn given to God.
“For they are wholly given to Me from among the children of Israel; I have taken them for Myself instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the children of Israel. For all the firstborn among the children of Israel are Mine, both man and beast; on the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them to Myself. I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn of the children of Israel. And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the work for the children of Israel in the tabernacle of meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Israel, that there be no plague among the children of Israel when the children of Israel come near the sanctuary.”
a. I have taken them for Myself instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the children of Israel: This theme was previously stated in Numbers 3:40-51.
4. (20-22) Doing what God had commanded for the cleansing, dedication, and work of the Levites.
Thus Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel did to the Levites; according to all that the Lord commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so the children of Israel did to them. And the Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes; then Aaron presented them, like a wave offering before the Lord, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. After that the Levites went in to do their work in the tabernacle of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the Lord commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.
5. (23-26) The time of service for Levites.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “This is what pertains to the Levites: From twenty-five years old and above one may enter to perform service in the work of the tabernacle of meeting; and at the age of fifty years they must cease performing this work, and shall work no more. They may minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of meeting, to attend to needs, but they themselves shall do no work. Thus you shall do to the Levites regarding their duties.”
a. From twenty-five years old and above: A Levite’s time of active service was to begin at age thirty and last until fifty according to Numbers 4:3, 4:23, and 4:30. Yet their formal training began at age twenty-five, with a five year apprenticeship.
b. Thus you shall do to the Levites regarding their duties: This chapter shows that Promised Land people must be cleansed, dedicated, and doing the work.
© 2004 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission