Numbers 18

 

 

      STATUS AND REVENUES OF PRIESTS AND LEVITES (vs. 1-32).

 

1  And the LORD said unto Aaron,” - This clear and comprehensive instruction

as to the position and support of the sons of Aaron on the one hand, and of the Levites

on the other, may very naturally have been given in connection with the events just

narrated. There is, however, no direct reference to those events, and it is quite possible

that the only connection was one of subject-matter in the mind of the writer. That the

regulations which follow were addressed to Aaron directly is a thing unusual, and

indeed unexampled. The ever-recurring statement elsewhere is, “the Lord spake unto

 Moses,” varied occasionally by “the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron”

(as in ch. 2:1; 4:1; 19:1); but even where the communication refers to things wholly and

peculiarly within the province of Aaron, it is usually made to Moses, and only through

him to his brother (see ch.8:1-3). This change in the form of the message may point to

a later date, i.e., to a time subsequent to the gainsaying of Korah, when the separate

position of Aaron as the head of a priestly caste was more fully recognized than before,

and he himself somewhat less under the shadow of his greater brother - “Thou and

thy sons and thy father’s house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary:”

Aaron’s father’s house, according to the analogy of ch.17:2-3, 6, was the sub-tribe

of the Kohathites, and these had charge (to the exclusion of the other Levites) of the

sanctuary, or rather sacred things (הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, as in ch.10:21. Septuagint, τῶν ἁγίων

ton hagion - sanctuary ). See on ch.4:15. This mention of the Kohathites in connection

with the sanctuary is an incidental proof that these instructions were given in view of the

wanderings in the wilderness, for after the settlement in Canaan no Levites (as such)

came into contact with the sacred furniture. It is not easy to define exactly the meaning

of “shall bear the iniquity (תִּשְׂאוּ אֶת־עַון) of the sanctuary.” The general sense

of the phrase is, “to be responsible for the iniquity,” i.e., for anything which caused

displeasure in the eyes of God, “in connection with the sacred things and the service

of them;” hence it meant either to be responsible for such iniquity, as being held

accountable for it, and having to endure the penalty, or as being permitted and enabled

to take such accountability on oneself, and so discharge it from others. This double

sense is exactly reflected in the Greek word αἴρειν,aireintaking away; lifting –

 as applied to our Lord (John 1:29). The priests, therefore (and the Kohathites, so far

as they had anything to do with the sanctuary), were responsible for all the unholiness

attaching or accruing to it, not only by reason of all offences committed by themselves,

but by reason of that imperfection which clung to them at the best, and made them

unworthy to handle the things of God. In a further and deeper sense they might be said

to be vicariously responsible for all the iniquity of all Israel, so far as the taint of it

affected the very sanctuary (see on Exodus 28:38; Leviticus 16:16) - “and thou and

thy sons with thee shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood.” The responsibility

not only for all sinful acts of omission and commission in Divine service (such as those

of Nadab and Abihu, and of Korah), but for all the inevitable failure of personal

holiness on the part of those who ministered unto the Lord. This responsibility was

emphatically recognized and provided for in the rites of the great day of atonement.

 

2 “And thy brethren also of the tribe of Levi,” -  The Levites generally, as

distinguished from the Kohathites in particular (see on ch. 3). the tribe of thy father,

bring thou with thee, that they may be joined unto thee,” - וְילָּווּ, a play upon the

name Levi (see on Genesis 29:34) - “and minister unto thee: but thou and thy sons

with thee shall minister before the tabernacle  of witness.”  The Hebrew has only

וְאַתָּה וּבָנֶי אִתָּך, which may be rendered, “And thou and thy sons with thee

(shall be),” or more naturally read with what goes before, “that they may minister

unto thee; both thee and thy sons with thee”.  The Septuagint and the Targums

appear to favor the former rendering, but it is not evident what distinction could be

drawn between priests and Levites as to the mere fact of being before the tabernacle.

 

3 And they shall keep thy charge, and the charge of all the tabernacle:” –

See on ch. 3:7-8 - “only they shall not come nigh the vessels of the sanctuary

and the altar, that neither they, nor ye also, die.”  This warning does not seem

to refer to the danger of the Kohathites seeing the sacred things (ch.4:15), but of

the other Levites coming near them; the further warning, “nor ye also,” is added

because if the carelessness or profanity of the priest led to sacrilege and death in

the case of the Levite, it would be laid to his charge (Ibid. v.18).

 

4  And they shall be joined unto thee, and keep the charge of the tabernacle

of the congregation, for all the service of the tabernacle: and a stranger” - 

וֶר, i.e., one not a Levite, as in ch.1:51 -  shall not come nigh unto you.”

 

5 “And ye shall keep the charge of the sanctuary, and the charge of the altar:

that there be no wrath any more upon the children of Israel.”  As there had

been in the case of Korah and his company, and of the many thousands who had

fallen in consequence.

 

6 “And I, behold, I have taken your brethren the Levites from among

the children of Israel:” - See on chapter 3:9; 8:19 - “to you they are given as

a gift for the LORD, to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.”

 

7 “Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s

office for everything of the altar, and within the vail;” - That the Levites were

made over to Aaron and his sons to relieve them of a great part of the mere routine

and drudgery of their service was to be with them an additional and powerful

 motive for doing their priestly work so reverently and watchfully as to

 leave no excuse for sacrilegious intrusion. The altar (of burnt offering) and

that within the vail (Hebrews 6:19) were the two points between which the

exclusive duties of the priesthood lay, including the service of the holy place –

and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a

service of gift:” - A service which was not to be regarded as a burden, or a

misfortune, or as a natural heritage and accident of birth, but to be received and

cherished as a favor accorded to them by the goodness of God - “and the

stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.”

 

8 “And the LORD spake unto Aaron,” - The charge and responsibility of the

priests having been declared, the provision for their maintenance is now to be set

forth - “Behold, I also have given thee the charge” - מִשְׁמֶרֶת, as in v.5,

but here it means “the keeping” for their own use (Exodus 12:6) -“of mine heave

offerings” - תְּרוּמֹתָי. The possessive pronoun marks the fact that these did not

belong to the priest in the first instance, although they naturally came to be looked

on as his perquisites (Compare I Samuel 2:16), but were a gift to him from the Lord

out of what the people had dedicated. The word terumoth must here be understood

in its widest sense, as including everything which the Israelites dedicated or “lifted”

of all their possessions, so far as these were not destroyed in the act of offering - “of

all the hallowed things” -  The genitive of identity: “consisting of all the

hallowed things.” of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by

reason of the anointing,” -  Rather, “for a portion,” לְמָשְׁחָה (see on

Leviticus 7:35). The Septuagint has εἰς γέρας eis geras -  as an honor,” or

Peculium - “and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever.”

 

9  This shall be thine of the most holy things, reserved from the fire:” -

i.e., from the sacrificial altar – “every oblation of their’s,” - As specified in the

following clauses. The burnt offering is not mentioned because it was wholly

consumed, and only the skin fell to the priest. The sin offerings for the priest or for

the congregation were also wholly consumed (Leviticus 4:12, 21), but the

sin offerings of private individuals, although in no case partaken of by the

offerers, were available for the priests (Ibid. 6:26), and this was the ordinary case -  

every meat offering of their’s, and every sin offering of  their’s, and every

trespass offering of their’s which they shall render unto  me, shall be

most holy for thee and for thy sons.”

 

10  In the most holy place shalt thou eat it;” - בְּקֹדֶשׁ הַדָקֹּשִׁים. Septuagint, ἐν τῷ

ἀγίῳ τῶν ἁγίων en to agio ton agionthe most Holy things.  This expression is

somewhat perplexing, because it stands commonly for the holy of holies (Exodus

26:33). As it cannot possibly have that meaning here, two interpretations have

been proposed.

 

  • That it means the court of the tabernacle, called “the holy place” in

Leviticus 6:16, 26; 7:6, and there specified as the only place in which

the meat offerings, the sin offerings, and trespass offerings might be eaten.

There is no reason why this court should not be called “most holy,” as well

as “holy;” if it was “holy” with respect to the camp, or the holy city, it was

most holy” with respect to all without the camp, or without the gate.

 

  • That the expression does not mean “in the most holy place,” but

amongst the most holy things,” as it does in ch. 4:4, and above

in v. 9. A distinction is clearly intended between the “most holy things,”

which only the priests and their sons might eat, and the “holy things,” of

which the rest of their families might partake also. It is difficult to decide

between these renderings, although there can be no doubt that the “most

holythings were actually to be consumed within the tabernacle precincts –

every male shall eat it: it shall be holy unto thee.”

 

11  And this is thine;” -  Here begins a second list of holy gifts which might be

eaten at home by all members of the priestly families who were clean; they included:

 

    1. all wave offerings, especially the wave breast and heave shoulder of the

peace offerings;

    1. all first-fruits of every kind;
    2. all that was devoted;
    3. all the first-born, or their substitutes. The first and third must have been

very variable in amount, but the second and fourth, if honestly rendered,

must have brought in a vast amount both of produce and of revenue –

 

the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings” -  Rather, “in all

the wave offerings,” as in v. 8 - “of the children of Israel: I have given them

unto thee, and to thy sons and to thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever:

every one that is clean in thy house shall eat of it.”

 

12All the best” -  Literally, “all the fat” (Compare Genesis 45:18) - “of the oil,

and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which

they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee.  13 And whatsoever

is first ripe in the land, which they shall bring unto the LORD, shall be thine;

every one that is clean in thine house shall eat of it.  14 Every thing devoted” –

כָּל־חֵרֶם. Septuagint, πᾶν ἀνατεθεματισμένονpan anatethematismenon

everything devoted” -  all deodands, a thing forfeited or given to God, specifically,

in law, an object or instrument which becomes forfeit because it has caused a person's

death (Wickipedia) or things vowed (see on Leviticus 27:28) -“in Israel shall be

thine.  15 Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring

unto the LORD, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be  thine:  nevertheless

the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean

beasts shalt thou redeem.”

 

16  And those that are to be redeemed from a month old” -  Literally,

from the monthly child,” as soon as they reach the age of one month -shalt

thou redeem, according to thine estimation,” - See on Leviticus 5:15; 27:2-7.

It would seem that the priest was to make the valuation for the people, since each

first-born or firstling was separately claimed by God, and had to be separately

redeemed; but at the same time, to prevent extortion, the sum which the priest

might assess was fixed by God - “for the money of five shekels,” - About

seventeen shillings of our money (written 200 years ago – CY – 2011 –see ch. 3:47).

It is extremely difficult to estimate the number of first-born, but it is evident that in any

case a large income must have accrued to the priests in this way. No value is here set

upon the firstlings of unclean beasts; in the most usual case, that of the ass, the rule

had been laid down in Exodus 13:13; and in other cases it was apparently left to the

discretion of the priests, subject to the right of the owner, if he saw fit, to destroy the

animal rather than pay for it (see Leviticus 27:27) “after the shekel of the sanctuary,

which is twenty gerahs.”

 

17  But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling

of a goat, thou shalt not redeem;” -  Only those things which were not available

for sacrifice could be redeemed; the rest must be offered to Him that claimed them.

The first-born of men belonged partially to both classes: on the one hand, they

could not be sacrificed, and therefore were redeemed with money; on the other hand,

they could be dedicated (being clean), and therefore had been exchanged for the

Levites - “they are holy: thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and

shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savor unto the

LORD.”

 

18 and the flesh of them shall be thine, as the wave breast and as the

right shoulder are thine.” This is on the face of it inconsistent with the

direction given in Deuteronomy 15:19-20, that the flesh of the firstlings

should be eaten by the offerers in the holy place (compare also Ibid. ch.12:17-18).

Two explanations have been proposed:

 

1. That the firstlings were given to the priest in the same sense as the peace

offerings, i.e., only as regarded the breast and shoulder, while the rest went

to the offerer. This, however, does obvious violence to the language, and is

not supported by the Septuagint.

 

2.  That as the priest was bound to consume the firstlings with his family,

and could not sell them, he would be certainly disposed to invite the offerer

to join him in the sacred meal. This may have been usually the case, but it

was entirely within the option of the priest, and could scarcely be made the

basis of a direct command, like that of Deuteronomy 15:19, still less of

an indirect assumption, like that of Ibid. ch.12:17-18, that the firstlings stood

upon the same footing as free-will offerings and heave offerings. It is easier

to suppose that the law was actually modified in this, as in some other particulars.

 

19 “All the heave offerings of the holy things,” -  Those, viz., enumerated from v.9

which the children of Israel offer unto the LORD, have I given thee, and thy

sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt

for ever” - Septuagint, διαθήκη ἀλὸς αἰωνίου diathaekae halos aioniou

a covenant of salt for ever -  (II Chronicles 13:5). Salt was the natural emblem of

that which is incorruptible; wherefore a binding alliance was (and still is) made by

eating bread and salt together, and salt was always added to the sacrifices of the

Lord (Leviticus 2:13; Mark 9:49) - “before the LORD unto thee and to thy seed

with thee.”

 

20 “And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance

in their land,” -  The priests had of necessity homes wherein to live when not

on duty, but they had no territory of their own in the same sense as Jews of other

tribes -“neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and

thine inheritance” - Septuagint, ἐγὼ μερίς σου καὶ κληρονομία σου

Ego meris sou kai klaeronomia souI am your portion and your

Inheritance.  This is not to be explained away, as if it meant only that they were to

live “of the altar.” Just as the priests (and in a lesser sense all the Levites) were the

special possession of the Lord, so the Lord was the special possession of the priests;

and inasmuch as all the whole earth belonged to Him, the portion of the priests was,

potentially in all cases, actually for those who were capable of realizing it, infinitely

more desirable than any other portion. The spiritual meaning of the promise was so

clearly felt that it was constantly claimed by the devout in Israel, irrespective of

their ecclesiastical status (Psalm 16:5;Lamentations 3:24) - “among the children

of Israel.”

 

21 “And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth” - The tithe of

all fruits and flocks had been already claimed absolutely by the Lord (Leviticus 27:30,32).

It is probable indeed that the giving of tithes had been more or less a matter of

obligation from time immemorial. Abraham had paid them on one memorable occasion

(Genesis 14:20), and Jacob had vowed them on another (Ibid. ch. 28:22). From this

time forth, however, the tithes were formally assigned to the maintenance of the Levites,

in return for their service - “in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they

serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.”

 

22 “Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle

of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die.” לָשֵׂאת חֵטְא לָמוּת. Septuagint,

λαβεῖν ἀμαρτίαν θανατηφόρονlabein amartian thanataephoronlest they

bear sin and die.   In the sense of incurring sin, and the consequent wrath

 and death.

 

23 “But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation,

and they shall bear (יִשְׂאוּ) their iniquity:” -  The Levites were to take the

responsibility of the general iniquity so far as approach to the tabernacle was

concerned -“it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that

among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.” Like the priests,

they had homes and cities, and they had pasturages attached to these cities, but no

separate territory.

 

24 “But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave

offering” - This means nothing more than an “offering” apparently. It is not to

be supposed that any ritual was observed in the giving of tithes - “unto the LORD,

I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them,

Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.”

 

25  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,” - This part of the instruction

alone is addressed to Moses, probably because it determined a question as between

priests and Levites to the advantage of the former, and therefore would not have

come well from Aaron.

 

26 “Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of

the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them

for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it

for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.” Thus the principle of giving a

tenth part of all to God was carried out consistently throughout the whole of His people.

27 “And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though

it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.”

 

28 “Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all

your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall

give thereof the LORD’s heave offering to Aaron the priest.”   The Levites

tithed the people, the priests tithed the Levites. At this time the other Israelites

were nearly fifty times as numerous as the Levites, and therefore they would

have been exceptionally well provided for. It must be remembered, however,

that the Levites would naturally increase faster than the rest, not being exposed to

the same dangers; and still more that tithes are never paid at all fully or generally,

even when of strict legal obligation. A glance along the history of Israel after the

conquest will satisfy us that at no time could the people at large be trusted

to pay their tithes, unless it were during the ascendancy of the Maccabees,

and afterwards under the influence of the Pharisees (Compare Malachi 3:8-12).

The Levites, indeed, appear in the history of Israel as the reverse of an opulent or

influential class. It was no doubt much easier for the sons of Aaron to obtain their

tithes from the Levites; and as these were very numerous in proportion, and the

tithes themselves were only a part of their revenues, the priests should have been,

and in later times certainly were, sufficiently rich. If they were devout they no

doubt spent much on the service of the altar and of the sanctuary.

 

29 “Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the

LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of

it.”

 

30 “Therefore thou shalt say unto them,” - i.e., to the Levites. When they had

dedicated their tithe of the best part, the rest was theirs exactly as if they had grown

it and gathered it themselves - “When ye have heaved the best thereof from it,

then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor,

and as the increase of the winepress.  31 And ye shall eat it in every place,

ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle

of the congregation.”

 

32 “And ye shall bear no sin” -  עָלָיו לֹא־תִשְׂאוּ. They would not incur

any guilty responsibility by enjoying it as and where they pleased - “by reason

of it, when ye have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall ye pollute

the holy things of the children of Israel, lest ye die.”  This seems to be the

true translation, and it conveyed a final warning. See Leviticus 22:2 for one

very obvious way in which the Levites might pollute “holy things.”

 

 

Responsibilities and Privileges of God’s Servants (vs. 1-32)

 

We have in this chapter, spiritually, the status of those who are iJerei~v tw~|

Qew~| - hiereis to Theo –priests of God -  and dou~lai jIhsou~ Cristou~ -

 doulai Iaesou Christouservants of Jesus Christ -  as being the inheritance

 of the Lord, and (in this world) “having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

(II Corinthians 6:10) – (I recommend Deuteronomy ch 32 v 9 – God’s Inheritance

by Arthur Pink – this web site – CY – 2011)  Much that has been considered

under the head of chapters 3, 4, and 8 is applicable here. Consider, therefore:

 

I. THAT A HEAVY RESPONSIBILITY WEIGHED UPON PRIEST

AND LEVITE IN RESPECT OF THE SANCTUARY, OF WHICH

THEY HAD THE CHARGE AND THE HANDLING. Whatever pollution

came upon it was chargeable upon them in the double sense,

(1) that if due to them, they should suffer for it;

(2) that whether due to them or not, they should be bound to purge

it by atonement.

Even so all the faithful in Christ Jesus are deeply responsible for all the

shame, reproach, and disparagement which comes upon that temple which

is themselves (<490222>Ephesians 2:22; <540315>1 Timothy 3:15; <580306>Hebrews 3:6),

and that in the following senses: —

1. So far as such evils may be due to their own sin or carelessness

(<401806>Matthew 18:6, 7; <451415>Romans 14:15, 16; <461032>1 Corinthians 10:32;

<470603>2 Corinthians 6:3; <520522>1 Thessalonians 5:22).

2. So far as the evil can be undone or counteracted by their own piety and

zeal (<400516>Matthew 5:16; <504415>Philippians 2:15, 16; <600212>1 Peter 2:12).

3. If this cannot be, then at least to this extent, that they bear it on their

heart in sorrow and in prayer (<260904>Ezekiel 9:4; <270920>Daniel 9:20; <461225>1

Corinthians 12:25, 26; <471129>2 Corinthians 11:29). Nothing is worse than the

complacency with which Christians regard the scandals of religion,

although such are often due in part to themselves, or might in part be cured

by their own efforts, or should at least be a cause of inward grief and

humiliation to them as members of Christ.

II. THAT A SIMILAR RESPONSIBILITY ATTACHED TO THE

PRIESTHOOD IN RESPECT TO ALL FAULTS AND

IMPERFECTIONS ATTENDING ITS EXERCISE. Even so it is no light

or trivial thing to have received an unction from the Holy One, making us,

in any sense of the words, priests unto God. There are no vain titles in the

kingdom of heaven to gratify man’s love of distinction; whatever we have

is a dispensation committed unto us (<460917>1 Corinthians 9:17); any ministry

in discharged, made a scandal or offence, is ruin to the soul (<460402>1

Corinthians 4:2; <510417>Colossians 4:17; <540416>1 Timothy 4:16; <660302>Revelation

3:2, 15, 16).

III. THAT THEY WERE UNDER SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO

WATCH THEIR WATCH AND OBSERVE THE DUTIES OF THEIR

OFFICE ABOUT THE SANCTUARY AND THE ALTAR, lest wrath

should come upon the people. Even so the custodians of Divine truth are

under special obligation to guard most carefully and reverently the two

doctrines of Jesus in heaven (“that within the vail,” <580619>Hebrews 6:19, 20)

and of Jesus upon the cross (<580914>Hebrews 9:14), lest, either being tampered

with, damage should accrue to the souls of men.

IV. THAT THE OFFICE OF THE PRIESTS WAS “A SERVICE OF

GIFT.” Even so every office in the Church of God is a service, for there is

no such thing as a sinecure in the kingdom of heaven; and it is a service of

gift, because it is not a matter of earthly honor, or of pay, or of human

choice, or even of personal aptness, but of free grace and gift on the part of

God — a trust conferred, a bounty bestowed.

V. THAT THE PRIESTS “WERE PARTAKERS WITH THE ALTAR.”

Even so hath the Lord ordained, &c. (<460913>1 Corinthians 9:13, 14).

Consider again, with respect to the Levites —

I. THAT THEY WERE GIVEN TO AARON TO “WATCH HIS

WATCH” AND “THE WATCH OF ALL THE TABERNACLE.” Even so

are all the kindred of Christ given unto him to be his soldiers and servants

to keep his watches, and to be the guardians of his spiritual house until he

come again (<411335>Mark 13:35-37; <461613>1 Corinthians 16:13; <490515>Ephesians

5:15; <661615>Revelation 16:15).

II. THAT WHILE EVER WATCHFUL AND ON THE ALERT, THEY

MUST NOT INTRUDE UPON THE SACRED THINGS OF THE

SANCTUARY? OR THE ALTAR, ON PAIN OF DEATH.

Even so it is fatal presumption and loss of spiritual life when men leave

their practical duties to “intrude” by vain speculation into “those things

which they have not seen” in the heavenly state; or when they pry curiously

into the unrevealed mysteries of the cross, “which things the angels desire

to look into,” yet forbear, because it is not given them to understand

(<510218>Colossians 2:18; <600112>1 Peter 1:12).

Consider again, with respect to Aaron and the people at large —

I. THAT EVERY OBLATION OR OFFERING OF THEIRS WAS

GIVEN TO AARON. Even so everything which the piety or gratitude of

man freely offers to God has been made over to Christ, as the High Priest

of our profession, by an indefeasible title (<401127>Matthew 11:27a; 28:18b;

<460323>1 Corinthians 3:23).

II. THAT THE FIRST AND BEST (THE FAT) OF EVERYTHING was

TO BE GIVEN TO GOD AND TO AARON. Even so ought every faithful

person to dedicate the first and best of all he has (or is) to the Lord and his

Christ. It is a fearful thing to put him off with the odds and ends of our

time, the gleanings of our mind and thought, the stray coins of our wealth.

III. THAT EVERYTHING UNDER A BAN — A VOW, OR CURSE —

WAS GIVEN TO AARON. Even so does every soul devoted to

destruction, every soul under the curse, belong to Christ, because he was

made a curse for us, and devoted himself to death and wrath for our

redemption; wherefore all souls are his, being given unto him of the Father

for his portion.

IV. THAT ALL THE PEOPLE WERE TO PAY TITHES TO THE

LEVITES, AND THE LEVITES THEMSELVES TO AARON, and thus

the principle was doubly maintained that a tenth part of all was due to God

for the support of religion. Aaron did not pay tithes, because he was the

figure of Christ himself. Even so all good Christian people are bound, not

of necessity to give an exact and literal tenth, but certainly no less than

that, unless they think that their obligation to God is less than that of the

Jews. This may be enforced by the following considerations: —

1. We are as much beholden for all we have to the mere bounty of

Providence as the Jews.

2. We are in at least as much danger of covetousness as they.

3. We are much more in the practice of luxury and superfluity than they.

4. We are more distinctly called to a voluntary choice of (comparative)

poverty than they (<401322>Matthew 13:22; 19:23; <540606>1 Timothy 6:6-10).

5. There is more need of abundant offerings now than then, because we

have all the world to evangelize, instead of a single temple with its services

to maintain.

6. Our giving should be more ample, just because it is left to the holy

impulse of faith and love. God has refrained from demanding a tenth in

order that we might freely give — more (<390310>Malachi 3:10; <402613>Matthew

26:13; <440245>Acts 2:45; 20:35; <570119>Philemon 1:19, &c.).

V. THAT THE LEVITES, HAVING “HEAVED FROM THE BEST” OF

ALL THEY RECEIVED, WERE THEN TO ENJOY THE REMAINDER

WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE. Even so the servants of Christ, when

they have dedicated (and only when) the best of all they have — time,

money, talents, opportunities, influence — to the direct service of Christ,

may enjoy the good things which fall to them with singleness and gladness

of heart (<421141>Luke 11:41; <440246>Acts 2:46; <540618>1 Timothy 6:18; and cf. <111713>1

Kings 17:13 sq.).

Consider again, with respect to priests and Levites —

THAT THEY HAD NO INHERITANCE AMONGST THE TRIBES,

BUT THE LORD WAS THEIR PORTION AND THEIR

INHERITANCE. Even so hath the Lord given unto us no inheritance in

this world, because he himself is ours, as we are his. We do indeed have

(most of us) many things richly to enjoy, but these are Dot our own, as the

world counts its good things its own, but are only lent for an uncertain

season (<421611>Luke 16:11, 12 — what we have here is “another man’s,” as

distinguished from “our own”); and that we have anything at all is only of

indulgence, not of right, nor of promise (<401921>Matthew 19:21; <421233>Luke

12:33; <431633>John 16:33; <441422>Acts 14:22 b; <590205>James 2:5); and, further,

whatever we have we hold only on condition of giving it up at once,

without complaint or astonishment, if called thereunto (<421426>Luke 14:26;

<581034>Hebrews 10:34; <590110>James 1:10; <660317>Revelation 3:17; 12:11).

Nevertheless, we are not poor, though having nothing; but rich beyond

compare, having the Pearl of great price, and the Treasure (albeit “hid” for

the present, <510203>Colossians 2:3), and the bright and morning Star (<610119>2

Peter 1:19 b), and in him all things indeed (<460321>1 Corinthians 3:21, 22;

<470418>2 Corinthians 4:18; <660320>Revelation 3:20; cf. <011501>Genesis 15:1 b;

<191605>Psalm 16:5; 73:26, &c.).

Consider again, with respect to sacrifice —

THAT CERTAIN THINGS MOST HOLY MIGHT BE CONSUMED

ONLY WITHIN THE SACRED PRECINCTS BY THE PRIESTS

THEMSELVES; OTHERS HOLY, BUT NOT SO HOLY, AT HOME

BY ALL MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY. Even so there are things

pertaining to the one sacrifice for sin with which none may intermeddle but

the priest himself of the sacrifice; others which may be shared in common

amongst all members of the family of Christ. Or, in another sense, there are

aspects of the atonement which can only be made our own in a religious

solitude and retirement, and which are profaned by being brought abroad;

others, again, which befit the common and social life of Christian people,

always providing that no “uncleanness,” i.e., no unrepented sin, hinder

them from having part or lot therein.

 

 

 

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