BIBLE STUDY SERIES #335, 336 and 337

26 April, 1998

LEVITICAL DEDICATION - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our sequence of Bible Studies, beginning at Genesis 12 several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has led us down the generations of his progeny to the Sinai Wilderness camp of the Tribes of Israel, directed by God, and with Moses as the national leader. We had read, and for the most part considered, the Scriptural passages of Numbers 8 to the end of verse 13 on the last study. That passage had given us some understanding of the significance of the ceremonial dedication of the Levitical Priests for their special services within the Tabernacle, and we had consulted some helpful references on the matter. We had not time to finish the passage then, so perhaps we could read that part now.

14. Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.
15. And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.
16. For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.
17. For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.
18. And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.
19. And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.
20. And Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites according unto all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them.
21. And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the LORD; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.

Let us, at this point consult Keil and Delitzsch, as that reference is always a useful source of insight, and so we might well avail ourselves of the benefit of that source before we move on.

They note that the washing performed by the Levites was not like that for the cleansing ceremony of the leper, nor, they maintain, was the cutting of the hair in normal fashion, here described, like the shaving of all hair from the body as performed by the cleansed leper. Neither was their washing of the nature to prepare them for handling the most holy instruments as this was the duty of the priests, and not a part of the regular duties of Levites. "The washing of clothes, on the other hand, was a thing generally required as a preparation for acts of worship ... and was omitted in the case of the consecration of the priests, simply because they received a holy official dress." Of verse 10, in which "the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites" they explain that this referred to the congregation, in the persons of the tribe princes of the tribes of Israel, who were their heads and representatives, present for the ceremony. This laying on of hands was not merely as a sign that they released them from the possession of the nation and assigned them and handed them over to Jehovah, but in order that by this symbolical act they might transfer to the Levites the obligation resting upon the whole nation to serve the Lord in the persons of its first-born sons, and might present them to the Lord as representatives of the first-born of Israel, to serve Him as living sacrifices. Probably in the ceremony of "waving" each Levite was conducted by Aaron "solemnly up to the altar, and then back again." In the next verses we see the ceremony being carried out.

Probably not every Israelite would be in the immediate vicinity of The Tabernacle. Within a tribal populace of perhaps two or three million people, there were probably some who would have more distant duties, like the watchmen on sentry duty. Doubtless some would be stationed to guard the multitude from any possible danger of surprise by a thieving enemy raiding party that might seek to take advantage of the general absence of overseers of the flocks and herds. The chance approach of a wild animal hungering for a free meal at some herdsman's expense must also be taken into account. Some individuals might be too old to attend, and indeed be lying in their tents near their appointed span of years, and in need of attention by another member of their family. We might even speculate on the possibility that there could, indeed, have been women in labour, or some children whose injuries would have required family attention. We can imagine, amidst so many people, there would be occasion then, for some in the assigned tribal encampments to count upon family and friends to bring them the news of what transpired that day by word of mouth.

In a sense, then, we might think of these verses of Scripture as representing for us, though parted by time at the distance of millennia, like those words reported to some who could not easily attend. However, for the vast multitudes of Israelites that day, we might imagine a most devout assembling of many hundreds of thousands of people with scarcely a murmur to disturb the tranquil serenity of a national gathering, about the general precincts of their glorious new Tabernacle upon which much devoted labour had been gladly contributed. Their Tribal Princes and leaders would be brought near and assigned their stations according to plan. The priests would be garbed in the white linen which marked their office, and sensing their grave responsibilities, they would doubtless be hushed in reverent attitude, while the rest of the Levites were placed in position to take their part when the turn of each to be presented before The LORD approached. What feelings must have imbued these Levites, for in each case we might count this to be a highlight in their life, indeed a new beginning as they began this service to which each had been called by The LORD Himself through Moses. Let us then, continue with the reading from verse 22:

22. And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.
23. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
24. This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:
25. And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:
26. But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.

Here, The New Bible Commentary, under the sub-heading "The age of Levitical service (viii. 23-26)", notes "This brief section states that the Levites are to carry on the service of the tabernacle from the age of twenty-five to the age of fifty. In chapter iv the age of beginning of service was given as thirty. It would seem that from twenty-five to thirty the Levites were in a sort of apprenticeship, unless the legislation in chapter iv be taken to apply only to the wilderness period. Verses 25, 26 describe a limited retirement after fifty. They no longer do the heavy tasks of waiting upon the service of the tabernacle, but they minister with their brethren in keeping charge, doing lighter tasks and exerting a certain amount of oversight. Our God sometimes works wonderful things through the very young, and sometimes gives people strength long after the normal age; yet there is a normal procedure which is found to work out in most cases."

Keil and Delitzsch explain the content of these verses thus: "'Charge' (mishmereth), as distinguished from 'work', signifies the oversight of all the furniture of the tabernacle ...; 'work' (service) applied to laborious service, e.g. the taking down and setting up of the tabernacle and cleaning it, carrying wood and water for the sacrificial worship, slaying the animals for the daily and festal sacrifices of the congregation, etc.." They explain the variance of the years of service here from that contained in chapter 4 by the comment that here, the law was binding for all time, and was intended to apply to the standing service of the Levites at the sanctuary. In the wilderness, moving of the Tabernacle would require more heavy labour than simply serving within it, and that heavier service, they consider to have been appropriate to the stronger, older ones who would be better able to handle the movement of the structure on the wilderness journey. They continue by the further note that "At a later period, when the sanctuary was permanently established on Mount Zion, David employed the Levites from their twentieth year (I Chron. xxiii. 24, 25), and expressly stated that he did so because the Levites had no longer to carry the dwelling and its furniture; and this regulation continued in force from that time forward ... ."

I will leave this thought with you for a meditation this week. Our Federation affirms that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today are direct descendants of those Israelites who lived so long ago. May we, if Our LORD calls us to do the service of a Levite among our family, friends and neighbours, and our nation at large, be likewise devout in our attitude, respectful of the honour imparted to us in this service.

3 May, 1998

NATIONAL DEDICATION - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our sequence of Bible Studies, beginning at Genesis 12 several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has led us down the generations of his progeny to the Sinai Wilderness camp of the Tribes of Israel, directed by God, and with Moses as the national leader. We had read and considered the Scriptural passages of Numbers 8 to the end of that chapter on the last study. That passage had given us some insight into the consecration and service of the Levites. Today we move on to Numbers, chapter 9, which begins with a passage dealing with the keeping of the Passover at an appointed time in the year, and what was done when a particular problem arose in this regard at the time of this observance in the wilderness of Sinai.

Do keep in mind the intent of this observance. The blood of a spotless lamb which had been picked out from the flock and observed to insure its condition and then slain to serve as the meal prior to departure, had been placed upon the lintels and door posts of each Israelite dwelling in Egypt. This had been done in order to insure safety in the night on which the angel of death had swept away the firstborn of those who had been oppressing and killing the children of God's Firstborn nation, Israel herself. Keil and Delitzsch indicate the proceedings would now involve the sprinkling of the paschal blood upon the altar of burnt offerings. Here, in this observance which was to be nationally kept, we see the provision, in symbol, of the Calvary Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension of Our LORD which we have been observing during the Easter celebrations this past month.

The Companion Bible explains in brief that, whereas Numbers Chapter 8 deals with Laws for the Priests, Chapter 9 deals with Laws for the People. Let us begin by reading the passage from Numbers 9:1-8.

1. And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,
2. Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.
3. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.
4. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.
5. And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.

The note in The Companion Bible states that this was the second of ten such occurrences. A note in The New Bible Commentary states, in introducing Numbers 9, "Again a chapter begins with a date which precedes that of Nu. i 1. Yet this chapter is both chronologically and logically in its proper place, since its principal event, the special Passover, occurred just six days before the beginning of the wilderness journey. Shortly before the commencement of the events described in Nu. i, the first memorial Passover was observed (1-5). In accordance with all the regulations prescribed in Ex. xii. Then a new problem arose. Some of the people in the camp were faced with a question of conflicting laws. All Israelites must keep the Passover or be cut off from God's people. Yet men who had touched a dead body were defiled and could not keep the Passover. What should be done in such a case?"

6. And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day:
7. And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the LORD in his appointed season among the children of Israel?
8. And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.

Here, we meet a problem which was faced by certain men in the encampment who, by reason of their duties, were rendered ceremonially unclean according to the law in Leviticus 7:21, as Keil and Delitzsch point out. The Companion Bible notes that the keeping of this observance was during the week of Aaron's consecration, in the month Abib. It further notes that as it was in the first month of the second year after the children of Israel had emerged from Egypt that the command came to Moses, it was, therefore, before the numbering which was on the first day of the second month, as commanded in Numbers 1:1-2. It further explains that the men were probably Mishael and Elizaphan, who had buried Nadab and Abihu, the two sons of Aaron who had brought strange fire, as it is termed, before The LORD, and there died as mentioned in Leviticus 10:1-4; these two men, Mishael and Elizaphan, who carried out the burial of those two sons of Aaron as commanded, were thus rendered unclean, and could not keep the passover as seen in Numbers 19:11; 5:2. The incident is explained in Leviticus 10:1-7.

The New Bible Commentary note on the passage continues: "The problem of conflicting laws is often a difficult one." It relates an example sometimes encountered by modern Jews wherein one law expresses a rule that every firstborn child must fast at certain times. The observance of this rule could, however, conflict with observance of another rule which says that whenever the reading of a portion of the Scripture is completed there shall be a time of celebration. One or the other may have to be disregarded. It is important, therefore, to see that the more vitally important law is retained, but the danger is that the reverse will happen if men are interested in keeping the letter of the law rather than its spirit and resort to the expedient of reading the last few chapters of a book at such a time that they will complete it just prior to the day when they are supposed to fast and then take their choice of the two conflicting laws and follow the one that allows them to ignore the fast.

The Commentary further states: "The situation described in our passage was not of this type. The men seem to have been sincerely anxious to follow God's will. So they came before Moses (6) with their problem and he laid it before the Lord (8). In answer to Moses' request for information, the Lord declared that a second Passover could be held a month after the regular one for the sake of those who had been unable to participate for the reason given, or had been far off on a journey. This is an illustration of the principle stated by Christ in Mk. ii. 27 that 'the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath'. God's regulations are to be carried out exactly as far as possible; but when something interferes, the time may be changed to meet the emergency. It is interesting to note that while verse 10 makes special allowance for a man who is on a journey, no provision is made for permanent domicile abroad. This would be a strange omission if the critics were right in their claim that this section is post-exilic and was given to people whose centre of gravity was in Babylon."

9. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
10. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD.
11. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

This was therefore one month later than the appointed day. I would add that we ought to consider how very important it was for the whole tribal nation corporately, as a nation, to serve its One and Only Lord, The Almighty God, on the specific day, and in the precise manner commanded by Him. If any in the encampment were of a different mind, they certainly were not making any noise about it, for the penalty would doubtless have been obvious and swift, as we may determine by the contents of the passages which follow the words which we are now considering. If God was displeased with variances which are recorded herein, how must He view the present deplorable spiritual state of the nations of modern day Israel, the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of this modern world! Although we shall not have time to comment upon the next few verses, we may just have time to read them, and let your meditations for the coming week centre upon the symbolic meaning embodied within the words. Let us continue, then, at verse 12, concerning the ordering of the Passover meal:

12. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.
13. But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.
14. And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.

We shall continue these studies next week, considering how these Scriptures fit into the conflict between the multi-cult concept of current vogue and the ordering of His nation by the soon-returning Almighty God in Jesus Christ..

10 May, 1998

NATIONAL DEDICATION - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our sequence of Bible Studies, beginning at Genesis 12 several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has led us down the generations of his progeny to the Sinai Wilderness camp of the Tribes of Israel, directed by God, and with Moses as the national leader. We had read and considered the Scriptural passages of Numbers 9 to the end of verse 11, and read a preview of the succeeding three verses of that chapter on the last study. That passage had given us some insight into the consecration of the tribal nation. As we are about to make comment upon those last verses, perhaps we ought to review them briefly, beginning at verse 12:

12. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.
13. But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.
14. And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.

As we are considering today's Scripture from the standpoint of the nation, we might do well to consider what makes a nation at all in the true sense of the term. Today we find those of the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world, totally unaware for the most part of their true ancestry and lineage in descent from these same ancient tribesmen of Israel. What, then, do they have of culture, of history, and of racial background which causes them to form a single group of nations at all? The one-world planners would like to eradicate all sense of nationhood, replacing it with what we might call "provincialism" for purposes of re-designing the entire body of the world's population into their "New World Order." This, by multicult definition, cannot avoid being driven into confrontational rebellion against Jesus Christ, the Returning King of all the people on earth. Prophetically, He has an especial dominance concerning those descended from Jacob, because as the angel told Mary, at the time of The Annunciation, "... the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." We might, then, ponder this conflict of Satanic stimulus against The Almighty God, in light of what follows.

The New Bible Commentary on verses 11-12 notes that they "contain a brief summary of the commands given in Ex. xii (see especially Ex. xii. 46), so that, even though the Passover is held a month late, it may be certain that its full meaning is clear to those who partake of it. They are to eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs and not a bone of the sacrificial lamb is to be broken. This represents in advance the bitter anguish of the death of Christ, the Lamb without blemish, slain for us and not a bone of Him broken (cf. Jn. xix. 36). In this connection we may note the account in 2 Ch. xxx of a great Passover which was held after a period of neglect of God's ordinances. When it was decided to do this, there was not time enough to prepare to celebrate it at the regular time; therefore it was held on the fourteenth day of the second month. God seems to have wonderfully blessed that Passover, even though it was a month after the regular date. Under normal conditions postponement of the Passover to the second month is strictly forbidden (13). Unless one really has a valid reason for missing the regular Passover, he must observe it at its proper time or be cut off from among God's people."

Further, the Commentary notes, of the mention of a stranger, that "God always provided opportunity for Gentiles to enter into the family of Israel." The New Bible Commentary appears slightly confused at this point, so lest there be a misunderstanding I think a few words of explanation are in order, so that we may more clearly see what the Exodus 12 passage, to which the Commentary makes reference, actually is stating. The term "Gentiles" which the Commentary uses here more probably should be used as much for Israelites as for any of other nations. Further, the Commentary goes on to make a statement of which I find the exactitude debatable. It states: "To guard against any misunderstanding He (God) stressed this fact by repeating the principle, already stated in Ex. xii. 45-49, that a stranger who sojourns among the Israelites can become an Israelite. In this case he is to observe the Passover in exactly the same way as if he had been born an Israelite (14)." ... The writer of The Commentary is not ignorant concerning the assorted groups generally termed collectively as "strangers", which are distinguished by a variety of terms, as we see from the referenced note on Deuteronomy 1:16, so I am surprised at the failure to distinguish these more precisely in the comments at Numbers 9 regarding the Exodus 12 passage. The Commentary continues: "Blessing before God was never simply a matter of birth. God promises to show His mercy to thousands of generations of those who love Him, but His mercy is always available to anyone who will join His people, taking upon himself the sign of faith in God's provision for cleansing from sin, which at that time was circumcision (Rom. iv. 11)." With the latter statement, we would not find fault. However, the inexact treatment of the word "stranger" needs some straightening out.

In the AV, there are four main Hebrew words which are all translated "stranger." These are given in Young's Concordance. The first is "ger", meaning "a man, a sojourner", as, for example, Abram's seed, who were to "be a stranger in a land that is not their's" in Genesis 15:13. The second is "toshab", meaning "a settler", as in Leviticus 25:6, 45, 47, "a stranger that sojourneth with thee"; that might be either taken as bondman by an Israelite, or who, in turn, if he becomes rich and buying an Israelite, must allow the Israelite's redemption by an Israelite kinsman redeemer. Third, "nokri" meaning "strange, a stranger or foreigner", as in Judges 19:12; one not of the children of Israel, and as in I Kings 11:1; the many strange wives which old King Solomon took, as listed: Pharaoh's daughter, and women of Moab, Ammon, Edom, Zidon and the Hittites. The fourth word, "zar" means "a stranger, alien", who might be, as in Numbers 16:40, one who is not of the seed of Aaron; one of an alien, presumptuous or antagonistic mind, and thus an enemy. Such must never, for example, approach the LORD to offer incense as did Korah and his 250 followers in the camp, and who perished before The LORD for that rebellion. The word used in our present study, in Numbers 9:14, is the first term, "ger", one who might not have been born in the land, but who was fitted to participate in service before The LORD.

The reference to Exodus 12:45-49 alludes to a scripture in which several different terms appear. If we examine the words in context from verse 43 on, we find (if Israel herself be included), six groups designated by different terms. The passage states quite clearly of the Passover that (v. 43) ...there shall no stranger (ben nekar) eat thereof. (44) But every man's servant that is bought for money (ebed), when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. (45) A foreigner (toshab) and an hired servant (sakir) shall not eat thereof. .... (47) All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. (48) And when a stranger (ger) shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." You see that it is not a simple statement. The passage in Exodus 12 defines quite precisely which people and under which circumstance, may approach to keep this passover.

Perhaps, as the next passage paints such a thrilling picture of the manner by which The LORD God led His people throughout their years of wanderings in the Wilderness of Sinai, we ought to place that section apart as a special study all on its own. However we do have time to simply read some of those wonderful words of Scripture, to close today's meditation. We shall not have time to read to the final verses of the passage however, so if you want to get out your Bible, this week, and thrill at the description portrayed, perhaps we can just encourage you by giving you a taste of it in the next few verses, beginning at verse 15:


15. And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.
16. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
17. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.
18. At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.

Well, that is all we have time for today. May your meditations be blessed in that passage from Numbers chapter 9.

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