"LET THERE BE LIGHT" Ministries
LET THEM MAKE ME A SANCTUARY, part 9 quotes
1) “And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:3-6.
2) “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel...Thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix...” Exodus 13:2, 12.
All the male children who first “openeth the matrix” of “the womb”, were to be set apart and sanctified unto the Lord. God was ultimately the One who allowed them to be born first in the first place, and thus were specifically chosen by God Himself to be His.
These particular sons were known as the “firstborn”, and were considered to be the “beginning” of the “might” and “strength” of the father, “the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power” (Genesis 49:3). The firstborn son also had what was called the “birthright” (Genesis 43:33). This birthright was a distinct privilege which gave him preeminence above all other siblings in the family (Genesis 43:33).
These birthright privileges, honors and blessings to the first born son included several things:
1) - The birthright allowed “a double portion” of the inheritance of his father’s estate to be given him (Deuteronomy 21:17).
2) - The birthright allowed him to take over the priestly functions as head of the family (Genesis 8:20 – with firstborn Noah; Genesis 12:7-8 with firstborn Abram), or as head of the tribe (Numbers 17:2-3 – Aaron was firstborn and also head of the tribe of Levi), or as head of the kingdom (2 Chronicles 21:3).
3) - The genealogy of the family was to be “reckoned after the birthright” (1 Chronicles 5:1). If the first born son remained faithful, he was in line to be the possible progenitor or direct ancestor of the future Messiah – which would be God’s only begotten and first born Son (see genealogy of sons in connection with the Messiah listed in Luke 3:23-38; Matthew 1:1-17). It was thus God’s plan to take the first born son from each family and make them special among His followers by bringing them into a very close connection with Himself.
God claimed all the firstborn as being specifically His, “for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be” (Numbers 3:13). Because God had “sanctified them for myself” (Numbers 8:17), then out of all Israelite families “the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me” (Exodus 22:29). This meant that all first born sons were to be sanctified, hallowed, and set apart for the Lord: they were to be holy men and given to the Lord to be directly connected with His service as representatives of the future born Christ and Messiah – the Son of Almighty God.
3) “Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” Exodus 32:1.
A golden calf was made which was the sacred animal of the Egyptians and the symbol of their supreme god Amun Ra! Once this golden calf had been reared up, the Israelites declared “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4), and they began to worship it.
In their worship of this false god, they followed in the pagan ways of Egypt and “offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6). This rising up of the mass of Israelites to “play” included them singing and making music to this false god (Exodus 32:19), then the singing and music led them into “dancing” before this false god (Exodus 32:19), and finally the combination of the singing, music and dancing led the Israelites to take off their clothes becoming “naked”, and then joining in the sensual practices of an pagan orgy (Exodus 32:25).
4) “...thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the Lord) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel...and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord.” Numbers 3:41, 45).
God chose all the Levite sons in the place of “all the firstborn of the children of Israel” (Numbers 8:18), and all “the cattle of the Levites” were also chosen “instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel” (Numbers 3:41). This then meant that the Lord God was forced to alter and change His original plan and purpose for His people because of their apostasy against Him! This revealed that the mighty Lord God can easily change or alter any of His original plans and purposes for His people if they choose to no longer obey His will and keep His commandments.
All of the high purposes and exalted plans God has in store for His people, as well as all of the promises of God’s favor and blessings He desires to shower upon them, are based upon the condition of their continued obedience and faithfulness to Him. Should any of His people choose to disobey God, then they cannot expect Him to continue fulfilling His plans and purposes for them, or to continue favoring and blessing them, because they are no longer living up to their covenant promise to remain faithful to Him. This means that there is no justification for any follower of God, or any groups or churches of God, to believe that they are still entitled to receive God’s favor and His blessings while they are living in disobedience to His will and breaking His commandments. This includes the birthright of the firstborn!
Because of his great sin of adultery, Reuben – who was the firstborn son of Jacob – lost his birthright to his brother Joseph (1 Chronicles 5:2). Reuben also lost the honor of being the possible progenitor of the future Messiah to his brother Judah (1 Chronicles 5:2), and because of the unfaithfulness of Reuben’s offspring, also lost the priesthood to the offspring of Levi (Numbers 3:6-7). On the other hand, because of David’s great faithfulness in connection with the Lord God, he received the birthright honor of being the actual progenitor of the future Messiah, even though he was not the firstborn son of his father Jesse (see Luke 3:23, 31; Matthew 1:1, 17). So this again shows us that because of unfaithfulness, God is not forced to continue using us in His service, but can easily set us aside and choose others to take our place. And it also shows us that because of our faithfulness to God, He can then exalt us from our humble position to occupy a much greater position.
5) Since there “were twenty and two thousand” of the sons from the tribe of Levithem (Numbers 3:39) who were to serve in the Sanctuary, which particular positions of ministerial service would each son have?
Out of all these 22,000 Levites, the Lord God Himself chose Aaron, the elder brother of Moses and the firstborn of Amram (Numbers 26:59; Exodus 7:7), as well as Aaron’s sons, “to minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Exodus 28:1, 29:44). Aaron “was anointed with the holy oil” (Numbers 35:25; Leviticus 8:12) and was known as the high or chief priest among them (Ezra 7:5; Numbers 35:25). While all of Aaron’s sons were known as the common priests. Only Aaron, his sons and their male offspring could officiate as the priests in God’s sanctuary.
Both Aaron as the high priest, as well as his sons as the common priests, were sanctified and set apart for the priesthood before the whole congregation of the Israelites (Leviticus 8:1-36). Thus every single Israelite knew exactly who were the priests that would minister for them before God, and they also knew what positions of authority these priests held in the work. And as the Israelites saw and understood these facts, they could not help but notice the stark contrast between the chosen priesthood of the Lord God, versus the chosen priesthood of the pagans.
The pagans allowed any man that wanted to become a priest in their temple to do so, no matter how lowly or sinful they might be, as long as they were wealthy enough “to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams” (2 Chronicles 13:9). This method of selecting the priesthood increased the likelihood of corruption.
As the priesthood was chosen by God Himself and limited to only Aaron and his offspring then the office of the high or chief priest had to be inherited by the firstborn or eldest living son (Numbers 20:28 – for Eleazar, the eldest remaining son after his two elder brothers had died; Joshua 22:31 – firstborn Phinehas obtained the priesthood after his father Eleazar’s death which was promised (Numbers 25:11-13); and in Ezra 7:1-5, you can also see a list of Israelite priests). Not just anyone could become a priest of the Lord God, no matter how much money they might offer for this position, or whatever political connections they might have. This method of selecting priests then built faith in the sanctity of the priesthood connected with God since it eliminated the possibility of the priesthood being obtained through money, bribes, favor, or by royal decree or other political means, and thereby corrupted.
6) The first born sons from among the other 11 tribes who now could no longer be chosen as priests or ministers to serve God in the sanctuary, were instead “to be redeemed” by paying a set redemption price of “five shekels apiece” in “silver” (Numbers 3:46-47). This “redemption money” was to be given for the support of the priests – being Aaron and his sons (Numbers 3:49-51) and who were actually doing the work they should have been doing if they had remained faithful. And further, since the animals of the Levites were chosen above all the rest, then these firstborn animals from the other tribes had to also be redeemed if they were considered “unclean beasts” (Numbers 18:15) which were not proper to offer as a sacrifice to God, or if considered clean beasts then “thou shalt not redeem [them]; they are holy”, and were then to be sacrificed after a portion of their meat had been taken to support the Levites and their families (Numbers 18:17-19).
The priesthood and their families were to live off of these, as well as other sacrifices and offerings that were willingly given by the people. As we saw earlier, these sacrifices included meat, wheat flour and wheat bread. But it also included any of the freewill offerings of the “firstfruits of thy land” (Exodus 23:19), which were all kinds of ripened fruits, grains, as well as wool, fleece, oil, etc. (Leviticus 2:14, 23:10; Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 18:4; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Nehemiah 10:37). In addition to these sacrifices and freewill offerings of the firstfruits, the children of Israel were also to “tithe all the increase” (Deuteronomy 14:22) “of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD...the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD” (Leviticus 27:30-32, see also 2 Chronicles 31:6; Nehemiah 10:38). This tithe or the tenth part of all financial increase to any of the children of Israel were to be “given to the Levites” because of their full-time work in the service of God (Numbers 18:24-26; Nehemiah 10:37-38). This then meant that everything necessary to sustain these Levites in food, housing and living expenses were freely provided to them from the donations given to God by their fellow Israelite brothers and sisters because of their full-time dedication and service for their brothers and sisters before the Lord God.
The Levites were the servants of every member of the congregation of Israel, and the members were not servants of the priests. This divine arrangement kept God's chosen priests humble, and thus always pointing their church members upwards to God and never downwards to themselves. This worked to keep the priests from exalting themselves in the place of God among their people. Any priest who attempted to reverse this proper church order in seeking to rule or lord it over any of his church members, would plainly show that he had apostatized from God, and was himself seeking to become a god among the people! Therefore the only safe course would be to remove that priest from his office so that the church members could be protected from losing their hold on God and being led astray by an apostate and unfaithful priest.
7) Levi had three sons, Gershon (or Gershom), Kohath and Merari (Numbers 3:17), and all the particular non-priestly work connected with the sanctuary was to be divided three ways according to their linage.
-- The offspring from Gershon were placed in charge of taking down or setting up “the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle...the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court...and the cords of it for all the service thereof” (Numbers 3:25-26). And they were to establish their camp directly “behind the tabernacle westward” (Numbers 3:23).
-- The offspring from Kohath were placed in charge of moving or placing “the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary...and the hanging” (Numbers 3:31). Yet they could not perform their duty until “all the vessels of the sanctuary” had been fully covered by the priests so that none could “touch any holy thing” (Numbers 4:15) or “see” any of these sacred items (Numbers 4:20), “lest they die” (Numbers 4:15, 20). These Kohathites were to establish their camp “on the side of the tabernacle southward (Numbers 3:29).
-- The offspring from Merari were placed in charge of taking down or setting up all “the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and all the vessels thereof...And the pillars of the court...and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords” (Numbers 3:36-37). And they were to pitch their camp “on the side of the tabernacle northward” (Numbers 3:35).
During the times in which the Sanctuary was not being moved, these non-priest Levites would help and assist the priests themselves in whatever capacity they could.
Aaron and all his offspring – being the priests, as well as Moses and all his offspring, were to establish their camp directly in front of “the tabernacle of the congregation eastward” (Numbers 3:38). This meant that they were the closest at hand to easily deal with any of the major responsibilities connected with the Lord God Michael and His people.
Once the priesthood had grown in numbers, they were specifically organized into 24 divisions or courses. This number was chosen because Aaron’s son Eleazar had sixteen sons, and his other son Ithamar had eight, so each of these 24 sons were given part of the governorship of the sanctuary (1 Chronicles 24:1-5). Each course of priests would serve for “seven days” at a time (1 Chronicles 9:25), beginning and ending “on the sabbath” (2 Chronicles 23:8), and thus one of the first duties of each new course would be to remove the old bread of the Table Showbread and replace it with new fresh and hot bread every Sabbath.
Not only were the priests divided into 24 divisions, but so were their Levite helpers, and when their turn for 7 days service came they would accompany the new course of the priests and join “with them” (1 Chronicles 9:25) to go together to the house of the Lord. Once the new course of priests and their Levite helpers arrived at the temple, they would not leave it for their entire week of service, but “they lodged round about the house of God” (1 Chronicles 9:27). This division of the priesthood and non-priest Levite helpers allowed them to orderly and quickly attend to all the various duties which needed to be daily performed in the service and worship of the Lord God, and to perfectly and fully accomplish it in unity.