“The ancestral tribe of the Levites, however, was not counted along with the others. The Lord had said to Moses: “You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites. Instead, appoint the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle of the covenant law—over all its furnishings and everything belonging to it.”-Numbers 1:47-50
In our study of the census in Numbers chapter one, did you notice the absence of one of the tribes of Israel?
The tribe of Levi is NOT included in this census!
There were other instances when the Levites were counted but it had nothing to do with being conscripted for military service.
From here on out, the Levites will have a special status and be considered separate from common Israel.
The Levites would be held responsible for the care, maintenance and PROTECTION of the Wilderness Tabernacle.
When the Lord signaled to Israel that it was time to move from one location to another, it was the Levites who had to take apart the Tabernacle and then upon arrival at their new destination reassemble it again.
The tabernacle was God’s Holy sanctuary and was going to be central to the worship of Israel for many, many years to come.
This importance was accentuated by how the Levites were physically positioned in the camp in relation to the other 12 tribes.
They were to create a defensive barrier by pitching their tents between the 12 tribes and the wilderness sanctuary.
Why was it so important for the Levites to keep the sanctuary carefully guarded?
Verse 53 says it all.
“The Levites, however, are to set up their tents around the tabernacle of the covenant law so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelite community. The Levites are to be responsible for the care of the tabernacle of the covenant law.”
Given all of the study we did while in Leviticus about the difference between the COMMON and the HOLY, it should be pretty obvious why the tabernacle, the holiest object on earth at the time, had to be guarded.
If a common Israelite were to touch or enter a holy place he was not allowed to, instant death would result.
This special election of the Levites is similar to an event recorded for us in the Book of Genesis.
Recall when Jacob adopted Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, away from Joseph.
Under normal circumstances, Ephraim and Manasseh would have just grown to become clans.
But due to their special election, they were elevated to the status of “tribe” on par with the other native-born tribes of Israel.
In an instant Joseph’s two sons were changed from being grandsons of Jacob to being full-fledged sons of Jacob.
There aren’t words to describe how weird and unusual this action was.
However, we have God doing the very same thing with the Levites.
He elected them and adopted them away from common Israel to be His special servants.
Keep this special election of the Levites in mind as we move forward because it’s key to understanding a lot of what will unfold in the Scripture.
The election of the Tribe of Levi communicates to us a very important principle that goes against the teachings of the gentile church and worldly philosophy in general.
Here’s what you’ve got to understand.
God is not a politically correct being.
He absolutely does NOT view everyone as the same and equal.
God makes distinctions and divides and separates.
And what we can discern from His election of the Levites from within Israel is that God is in the business of dividing and elevating His chosen servants away from everybody else and giving them a special status.
The Levites were considered so unique that they weren’t even considered a part of Israel.
They were chosen people from among a chosen people.
In my next post, I want to talk about how this principle directly applies to believers in Messiah Yeshua, whether of Jewish or gentile extract.