Today’s Reading: Numbers 3-4
Today’s Reflection: Numbers 3:10
“And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall guard their priesthood. But if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death.”
Numbers chapter 3:1-39 lay out the identity and duties of the people God appointed and anointed to be the priests of Israel: the tribe of Levi and their key tasks. As verse 10 makes clear this duty is one so solemn and critical that anyone other than a Levite trying to participate or interfere is to be put to death. But why? If Israel is God’s chosen people, why are all but one tribe restricted from serving God in this capacity? The answer lies in the choices made by the children of Israel themselves.
God’s original intention was to raise up all of Israel to serve Him as priests, but shortly after liberating them from slavery in Egypt we see the reluctance coming from the people God saved to be His very own. In Exodus 20, after proclaiming the 10 Commandments, God gives the children of Israel the opportunity to hear from Him directly. Here is how they respond:
18) Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19) and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20) Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21) The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
Not only do they remain distant from the God who saved them, but in a matter of days after Moses ascends into the mountain they decide to make an idol and worship it as their saviour (Exodus 32:1-6). When Moses returns and sees the extent of their sin, he calls for those who are on the Lord’s side to come to him. Only the tribe of Levi responds to the call and for this they are entrusted with the responsibility of serving the Lord in His tabernacle (Exodus 32:26).
What’s also significant about this is the generational impact. The responsibility and privilege of serving God belonged to the Levites through their generations, and was withheld from the other tribes throughout their generations. The effects of sin or obedience, their legacy, lived long beyond them, impacting their children, children’s children, children’s children’s children, and so on.
While God makes it clear that each person is responsible for their own sin alone, and not for that of their parents (Deuteronomy 24:16), it is also clear that the legacy of a person or group of people has an effect on their descendents. Noah’s obedience ensured his family’s survival; Lot’s faithfulness before God ensured his daughter’s survival; Abraham, Issac and Jacob’s faithfulness ensured their children would become God’s chosen people; and the Levites faithfulness before God ensured they alone would serve before God as the priests of His temple.
As you reflect on this, consider your life and what your legacy will be. What heritage will your descendents inherit from you?