Saturday March 4, 2023
From Numbers 18, 19, and 20 we learn about the duties of priests and Levites, water for cleansing, Moses hitting the rock for water, and the death of Aaron.
Chapter 18 –
The instructions for this chapter serve as an appropriate follow-up to the sin and judgement of chapter 16. The opening verse was a solemn reminder to Aaron, his sons, and his ancestral family that they carried an awesome responsibility as priests., because they would be responsible for iniquity against the sanctuary and iniquity involving the priesthood.
The Lord reminded Aaron the he had been given the Levites so he would not be overwhelmed by their duties. The Old Testament priesthood was a full-time ministry, so God provided for Aaron and his sons from the contributions…all the holy offerings of the Israelites. In the New Testament era, Paul recognized a ministry principle here that applies today. Ministers of the Gospel have a legitimate right to make a living from their work on behalf of the Gospel.
The Levites were also provided for from the offerings God sent a tenth of the Israelites offerings for the Levites to live on, since they also would not receive an inheritance among the Israelites. They were them to give a tenth of the tenth to the Lord
Chapter 19 –
There were many things in the life of the Israelites that had religious symbolism, and death was high on the list. This entire chapter is devoted to rituals of cleansing of the unclean person and even the priest who officiated at the cleansing ceremony.
The priest’s ritual uncleanness is just one element that made everything about this ceremony of the red cow sacrifice different than any other God prescribed. The cow was brought outside the camp and slaughtered; this did not happen at the altar. Instead of the parts being separated they remained intact. This elaborate process continued. Someone who was clean was sent to gather the cow’s ashes and deposit them outside the camp in a ceremonially clean place. This process was necessary to cleans anyone who had come in contact with dead corpse whatever the reason. In other words, sin that that isn’t dealt with contaminates that which is holy; a good principle to remember.
Chapter 20 –
There is no indication of it in this verse, but the first month referred to here is actually the fortieth month of their wandering in the wilderness. This means that the sentence that was placed on them as God pronounced has been served. We can say this because Numbers 33:38 says Aaron died in the fortieth year, and his death is recorded in Numbers 20:22-27.
God had said no one form that generation would enter the promised land. WE have nothing recorded about what happened between the second year and the fortieth year as noting is recorded in scripture.
We do know that there were constant grumblings about the conditions they were in. Once again grumbling now there was no water for the community…they assembled against Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron go the Lord who tells Moses to speak to the rock and water will come forth however Moses in his frustration and anger strikes the rock and water comes forth.
See this in these instructions. It may initially seem like a minor breach of obedience here. Moses totally failed to obey the Lord. Instead of speaking he struck the rock. The consequences for Moses were grave – he would not be allowed to enter the promised land. The people, however, did get their water but Moses and Aron lost their opportunity.
Moses sinned but remained their leader for the rest of his life and he knew the nation needed to move toward Canaan. He had hoped for passage through Edom and sent an appeal to the king seeking permission to pass through. Note the conditions Moses put on passage. He was turned down and Moses pleaded but the king promises military action so they turned away.
At Mount Hor we see the next major event happening. Aaron and Moses both heard the announcement of Aaron’s death from the Lord. He was to die because he and Moses had rebelled against God’s command at the Waters of Meribah. Eleazar was to follow in his father’s path and received the priestly garments as he watched his father die. Thirty days of mourning followed, only Moses was still alive.