The Beauty of Progressive Teaching of the Book of Numbers

Numbers 1‑8  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
In Num. 8:1-111And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick. 3And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the Lord commanded Moses. 4And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the Lord had showed Moses, so he made the candlestick. 5And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 6Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. 7And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean. 8Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering. 9And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together: 10And thou shalt bring the Levites before the Lord: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites: 11And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord. (Numbers 8:1‑11), we have the Levites set apart to serve the Lard. We shall start with chapter 1 and see the specific truth leading up to the consecration of these men. But first notice the lamps (chap. 8:2). The lamps speak of the perfection of the work of the Holy Spirit. The candlestick of beaten gold teaches us the perfection of Christ's atoning work. We shall find the beauty of this progressive teaching of the book of Numbers.
In the first chapter we find that the Levites declare their pedigree, or their genealogy. Can you declare your genealogy? It is not sufficient to take your place at the Lord's Table because father and mother are there. It is necessary first that you have a definite experience, the new birth. Years ago an old brother said to some parents, "I trust you are exercised about your children; because you are saved by the grace of God, it does not necessarily mean they arc too." They need a definite experience. Not that it is necessary for them to state the day and hour it happened, but there must be a definite experience of dealing with God about sin. We trust that each one of our readers can declare their genealogy. I do remember that over 57 years ago I got off my knees saved by the grace of God. My old grandma read the Scriptures to me and she read Romans over and over and I discovered I was a lost soul. God saved my soul; to Him be all the praise. Do you know Christ as your Savior?
In the second chapter we have the Levites rallying unto the banner, the ensign of their father's house.
Rallying to the Banner
It is noteworthy here that each man must pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of his father's house, afar off from the tabernacle of the congregation. It is a wonderful thing to rally to the banner. I have known some Christians truly saved but ashamed to confess their Lord. If we would be happy, let us confess Christ to others. Paul says to Timothy: "My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." How can we be strong in the grace if we don't read the Scripture? The daily reading of the Word of God is the secret of a happy Christian testimony.
In our schools in Bolivia, I would ask the boys and girls, "Who has had breakfast this morning?" Up would go their hands. Then I would ask them, "Who has read the Word of God this morning?" Some little hands would go up halfway and stop. That is our food, our spiritual food. We can only be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus by reading the Word of God, by getting down on our knees before God.
Happy and Strong
Some Christians say, "Good night, Lord" and "Good morning, Lord" and that is all. Get down on your knees and talk to the Lord and ask Him to keep you from this world, its sin and its pleasures. In 1 John we read, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." I am sad when I see someone begin with a measure of faithfulness and then fall back into the current of the world. If you would be happy and strong in His grace, confess Christ. In this way we rally to the banner.
In Num. 3, we have the Levites separated to the Lord for a particular service, and their service was to keep and to serve. Three families are mentioned here, the Gershonites, the Kohathites and the Merarites. We have the whole of Peter's, John's and Paul's ministry, in type in this book. Gershon means "a stranger" and that is Peter's ministry. Merari means "bitterness" and that is John's teachings. Kohath means "an assembly" which is Paul's ministry.
We have the Levites separated to God in a special way in Num. 4. Separation is really to an object from everything that would displease the Father. It is wonderful to be separated to the person of Christ. Separation is not a very appreciated theme, but what a pleasure it is to be separated from everything that would dishonor God and to Christ. One can truly thank God that there is a place where God's Holy Spirit is free to reveal all His truth and that which would separate us from the world. Mr. Mackintosh made a statement like this, "To continue in this is not presumption but faithfulness to God.”
A Lost Value
Chapter 5 is separation from evil. Thus we have leprosy mentioned here. May God help us to hate sin, to remember that our blessed Savior was nailed to the cross because of our sins. Sin has a peculiar quality the moment you satisfy it, it becomes a lost value set on fire of hell itself. I have often thought of certain Bolivian presidents; some waded through blood to come to power and in the act of taking the crown, the garland turned to ashes, and there was then the sorrow, defeat, and degradation. Sin must be recognized and judged, and it must be put out. Thank God for the precious blood of Christ which cleanses us from all sin. That precious blood that was shed for you not only has dealt with all the sins of the past, but with every sin. One young man said to me, "If I believed that, I would do as I liked." I replied, "Oh, but you would not like.”
A Nazarite is a separated believer and we have this in chapter 6. Then we come to the offerings of the princes, and it is very instructive. You get the particular services allotted to each of the three families. In verses 7, 8 and 9 of chapter 7, we find that a specific service was given to each one. The Gershonites and the Merarites had carts to carry the heavy things of the tabernacle.
The Sacred Things
When we come to the Kohathites, they had no carts; they carried the sacred things, things which speak of God's glory, on their shoulders. There are no carts in the carrying of God's truth, so to speak; you must carry such on your own shoulders. "Keep that which is committed to thy trust." 1 Tim. 6:2020O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: (1 Timothy 6:20).
But now in the 8th chapter we see that before those Levites could be separated unto God's service, they had to come into the light of the sanctuary. They had to come into the light of God's own presence. For thirty years in Bolivia, all the light we had in our home was a candle. Then one day I triumphantly arrived with a Coleman lamp. There are just dirt floors in most of the country homes in Bolivia and every morning those floors are swept. Water was sprinkled on the floor and then swept and the result looked good by candlelight. But when I lit the Coleman lamp, I asked if the floor had been swept that day. "Indeed!" was the answer. The new light revealed those things that were not seen before.
So it is in the light of His sanctuary, the Spirit of God reveals things that are not seen before. How often the Spirit of God is grieved by things in our lives! These Levites were brought into the light of the sanctuary and everything was manifested there.
Everything Manifested
I was interested at one time in music. When the Lord came into my life, that went out. When I was a boy, I could earn my living with my violin, but when the Lord Jesus came into my heart, my violin went out as far as earning my living with it was concerned. Come into the light of the sanctuary, dear believer, and let the Lord Jesus possess all your heart.
In these chapters of Numbers the Levites declared their genealogy, rallied to the banner, and were given a specific service. Now we trust that each one of you has declared your genealogy in accepting the Lord as your Savior. Have you rallied to the banner by confessing Christ to others? Then there is a specific service for you to do for Him in a separated path, separated from evil and set apart for His glory according to His Word.
E.F. Smith