Ever been jealous of another person’s position when you should have been satisfied with your own appointment?
If yes, then this week’s parasha will resonate with you, for the Levites too should have been happy with their service, but instead they were planning rebellion.
The Levites protected the people of Israel from God’s wrath.
The Levites protected the people of Israel from God’s wrath. They acted as guards on duty to prevent anyone from accidentally entering the tabernacle and dying as a result of their sin. God’s moral purity cannot tolerate sin and demands his perfect judgement. No wonder man cannot walk into the presence of the living God! If not for the mediating work of the Levites God would never have walked with Israel. Just like the cherubim with fiery swords barring entrance to Gan-Eden, it was to Israel’s advantage that they be kept away from the Mishkan, the dwelling place of God on earth. The Levites kept guard… “so that the people of Israel do not come near the tent of meeting, lest they bear sin and die”. (Bamidbar/Numbers 18:22)
Moshe had lead the people from slavery into the wilderness to meet God and just as Moshe presented God to man, so Aaron presented man to God, and necessarily with many, many sacrifices to cover sins. Aaron and his family bore the iniquity of the people:
So the LORD said to Aaron, “You and your sons and your father’s house with you shall bear iniquity connected with the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear iniquity connected with your priesthood. (Bamidbar/Numbers 18:1)
Just before the episode concerning Korach the Lord said to Moshe, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner.” (Bamidbar/Numbers 15:38) The bluish purple of the tzitzit which also featured on the Mishkan and the priests’ garments told everyone they belonged to a royal family of priests. Yet it would be a mistake to think Aaron wasn’t special anymore.
True, Aaron had failed at Sinai with the golden calf and the fiasco with the 12 spies had precipitated a 40 year delay in getting into the Promised Land. Rebellion was on the cards. But that rebellion failed with dramatic judgment upon Korach and his companions as they went down into the deep, the ground opening up beneath them, demonstrating their gross mistake. Meanwhile the budding of Aaron’s staff with ripe almonds clarified his secure status. Korach tragically failed to grasp that Aaron and Aaron alone could be the High Priest. But it wasn’t Aaron they rebelled against, it was God. They despised God and that could only mean one thing, judgement. They had felt entitled to more and mistakenly thought Moses and Aaron were exalting themselves above the congregation, but they were wrong. Aaron was God’s High Priest and no one could take his place.
…what Aaron did in part the Messiah would do in full…
Unbelievably after the judgement upon Korach and their allies, our ancestors rebelled yet again against Moses and Aaron, and God then sent a great plague and only the mediation of Aaron saved the rest of Israel from certain death, but not before almost 15,000 people died. Aaron stood between the people and the Mishkan to stop the plague before God killed all of Israel. As God’s priest he mediated well. Never was Messiah foreshadowed more than in the High Priest; what Aaron did in part the Messiah would do in full:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 53:6)
That servant would be God’s exalted servant:
Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. (Yeshayahu / Isaiah 52:13)
Jewish believers in Yeshua cannot but read Isaiah and fail to see how wonderfully transparent it is that he is Messiah. Isaiah chapters 40-55 present two very different servants, oscillating from one to the other until they became distinct: one blind (42:19), the other who gives sight to the blind (42:6-7), one deaf, (42:18), the other hears as one taught (50:4-5), one far from righteousness (46:12) the other righteous and bearing the sins of Israel:
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 53:11)
But it is not until the final chapter of Isaiah, chapter 66, that we see God’s remarkable pronouncement:
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations. (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 66:2-3)
God speaks of a sacrificial system made redundant. An offering at the altar equivalent to murdering a man or breaking a dog’s neck or say a bucket of pigs blood. Need we say anymore? But why is there no need for sacrifices? Because the problem of sin has been resolved. The death of Messiah is the ultimate and final atonement for sins, past, present and future. Isaiah foretold those who listen to God will be his people. It is Jewish people who listen to Jesus who will be his.
Now, if you’re thinking no man can die for another man’s sins you’d be right, but you’d be wrong to dismiss Yeshua. Why? Because God’s exalted servant voluntarily and successfully lays down his life for the sins of others:
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 53:12)
It means he cannot be just a man, and indeed Yeshua is not. He is the eternal Son of God and our eternal High Priest.
In the days of Korach God intervened and every man in the rebellion was killed, but in the days of Yeshua, God allowed his enemies to kill his High Priest:
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 53:3-4)
Interested in finding about more about the greatest High Priest? Give us a call – we’d love to introduce you to Him!