Bible Readings for April 4th
Being a Levite carried with it a few unique provisions—and sometimes even drawbacks. For example, the Levites were not counted in the census to be eligible for military service with the rest of Israel (Num. 1:47–54), and additionally, only the tribe of Levi went without receiving an inheritance in the Promised Land (Josh. 13:33).
The reason for the peculiar treatment of Levi was simple: God had given them greater privileges than military service or property ownership because he had given them himself. Joshua 13:33 puts it this way: “But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance, just as he said to them.”
In Leviticus 6–7, then, we read about part of the special privileges the tribe of Levi received for their service to Yahweh in the tabernacle. Specifically, they were given food to eat from the sacrifices that worshipers brought to the temple. To be sure, no one from any tribe was permitted to eat blood or fat (Lev. 7:22–27), but one of the main ways that God provided for the physical needs of his Levites was to feed them from the sacrifices brought by the rest of Israel.
In fact, the idea of feasting with God is a major theme throughout salvation history. In the beginning, Adam and Eve were free to eat from any of the trees of the Garden of Eden (only one tree excepted), and after the fall, one of the greatest privileges we have seen human beings enjoy up to this point was when Moses took seventy of his elders halfway up Mount Sinai to eat and drink with God (Ex. 24:9–11).
These provisions to feed the Levites from Yahweh’s own altar were remarkably gracious—so gracious that not even the rest of Israel could partake. The inheritance of the Levites was not land but the opportunity to taste of heavenly things that were set apart as holy.
It is remarkable, then, to read this warning from the letter to the Hebrews given to Jews who were considering apostatizing back to Judaism: “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat” (Heb. 13:9–10).
What the Levites enjoyed was good, but we have something better. Their eating and drinking with God was merely a shadow of our feast at the table of our Lord. We who have been bought with the broken body and shed blood of Jesus enjoy a feast that even the Levites had no right to eat.
Do you marvel at your privileges in Christ as you celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.