Bible Readings for May 1st
In Numbers 8, Yahweh prepares the Levites for their service by cleansing them. The first thing we see in Numbers 8 is that the Levites were actually cleansed during this process with sprinkled water of purification, the shaving of their bodies, and washed clothes (Num. 8:7). This was a spiritual process to qualify them for spiritual duties in the worship and service of Yahweh, but part of that process required a physical cleansing with water. In many ways, this cleansing foreshadows Christian baptism, where our physical washing with water corresponds with the spiritual cleansing we receive through the blood of Jesus.
Also, we find blood sacrifices here in the cleansing process for the Levites. Part of their purification required a sin offering and a burnt offering “to make atonement for the Levites” (Num. 8:12). Sin offerings were made for the purpose of removing guilt for specific sins (Lev. 4:1–5:13), and burnt offerings were consumed completely in the fire to symbolize the complete dedication of the worshiper as a “pleasing aroma to the LORD” (Lev. 1:9).
The bulls and the grain offerings were not the only sacrifices offered to Yahweh. Interestingly, the Levites themselves were offered as a wave offering. Partially, this means that the Levites belonged to Yahweh (Num. 8:14–18), dedicated to him through the wave offering.
But it also means that Yahweh has “given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel” (Num. 8:19). God gave the Levites as a gift to serve the priests, who served all Israel. Again, the primary responsibility of the Levites was to guard the tabernacle “that there may be no plague among the people of Israel when the people of Israel come near the sanctuary” (Num. 8:19).
Then, when the cleansing process was complete, the Levites began to do the work that Yahweh had prepared for them (Num. 8:22), up to the point that they must retire from service because of old age (Num. 8:23–26).
In Hebrews 10:19–25, we learn that we receive the sprinkled blood of Jesus and the washing of our bodies with the pure water of baptism for largely the same reasons that the Levites were cleansed. First, we are cleansed so that we can draw near to the Father in worship through Christ (Heb. 10:22).
But second, we are cleansed so that we, like the Levites, can engage in the ministry to which our Lord calls us: “And let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24–25).
The blood of Jesus and your baptism equip you for worship and for ministry. Don’t waste them.
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.