God held Aaron and his sons responsible for the tabernacle ministry

Philip Melancthon, the great Reformation theologian, once said to his friend Martin Luther, “This day you and I will discuss the governance of the universe.” What Luther said in response was unexpected: “This day you and I will go fishing and leave the governance o … More


Throughout this book, God’s people have been stubborn and rebellious, and the Lord has chastened them for it. But in spite of their disobedience, the Lord has been faithful to care for them. Because of His judgment of the rebels at the tabernacle (16:31-35), and His miraculous defense of Aaron’s high priestly ministry (17:10-13), the people were afraid to even have the tabernacle in their camp. Yet Israel was the only nation to have the glory of the living God present with them and going before them (Rom. 9:4).

In today’s reading, God speaks expressly to Aaron (vv. 1,8) which elevates his high priestly ministry even more. The Lord makes it clear that it is the responsibility of the priests to minister in the tabernacle and protect it from being defiled. It is also the responsibility of the Levites to assist the priests in their tabernacle ministry. As long as the priests and Levites obeyed this rule there would be no judgment of the people (v. 5). The priestly ministry was a very serious matter and God held Aaron and his sons responsible for offenses committed against the sanctuary and the priesthood. The priesthood was God’s gift to Israel, for without priests the people could not approach God. The first-born of all animals belonged to God, but they could be redeemed with a price and used for ordinary purposes.

The Lord tells the priests that everything in Israel that has been completely dedicated to me will now belong to you (v. 14). From now on, the sacred offerings that the Israelites give to me will belong to you, your sons, and your daughters. Everything rises and falls on leadership, and Aaron was the leader of the priestly family. He was accountable to God for what happened in the sanctuary (v. 7). Today, God doesn’t dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48), but He does dwell in our bodies by His Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19-20). Therefore we must be very careful how we treat our bodies.


Lord, help me to sense my responsibility each day in serving those you have entrusted to me.

Numbers 18:1-19 (English Standard Version)

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