Dedication of the Levites

Elizabeth Elliot tells in her book “Passion and Purity,” how on her first date with Jim Elliot (one of the five martyred missionaries in Ecuador), they went to a missionary meeting at Moody Church in Chicago, late in April. The speaker was one of the daughters of the fa … More


In this chapter we are examining the events that occurred in the camp of Israel at Mount Sinai on the day the tabernacle was erected. Everything that was done in the camp of Israel was ordered by the Lord. In the church today, God doesn’t speak audibly to His people as He did to Moses, but as they worship together, pray and study His Word, He reveals His will. God spoke to Moses about two important things: caring for the lamps (vv. 1-4), and dedicating the Levites (vv. 5-16).

It was the duty of Aaron and his sons to trim the wicks, replenish the oil each day and make sure the light was shining (Lev. 24:1-3). Without the light, the priests couldn’t see to minister in the holy place. Without Jesus (“the light of the world” - I John 8:12) we can not see and understand spiritual truth. Unless the people obeyed God and worshiped Him as He commanded, Israel’s light of witness would become dim and eventually go out.

If Aaron and his sons were the “official ministers” in the camp, serving at the altar and in the tabernacle, then the Levites were the dedicated laymen who assisted the priests in their ministry. Since they were serving God at the tabernacle, the Levites had to be set apart for the Lord. First they were cleansed by water (vv. 5-7), but unlike the priests, they were merely sprinkled (Ex. 29:4).

God says that when He killed the oldest sons of the Egyptians He decided that the first-born sons in each Israelite family would be His, as well as every first-born male from their flocks and herds. But now He has dedicated these Levites as substitutes for the first-born sons (vv. 17-18).


We serve the Lord by serving His people, but our orders must come from the Lord (II Cor. 4:5). No matter what task the Lord gives me to do, I must do it cheerfully and carefully.

Numbers 8:1-18 (English Standard Version)

Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to Aaron and say to him, When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand." And Aaron did so: he set up its lamps in front of the lampstand, as the LORD commanded Moses. And this was the workmanship of the lampstand, hammered work of gold. From its base to its flowers, it was hammered work; according to the pattern that the LORD had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them. Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of purification upon them, and let them go with a razor over all their body, and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves. Then let them take a bull from the herd and its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, and you shall take another bull from the herd for a sin offering. And you shall bring the Levites before the tent of meeting and assemble the whole congregation of the people of Israel. When you bring the Levites before the LORD, the people of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites, and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that they may do the service of the LORD. Then the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, and you shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the LORD to make atonement for the Levites. And you shall set the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and shall offer them as a wave offering to the LORD. "Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine. And after that the Levites shall go in to serve at the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and offered them as a wave offering. For they are wholly given to me from among the people of Israel. Instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself. For all the firstborn among the people of Israel are mine, both of man and of beast. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated them for myself, and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel."

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