"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Saturday, May 28, 2022

NUMBERS – From SINAI To The PROMISED LAND: Chapters 18

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

Complete Study of Numbers by pastor Chuck Smith

NUMBERS 18: “PROTECT THE WORK OF THE LORD AND GIVE TO THE WORK OF THE LORD” – by Sonny Islas, For the full message, watch it on the Facebook video or on SHINE BRIGHT Church YouTube channel!

INTRODUCTION: We are now in Numbers 18. Before we read, let me remind you of chapter 18’s backdrop and setting.

In NUMBERS 16, Korah and 250 other top Israelite leaders (from the Twelve Tribes), came against Moses and Aaron – really, they came against God because they wanted (lusted after) what wasn’t given to them and that was the priesthood. They were unhappy with their lesser roles and God’s choice of men regarding the priesthood which was Aaron and his sons.

Long story short, Korah and his ungrateful rebels, were challenged by Moses and consequently allowed to perform priestly duties, namely, the taking up of a censor to burn incense before the LORD. They accepted the challenge in pure presumption and pride and as they drew near the door/curtain/entrance of the Tabernacle (which was the Tent of Worship or God’s earthly dwelling place), which they were prohibited from doing – they met with the just fury of Yahweh – who then caused a sinkhole to swallow up Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their immediate families (wives, children, possessions, and all). Then God torched the 250 rebels, then plagued and killed 14,700 other complainers. This was to remind everyone that God and God alone sets the rules on worship and ministry work altogether.

So, Because of this drama and what happened in chapter 17, where God confirmed Aaron as High priest and his sons as priests, by causing his rod to bud, blossom and yield ripe almonds, unlike the rest of the leaders of the other 11 Tribes. This was a picture of how God brings what is dead to life – it symbolically pointed to Jesus the ultimate High Priest and His resurrection. Jesus was the Father’s chosen One and He proved it by bringing His dead corpse back to life.

So again, because of what took place in chapters 16 and 17, Israel was terrified and rightfully so! They felt as though they would never again be allowed to draw near and worship God. They felt as though it was all over.

This is why NUMBERS 17:12,13, says,
So the children of Israel spoke to Moses saying, “Surely, we die, we perish, we ALL perish! Whoever EVEN COMES NEAR the tabernacle of the LORD MUST DIE. Shall we all utterly die?

Chapter 18 is basically God’s response to their question “Shall we all surely die?” He’s going to remind them that all ministry work and worship must be done HIS WAY and through the priest (which again is a picture of how we can only worship God through Jesus, His Spirit, and His Word - the Bible). So, God gives them a green light to draw near to Him again, BUT not without yellow caution tape - if you will.

NUMBERS 18:1-7
1 Then the LORD said to Aaron: "You and your sons and your father's house with you shall bear the iniquity related to the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity associated with your priesthood. 2 "Also bring with you your brethren of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you while you and your sons are with you before the tabernacle of witness. 3 "They shall attend to your needs and all the needs of the tabernacle; but they shall not come near the articles of the sanctuary and the altar, lest they die-they and you also. 4 "They shall be joined with you and attend to the needs of the tabernacle of meeting, for all the work of the tabernacle; but an outsider shall not come near you. 5 "And you shall attend to the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar, that there may be no more wrath on the children of Israel. 6 "Behold, I Myself have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel; they are a gift to you, given by the LORD, to do the work of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 "Therefore you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything at the altar and behind the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood to you as a gift for service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death
.

As we can see here, the Levites or the Tribe of Levi was given the privilege and responsibility to protect the Tabernacle. They served as security guards, as watchmen, as overseers of all the holy things and all holy work that went on inside, outside and around the Tabernacle.

Aaron and his sons (namely the priesthood) were in charge of all that went on inside the Tabernacle and the rest of the Levites were in charge of all that went on outside of the Tabernacle.

God was super serious about the protection of the Tabernacle, so much so that He stationed the Levites all around the holy tent according to NUMBERS 1.

NUMBERS 1:53 says,
’but the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the Testimony, that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the children of Israel; and the Levites shall keep charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony.”

God split the Levites (or the sons of Levi) up into four groups and stationed them around the Tabernacle:
1. Moses and the priests were stationed on the Eastside of the Holy Tent (Where the main entrance was located).
2. The sons of Kohath were stationed on the Southside of the Holy Tent (Moses and Aaron come from the line of Kohath their grandfather).
3. The sons of Gershon were stationed on the Westside of the Holy Tent.
4. The sons of Merari were stationed on the Northside of the Holy Tent.
Verses 1-7 tells us that Aaron and his sons were specifically commanded to protect what goes on in the Sanctuary and what goes on with the priesthood. They were in charge of the holy place and the holy work. No one else besides the priests were allowed to touch, use, or come near the holy things in the Tabernacle or the altar where animal sacrifices and other offerings were offered up.

If they allowed anyone else, even the Levites from the sons of Kohath, Gershon and Merari – to handle the holy things and did the priestly duties, both priest and the intruders would be killed. Like we saw with Korah and his men in NUMBERS 16. This is what God meant by saying “You [that is Aaron and his sons] will bear the iniquity [sin].” In other words God is going to hold them accountable for how worship in the Tabernacle is done or not.

This serves as a reminder that serving the LORD is a great blessing but that it’s also a great responsibility that’s connected to accountability. God holds those that He’s entrusted with ministry work accountable.

Just as the LORD took His Old Testament Tabernacle seriously, He takes His New Testament Church, made up many local churches seriously as well. And I’m convinced that Pastors/Elders are the ones who are most responsible for what goes on in the local church – namely how the LORD is being worshiped/served through Bible teaching (mainly right doctrine), the selection of elders, singing/songs, the administration of the LORD’s Supper, baptism, church discipline, evangelism etc.

Here are a few examples of New Testament accountability:

Concerning the high calling of teaching the Bible mainly from the pulpit,
JAMES 3:1 says,
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
Concerning the selection of Pastors/elders,
1 TIMOTHY 5:22 says,
Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins (by agreeing with their bad choice); keep yourself pure.
Paul wrote entire books on a pastor’s qualifications; a pastors duties and what God expects from a local church – 1 & 2 TIMOTHY and TITUS (known as Pastoral letters).

Regarding the LORD’s Supper:
1 CORINTHIANS 11:27 says,
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
Concerning the Body of Christ as a whole and our own bodies which God sees as even holier than the Old Testament Tabernacle,
1 CORINTHIANS 3:16,17 says,
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
There were also very severe warnings for five out of the seven churches in REVELATION chapters 2 and 3.
Catch the two part TTUF study on REVELATION Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 at these links provided.

Look, the reality is that even though pastors carry a heavier weight of responsibility, every believer will be held accountable for how they served the LORD and be rewarded accordingly (found in 1 COR 3:12-13).

In verse 6 we find that the LORD gave the Levites to Aaron and his sons, the priests, to help out with all things Tabernacle AS A GIFT to them. Listen, those who help a local church move forward in any way, are a gift from God to the leadership of that local church.

Nothing lights up a pastor’s heart more than seeing the entire congregation rowing the boat as one - if you will. Chipping in, helping out, attending faithfully, giving, and serving, praying, and participating, witnessing, and bringing new people to church. There’s nothing like a local church that is filled with faithful servants of the LORD – I pray and hope that is S.B.C.’s aim! This is the work of the Holy Spirit in individuals' hearts.

NUMBERS 18:8-20
8 And the LORD spoke to Aaron: "Here, I Myself have also given you charge of My heave offerings, all the holy gifts of the children of Israel; I have given them as a portion to you and your sons, as an ordinance forever. 9 "This shall be yours of the most holy things reserved from the fire: every offering of theirs, every grain offering and every sin offering and every trespass offering which they render to Me, shall be most holy for you and your sons. 10 "In a most holy place you shall eat it; every male shall eat it. It shall be holy to you. 11 "This also is yours: the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel; I have given them to you, and your sons and daughters with you, as an ordinance forever. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it. 12 "All the best of the oil, all the best of the new wine and the grain, their firstfruits which they offer to the LORD, I have given them to you. 13 "Whatever first ripe fruit is in their land, which they bring to the LORD, shall be yours. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it. 14 "Every devoted thing in Israel shall be yours.

15 "Everything that first opens the womb of all flesh, which they bring to the LORD, whether man or beast, shall be yours; nevertheless the firstborn of man you shall surely redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. 16 "And those redeemed of the devoted things you shall redeem when one month old, according to your valuation, for five shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. 17 "But the firstborn of a cow, the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar, and burn their fat as an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the LORD. 18 "And their flesh shall be yours, just as the wave breast and the right thigh are yours. 19 "All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD with you and your descendants with you." 20 Then the LORD said to Aaron: "You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel
.

Aaron and the priests were basically paid with fine foods. They always enjoyed the best of the best foods. This gives more meaning to the signs that read “We’ll work for food.” They literally worked for food; which makes me think that the Levites were most likely a bit ‘fluffy’.

The priest ate of just about all the offerings that were offered except for the burnt offerings which had to be consumed by fire completely. They ate the meats, grains, oils, fruits, and wines they handled.

In verse 12 the LORD says, “…which they offer the LORD, I have given to you.”
This is a beautiful picture of how everyone who gives to the LORD, in our case, through the local church, the LORD then takes that offering and pays His servants (that is: pastors, administrators, ministry leaders in different ministry departments - depending on the size of a local church and their generosity).

Just as God used Israel to pay the priests, God uses local churches to pay ministry leaders. We find this support for ministry leaders in

1 TIMOTHY 5:17-18 which says,
Let the elders [pastors] who rule well be counted worthy of double honor [these are ruling elders], especially those who labor in the word and doctrine [teaching elders]. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.
[vs. 20] Aaron and his sons were not given land like all the other Tribes, they mingled in with them all in Canaan. Why? For the LORD was their portion! What’s better than having God as your everything! The Levites got the best part of the deal if you ask me!

NUMBERS 18:21-32
21 Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. 22 "Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. 23 "But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. 24 "For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, 'Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.'" 25 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

26 Speak thus to the Levites and say to them: 'When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the LORD, a tenth of the tithe. 27 'And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress. 28 'Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the LORD from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the LORD'S heave offering from it to Aaron the priest. 29 'Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the LORD, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.' 30 "Therefore you shall say to them: 'When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. 31 'You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting. 32 'And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die
.

From verses 21-24 All of Israel was to give their tithes, a tenth of their possessions, to pay the Levites for the work they do at the Tabernacle. Again, here we see God’s people paying God’s workers. It’s the same today in local churches.

Regarding the tithe, this was a common practice in the ancient Middle East. Giving tithes was practiced even before Moses as we see Abraham giving Melchizedek ten percent of the spoils gained in war found in GENESIS 14.

There are some Christians who are against tithing because it’s not commanded in the New Testament (but this pushback mostly comes from stingy non-church goers) but I personally, along with many other good Bible teachers believe that it’s a great giving principle. To give ten percent to the LORD through the local church every time we get paid then give extra to missions, helping others etc. is a good thing.

It’s been argued by scholars that New Testament giving is greater than the Old Testament tithe.
Q: Should we give a tithe from our Gross or our Net income?
A: Gross; give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.
Here are three verses on giving to close:

1 CORINTHIANS 9:6-7
“But this I say: He who sows
[gives] sparingly [frugally or thriftily] will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

1 CORINTHIANS 16:2 says,
“On the first day
[on Sundays] of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”

PROVERBS 3:19 says,
“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce

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