Today you should read: Numbers 8
We hold that God’s Word is the inspired, inerrant revelation. Chapter and verse numbers are nice for reference, but they are not inspired. Case in point, Numbers 7:89 should probably be 8:1; Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him. This verse answers much of the who, what, when, where of the actual 8:1; Then the Lord spoke to Moses…
Numbers 8 opens up with what appears to be a parallel passage to Exodus 25:31–40, which describes the construction of the lampstand in much greater detail. Past that, the majority of Numbers 8 is dedicated to the purification ritual for the Levites. We recently read in Numbers 3 about the Levites calling, with some repetition here, Numbers 8 addresses their purification for service.
As one might expect in this time, the Levites had to make sacrifices and sin offerings. However, there is a curious command in verse 7 that I’d like to focus on specifically. Verse 7 says, “Thus you shall do to them, for their cleansing: sprinkle purifying water on them, and let them use a razor over their whole body and wash their clothes, and they will be clean.” This verse is strangely similar to another command written previously in the book of Leviticus,
“The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean. Now afterward, he may enter the camp, but he shall stay outside his tent for seven days. It will be on the seventh day that he shall shave off all his hair: he shall shave his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair. He shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water and be clean.” (Lev. 14:8–9)
What makes the command so curious for the Levite is that it parallels the purification command for a leper. The question becomes, why does a Levite need to go through such an extreme cleansing ritual if they are not actually recovering from uncleanness like leprosy? Is it just symbolic, or is this actual practical value in this kind of cleaning that makes them more qualified to serve?
The answer is probably “a little of both.” It seems to me that the Lord is doing something with this action. The full-body shave was reserved for these two instances. So, if you see two hairless men walking around the camp, they’re either a Levite or a cleansed leper. Either way, they’re shiny heads and eyebrow-less, beard-less faces would stand out—and therein lies the point.
Purity looks different. Holiness literally means “set apart.” The Levites particular service required purity standards not required by the rest of the people. They didn’t only need to be clean, they needed to be “ritually clean” to serve. That’s a different thing.
Our purity and service to the Lord doesn’t require a purity ritual like the full-bod-shave. That’s good news for some of the more fuzzy servants of the Lord. But, like a leper, sin stains our lives making us unclean. It is Christ who purifies. He sets us free to walk in purity.
Like the hairless Levites, Christians should look different than our community. Purity always stands out. In fact, if our lives look like the average non-Christian, it should raise questions.
How are you living different today?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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