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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 3

Verses 1-51

  1. INTRO:
    1. My friend Steve:
    2. Chapters 1-4 God deals with the outward conditions of the camp(set up; layout). Chapters 5-10 God deals with the inward conditions.
  2. PLAYING WITH FIRE!
    1. ​​​​​​​STRANGE FIRE! (1-4)
    2. Censer(firepan) - (Show Picture) The priest filled the censer with live coals from the sacred fire on the altar of burnt-offering, and having carried it into the sanctuary, there threw upon the burning coals the sweet incense, which sent up a cloud of smoke, filling the apartment with fragrance.
    3. Incense - a fragrant composition prepared by the "art of the apothecary." It consisted of 4 ingredients "beaten small”. That which was not thus prepared was called "strange incense" (Ex 30:9). It was offered along with every meat-offering; and besides was daily offered on the golden altar in the holy place, and on the great day of atonement was burnt by the high priest in the holy of holies.
    4. (4) Profane Fire(strange fire; wrong kind of fire; unauthorized fire) - See Lev.10
    5. In ch. 8,9 the priest had just been made holy.
      1. Fire just fell from heaven in a positive way (read 9:22-24).
      2. Fire’s about to fall in a bad way!
      3. William’s said, Man always & immediately fails when placed in any position of responsibility & glory. Adam, Noah, Moses, Solomon, the Apostles, the Hebrew & Christian churches are all sad proofs of this fact.
    6. Great blessings (last chapter) often lead to great temptations! (this chapter)
      1. Jesus – after His baptism(voice from heaven) right into temptations of wilderness.
      2. Elijah – ran after great victory on Carmel.
    7. It sure didn’t take long for sin to enter the priesthood!
    8. Chapter 10 shows us what happens when Gods laws are taken lightly.
      1. God has never taken worship lightly…& neither should we!
    9. Here Nadab & Abihu did what the lord had not commanded!
      1. Ex.19:22 “Also let the priests who come near the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them."
    10. Everything they did was wrong!
      1. ​​​​​​​The wrong People – High Priest only. See - Ex.30:7-10
      2. The wrong Instruments – They used their censors & not the High Priests.
        1. See - Ex.40:9
      3. The wrong Time – Only annually on the Day of Atonement (16:1).
        1. They appear to have offered it at a time not prescribed – “which he had not commanded them”.
      4. The wrong Authority – They didn’t consult w/Moses or their Dad – They didn’t follow the word of God.
      5. The wrong Fire – They were commanded to use coals from the brazen altar. (See 16:12) Their incense was not lighted from the altar – “profane fire”.
        1. NIV unauthorized fire - They were thus saying, God our fire is as good as yours!
        2. Interesting - They were “devoured” by the fire; but their priestly tunics were not burnt (like the tabernacle was not burnt) (2,5).
        3. God answers false fire with real fire!…& He’s a crack shot every time!
        4. Q: I wonder if we are guilty of worship of our own making? {Ie. Coming up with our own flame!}
        5. Pass on the warmth of worship! It can’t be manufactured! It should be passed on.
      6. The wrong Place – before the Lord(2). Seems to imply they pressed (w/in the veil) into the Holy of Holies. (See 16:1,2)
      7. The wrong Motive – They didn’t seek to glorify God alone (3).
        1. Must have been pride in them. Their desire wasn’t to sanctify & glorify the Lord, but to promote themselves & be important.
      8. The wrong Energy –They seemed to be under the influence of alcohol.
        1. (see 8,9) This is the only place where God spoke directly to Aaron.
        2. Did their sin have something to do with strong drink?
        3. Were they under the influence of alcohol when they committed their acts of sacrilege?
          1. There is no acceptable substitute in ministry for the power of the H.S.
    11. Those who have access to God have responsibility as well as privilege.
      1. Vs. 3 is our central theme stating the 2 things God requires from those who approach Him (Honor & Glory)
      2. Our worship must be based on His word & must glorify Him.
      3. Our worship must be acceptable to Him & show forth His Praises.
    12. If every child of God were killed who substituted fleshly energy for the power of the Spirit, not many would be left!
      1. Q: So why does He sometimes respond w/fire & other times with forgiveness?
      2. It seems at the beginning of new periods in redemptive history, God judged sin in a dramatic way so that people would learn to fear.
        1. Examples: Joshua 7 (sin of Achon) {new promise land era}; Acts 5 (Ananias & Sapphira) {new church era}
    13. DUTIES! (5-39)
    14. (10) Aaron & his sons were given the duties of the priesthood, the rest of the tribe formed the more monotonous, really repetitive, dull duties of ministry & transport.
    15. Gershonites (21-26) - eldest son, pitched westward. Cared for hangings & curtains.
    16. Kohathites (21-26) - related to Aaron, pitched southward. Cared for sacred vessels.
    17. Merarites (21-26) - pitched northward. Cared for the boards & sockets.
    18. It was enough to know that his place & charge were God-appointed.
      1. Even to carry a peg became honorable, when God had alloted that to a man as his share (37).
      2. Each person is vital to the work of the Lord, no matter what task God assigns.
      3. No task is trivial. Some Levites had heavier burdens than others, but God had given the the assignments & He would enable them.
    19. Grace entrusted the Levites with the Tabernacle & its vessels; Love apportioned to each the load suited to his strength.
      1. Can you be content with 1 peg, or the heaviest piece? Knowing that Grace honors you & Love thought of you.
      2. Better to carry a peg of the tabernacle than wield the scepter of Egypt!
    20. REDEMPTION OF FIRST BORN! (12,13; 40-51)
    21. The substitute for the firstborn.
      1. The Levites were taken, instead of the firstborn son of Israel (the original provision), to perform the service of the Tabernacle.
      2. There were nearly as many Levites as firstborn, & the difference was made good by the payment of redemption money on the part of the surplus(45-48).
    22. Jesus - the law of the firstborn...i.e. Only begotten Son. He was the Firstborn! Rom 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Numbers 3". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/numbers-3.html. 2017.