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This chapter contains some interesting particulars relating to the priesthood, and the service of the Levites: together with the appointed portion for both.
Do I not see here in the appointment of the high priest, bearing the iniquity both of the sanctuary and priesthood, a strong type of the LORD JESUS, in his priestly office, bearing the iniquity both of his people and their most holy things? see Isaiah 53:6 .
Let not the Reader overlook here the very striking distinction made between the high priest and the Levites. Though the Levites were to be joined in one and the same service, yet it was the high priest only who was to come in before the tabernacle of witness. It is JESUS our great high priest who alone goeth in before the mercy-seat: though his people are joined with him in the offerings of prayer and praise, yet all can only be accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6 .
The tabernacle of witness was before the most holy place, in which was the ark. And as this represented the presence of JEHOVAH, no Levite, much less a stranger could venture to approach. What a delightful representation is all this of the infinite importance of the mediation and intercession of JESUS? John 14:6 .
It is well worthy of observation, that the office of the high priest, is called a service. Reader, do not forget, that JESUS is called JEHOVAH's servant, and he most affectionately recommends himself to his disciples under this character. See Isaiah 42:1 ; Philippians 2:6-7 ; Luke 22:27 .
I have thrown all these verses together, because one general remark will be found applicable to all. And the observation that seems to meet us, in the perusal of what is here said concerning the provision made by GOD for the priests and Levites in his service, will, by a parity of reasoning, be found applicable in all ages of the church to the LORD'S servants. As they are not their own, but his whom they serve, so they are supposed to have neither time nor ability to provide for themselves in the common wants of life, and therefore the LORD himself appoints what their supplies should be. All their ministrations, their knowledge, time, gifts, graces, talents, were to be dedicated for the benefit of the people: yea, their very souls, (as the apostle Paul says,) faithful servants in the ministry are willing to impart for JESUS'S sake, and the gospel's. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 . Hence, therefore, the LORD himself undertakes by this appointment to provide for them. "Thou shalt have none inheritance among thy brethren, I am thy part and thine inheritance, saith the LORD." See 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 . Reader! detach this idea from the mere temporal provision of things, and apply it to the gospel ministry, as it concerns spirituals; and what an animated thought is it to every faithful servant of JESUS! Were I speaking to one of this description I would say, Remember the LORD is your portion. Your springs are all in JESUS. Your life is hid with CHRIST in GOD. Like your master you have meat to eat, which the world knoweth not of. What if all streams fail, if JESUS be your fountain! Oh! the ravishing thought when JEHOVAH saith to the soul, Fear not I am thy shield, and thine exceeding great reward! Genesis 15:1 .
It is sweet to observe, that the Levites were expected to give as well as receive. The LORD hereby manifested his right and property in all things. But is there not a spiritual illustration in this heave-offering of the ministry? The apostle Paul hath made one general observation to this amount, in relation to our great High Priest, when he tells us, that the Levitical priesthood payed tithes to the unchangeable everlasting priesthood of JESUS, Hebrews 7:9-10 . A precious instruction this, to teach us that all things bend and give way to Him, who is not made a priest after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. Hebrews 7:16 .
Oh! thou Almighty Aaron of our Gospel profession, thou dearest JESUS! who hast indeed, in thine own precious body on the tree, borne the burden of the sins, and of the most holy things, of thy people! In what I read in this chapter of Aaron and his sons, I behold thine unequalled person represented. It is thou, and thou alone, who hast sustained the dreadful pressure of sin and transgression. It is thou alone to whom the LORD JEHOVAH could say, Thou shalt bear the iniquity of the sanctuary, and the iniquity of the priesthood: for when neither the blood of bulls nor of goats could take away sin; then did the Saviour cry, Lo! I come. Oh! do thou still bear for me, and all thy ministering servants, both our sins and sorrows: do thou bear, LORD, the care of all thy churches; do thou bear our names upon thine arm, and upon thine heart, when going in before the mercy-seat; and when thou hast borne all thy people safely through every temptation, do thou bear them home to thy throne of glory, that where thou art there they may be also. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29