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As the preceding Chapter related to the numbering Israel in tribes, and families; so the present hath reference, to the ordering the Levites, as the more immediate servants in the LORD'S ministry. The close of the Chapter, contains the order for the redemption of the firstborn.
I think it worth observation in the opening of this chapter, that Aaron is mentioned before Moses. Probably on this account: as in this chapter of the order of the Levites, an eye to the priesthood is particularly attended to; Aaron, as a type of the ever-blessed JESUS in the order of the priesthood, supersedes the authority of the law, in the person of Moses. Hebrews 7:15-16; Hebrews 7:15-16 .
Let the Reader not lose sight of the intention, which probably the HOLY GHOST had in view, in causing the sin of Aaron's two eldest sons to be again mentioned. The church of GOD is a sacred inclosure out of the world's wilderness. Let no man rush into it with strange tire, and sparks of his own kindling. Remember Nadab and Abihu! Leviticus 10:2 . My soul! though thou seekest the acceptance, both of thy person and thy offering, only in the blood and righteousness of JESUS, take heed how thou venturest into the divine presence, in a careless, unconcerned and indifferent frame of mind! See Leviticus 10:3 .
It is well worth the pious Reader's observation, that notwithstanding the great attention here shown to the tribe of Levi, the LORD JESUS descended not from that tribe. Hebrews 7:13-14 .
Let the Reader remark with me, on the perusal of those verses, that the highest honour of birthright is to be the LORD'S. The world's policy hath in many instances reversed this. The younger branches of some families are thought good enough for the LORD'S service. But what a blessed privilege are those begotten to, who are, as the apostle calls them, a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9 . Holy and Eternal SPIRIT! do thou anoint me, by thy qualifying influences, to this sacred office! Consecrate and set me apart, by the sprinkling of the blood of JESUS, to this service of my GOD and FATHER; that I may at all times draw near in that precious and appointed way, which he hath opened for all his people, in his alone merits and death; and offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to GOD by JESUS CHRIST. 1 Peter 2:5 .
It is worthy the Reader's closest attention here, that while Israel at large, were only numbered from the age of 20, and upward; the children of the Levites were commanded to be numbered from a month old. Yes! our dearest Redeemer hath told us, that in his record little infants as well as elder years are enumerated; for of such is the kingdom of GOD. Mark 10:14 . And what a sweet scripture that is, which from the lips of the same precious Saviour, enjoins the greatest caution of despising one of his little ones, for in heaven their angels do always behold the face of their FATHER which is in heaven. Matthew 18:10 .
I do not detain the Reader, through this whole account of the numbering of the Levites, with any observation, in order to avoid the unnecessarily swelling the extent of our Commentary. But I cannot suffer the relation of the sum total to be closed, without calling upon the Reader to remark with me, that from this calculation, it appears the tribe of Levi was the smallest of ail the tribes of Israel. And yet this was peculiarly the LORD'S. And are they, indeed, what JESUS called them, a little flock? Luke 12:32 . LORD! grant, however few, that I may be found among the number, whom JESUS will own for his own, when he cometh to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. 2 Thessalonians 1:10 .
Is not this direction concerning the firstborn, in allusion to the only begotten SON of GOD? Did not GOD our FATHER give and exchange, as it were, his firstborn and only SON, for the people of his everlasting love, when he gave him up to the service of the whole law, as their law-surety and sponsor; and to the death of the cross, in their law-room and stead? John 3:16 .
The sum here appointed, amounted in value to about 2 shillings and 3 pence halfpenny of our current coin.
The apostle Peter, hath given the best comment upon this, and other scriptures of the like nature, when he draws a line of everlasting distinction between redemption by money, and redemption by the precious blood of CHRIST. See 1 Peter 1:18-19 .
HERE again, blessed JESUS! while reading the separation of the Levites to the service of the sanctuary, here let me behold thee in thine unequalled office; consecrated, and set apart to thy FATHER'S service, in the salvation of souls! With what earnestness didst thou enter upon the work; with what diligence and faithfulness perform it; with how much tenderness to us, didst thou take upon thee the form of a servant, when thou wast LORD of all, and with whom it was no robbery to be equal with GOD: and with how much obedience to thy FATHER didst thou magnify the whole law, and make it honourable; never desisting from thy labour of love, until thou couldst say unto GOD the FATHER; I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do. Hail again and again, thou ever adored Redeemer! LORD, number me among the sons of Levi, and purge my soul as gold and silver, that I may offer to the LORD, an offering in righteousness. And while I behold my GOD and Saviour, though LORD of all, thus set apart, and becoming the servant of all; may my soul be so devoted to thy service, that with one of old, I may cry out as he did: Truly, I am thy servant, I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid; thou hast loosed my bonds. Psalms 116:16 .
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19