8. The Twelve Tribes – Levi

By John Thiel

The one hundred and forty four thousand are to be without sin and without fault.  However, not because they started out like that way.  We often read that the last church is undefiled and pure.  They were purified from very corrupting beginnings.

Malachi 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he [is] like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: 3 And he shall sit [as] a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

In the process of purification the tribe of Levi is mentioned.  Not just the tribe of Levi but all who are living in the last days are to be priests of God as the church of God in the last days is a royal priest hood.

1 Peter 2:8 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Levi and the other tribes create a part of the whole.  The tribe of Levi went through a purification process.

Genesis 29:34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.

Simeon and Levi

The name Levi means ‘joined’.  Levi and Simeon were most cruel of those children.

Genesis 34:25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field, 29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.

It was a real genocide experience.  Cruelty was manifested.

Of the sons of Jacob, Levi was one of the most cruel and vindictive, one of the two most guilty in the treacherous murder of the Shechemites. Levi’s characteristics, reflected in his descendants, incurred for them the decree from God, I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. Genesis 49:7. But repentance wrought reformation; and by their faithfulness to God amidst the apostasy of the other tribes, the curse was transformed into a token of highest honor.  {Ed 148.3}

Levi was the worst of the two.  He received no inheritance of the Lord and they were scattered also.

Genesis 49:5 Simeon and Levi [are] brethren; instruments of cruelty [are in] their habitations. 6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. 7 Cursed [be] their anger, for [it was] fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

A curse was placed upon these men.  The others had good things written about them but not them.  We recall how God dealt with them through Joseph.

The three days in the Egyptian prison were days of bitter sorrow as the brothers reflected upon their past sins. {PP 225.4}

God always ensures the purification of our life will take place.  These men were caused to stop and think.  Simeon was an instigator but Levi was amongst this and he too recognised his poverty.  They reflected upon their experience.  The Lord brings upon experiences to refine.  As we reflect upon Levi, we can reflect upon our own experience.  Aaron was of the tribe of Levi.

Aaron

Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for [as for] this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which [are] in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring [them] unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which [were] in their ears, and brought [them] unto Aaron. 4 And he received [them] at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw [it], he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow [is] a feast to the LORD.

Exodus 32:21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? 22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they [are set] on mischief. 23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for [as for] this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break [it] off. So they gave [it] me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. 25 And when Moses saw that the people [were] naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto [their] shame among their enemies:)

Aaron said there came out this calf from the fire.  Put yourself into the shoes of Aaron.  In his weak state, he did what the people said.  Here is a real faulty character.  His fault was also in how he brought up his children.  The consequence of his weakness was brought out in him when God put him to the test.  He faced real difficulty in the following situation.

Leviticus 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.  2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This [is it] that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. 4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. 5 So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said. 6 And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled. 7 And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD [is] upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.

Observe what a strong character he became.

Aaron was silent. The death of his sons, cut down without warning, in so terrible a sin–a sin which he now saw to be the result of his own neglect of duty–wrung the father’s heart with anguish, but he gave his feelings no expression. By no manifestation of grief must he seem to sympathize with sin. The congregation must not be led to murmur against God.  {PP 361.1}

He was not to shed a tear.  There was a divine rebuke on false sympathy.  It deadens moral perceptions. Aaron would not show any sympathy for the death of his sons.

Aaron bore his severe affliction with patience and humble submission. Sorrow and keen agony wrung his soul. He was convicted of his neglect of duty. He was priest of the most high God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. He was priest of his household, yet he had been inclined to pass over the folly of his children. He had neglected his duty to train and educate them to obedience, self-denial, and reverence for parental authority. Through feelings of misplaced indulgence, he failed to mold their characters with high reverence for eternal things. Aaron did not see, any more than many Christian parents now see, that his misplaced love and the indulgence of his children in wrong was preparing them for the certain displeasure of God and for His wrath to break forth upon them to their destruction. While Aaron neglected to exercise his authority, the justice of God awakened against them. Aaron had to learn that his gentle remonstrance, without a firm exercise of parental restraint, and his imprudent tenderness toward his sons were cruelty in the extreme. God took the work of justice into His own hands and destroyed the sons of Aaron.   {3T 295.3}

Aaron’s sons disregarded parental authority so God destroyed them. We can see when we come to our experience we will see things as Aaron saw them.  If Aaron wept, he would have died.  Aaron became strong.  If we acknowledge sins in others and palliate them and give false sympathy for those who are in sin, God is not pleased.

Moses

Exodus 2:1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.

Exodus 2:7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

What do we learn how a mother needs to be?

God had heard the mother’s prayers; her faith had been rewarded.  From his humble cabin home he was taken to the royal palace, to the daughter of Pharaoh, and he became her son. Yet even here he did not lose the impressions received in childhood. The lessons learned at his mother’s side could not be forgotten. They were a shield from the pride, the infidelity, and the vice that flourished amid the splendor of the court.  How far-reaching in its results was the influence of that one Hebrew woman, and she an exile and a slave! The whole future life of Moses, the great mission which he fulfilled as the leader of Israel, testifies to the importance of the work of the Christian mother. There is no other work that can equal this. To a very great extent the mother holds in her own hands the destiny of her children. She is dealing with developing minds and characters, working not alone for time, but for eternity. She is sowing seed that will spring up and bear fruit, either for good or for evil. She has not to paint a form of beauty upon canvas or to chisel it from marble, but to impress upon a human soul the image of the divine. Especially during their early years the responsibility rests upon her of forming the character of her children. The impressions now made upon their developing minds will remain with them all through life. Parents should direct the instruction and training of their children while very young, to the end that they may be Christians. They are placed in our care to be trained, not as heirs to the throne of an earthly empire, but as kings unto God, to reign through unending ages.  {PP 244.2}

We see a Levite that did her work well.  We see the situations that need to be exercised.  Look at the whole tribe now.  Notice how the Levites came back to wonderful integrity.

Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

They were into corruption worshipping the golden calf.  However when God instructed that those who were un-repentant should be destroyed, who was called upon to carry out the work of destroying them?  Previously the Levites and Simeon had killed the Shechemites.  Was that a requirement?  No.  But this was a requirement.  If the Lord says do it, it’s correct.  Only the people who were destroyed were from the mixed multitude.  Three thousand in total.  The rebellious were slain.

Those who had not joined in the apostasy were to take their position at the right of Moses; those who were guilty but repentant, at the left. The command was obeyed. It was found that the tribe of Levi had taken no part in the idolatrous worship. From among other tribes there were great numbers who, although they had sinned, now signified their repentance. But a large company, mostly of the mixed multitude that instigated the making of the calf, stubbornly persisted in their rebellion. In the name of the Lord God of Israel, Moses now commanded those upon his right hand, who had kept themselves clear of idolatry, to gird on their swords and slay all who persisted in rebellion. And there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. Without regard to position, kindred, or friendship, the ringleaders in wickedness were cut off; but all who repented and humbled themselves were spared.  {PP 324.1}

The guilty repented and stood to the left.  The tribe of Levi knew exactly who to kill without regard to position.  All who repented were spared.  The tribe of Levi became exonerated.

Here Moses defines genuine consecration as obedience to God, to stand in vindication of the right and to show a readiness to carry out the purpose of God in the most unpleasant duties, showing that the claims of God are higher than the claims of friends or the lives of the nearest relatives. The sons of Levi consecrated themselves to God to execute His justice against crime and sin.  {3T 301.2}

Do not indulge in false sympathy.  This is the Lords call.  Notice how they did something simular as before but their curse was altered in to a blessing.  How does God work to turn a curse into a blessing?

Numbers 3:45 Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD.

Now the Levites were to become like the first born.  The first born was always priest of the family.

Numbers 18:20 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. 21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. 22 Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. 24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.

They were to have no inheritance as they were to receive the tithe.  We are seeing someone with a worse character being loyal to God.  God can really honour those who are sometimes the worst.

Deuteronomy 10:8 At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day. 9 Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.

If they didn’t inherit land, it didn’t matter as they would be looked after.  They were scattered throughout Israel.

2 Chronicles 11:13 And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.

They were teachers and ministers throughout all Israel.

Leviticus 10:11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.

But repentance wrought reformation; and by their faithfulness to God amidst the apostasy of the other tribes, the curse was transformed into a token of highest honor.  {Ed 148.3}

We observe from this study that a curse from the consequence of sin can be a blessing.

God does not annul His laws. He does not work contrary to them. The work of sin He does not undo. But He transforms. Through His grace the curse works out blessing.  {Ed 148.2}

Note again the meaning of Levi’s name.  Who did Levi join together?  Some of those from the ten tribes that had separated.

2 Chronicles 11:14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD:  16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.  17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.

The people who were faithful followed them out.  They joined together.  Judah became strong.  To be among this tribe, what would the overcomers be instrumental in doing?

2 Chronicles 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

They will reconcile and bind together.

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:32. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Refiner

Jesus’ work is to stand as a refiner.

Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

He brings about trials and difficulties.  The repentant ones come to the fore to make up the one hundred and forty four thousand.

We should have a spirit of progress. We must guard continually against being fixed in our views, feelings, and actions. The work of God is onward. Reforms must be carried on, and we must take hold and help move on the car of reform. Energy, tempered with patience and ambition, and balanced by wisdom, is now needed by every Christian. The work of saving souls is yet left to us, the disciples of Christ. Not one of us is excused. Many have become dwarfed and stunted in their Christian life because of inaction. We should employ our time diligently while in this world. How earnestly should we improve every opportunity of doing good, of bringing others to a knowledge of the truth! Our motto should ever be, Onward, higher, surely, steadily onward to duty and to victory.  {3T 540.2}

Amen.

Posted on September 5, 2009, in The Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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