Numbers 8

CHAPTER VIII

Directions how the lamps are to be lighted, 1-3.

How the candlestick was formed, 4.

The Levites to be consecrated to their service by being cleansed,

sprinkled, shaved, purified, and their clothes washed, 5-7.

To offer a meat-offering and a sin-offering, 8.

The people to put their hands upon them, 9, 10.

Aaron is to offer them before the Lord, 11.

The Levites to lay their hands on the heads of the bullocks,

&c., 12.

The Levites are taken to assist Aaron and his sons in the place

of all the first-born of Israel, 13-19.

Moses and Aaron do as they were commanded, the Levites are

presented, purified, and commence their service, 20-22.

They are to begin their service at twenty-five years of age, and

leave off at fifty, 23-25.

After this they shall have the general inspection of the service, 26.

NOTES ON CHAP. VIII

Verse 2. The seven lamps shall give light] The whole seven

shall be lighted at one time, that seven may be ever burning.

Verse 4. This work of the candlestick, &c.] See many curious

particulars relative to this candlestick,

See Clarke on Ex 25:31 and "Ex 25:39".

The candlestick itself was an emblem of the Church of Christ; the

oil, of the graces and gifts of the Spirit of God; and the light,

of those gifts and graces in action among men. See Re 1:12-20.

God builds his Church and sends forth his Spirit to dwell in it,

to sanctify and cleanse it, that it may be shown unto the world as

his own workmanship. The seven lights in the candlesticks point

out the seven Spirits of God, the Holy Ghost being thus termed,

Re 3:1,

from the variety and abundance of his gifts and influences; seven

being used among the Hebrews to denote any thing full, complete,

and perfect. A candlestick or lamp without oil is of no use;

oil not burning is of no use. So a Church or society of religious

people without the influence of the Holy Ghost are dead while

they have a name to live; and if they have a measure of this

light, and do not let it shine by purity of living and holy zeal

before men, their religion is neither useful to themselves nor to

others. Reader, it is possible to be in the Church of God and not

be of that Church; it is possible to have a measure of the Spirit

and neither profit nor be profited. Feel this dreadful

possibility, and pray to God that thou be not a proof of it.

Verse 7. Sprinkle water of purifying] mey

chattath, water of sin, or water of the sin-offering. As this

purifying water was made by the ashes of the red heifer,

cedar-wood, hyssop, and scarlet; and the heifer herself was

sacrificed, and her blood sprinkled seven times before the

tabernacle, Nu 19:3-6; she may be considered as a proper

sacrifice for sin, and consequently the water thus prepared be

termed the water of the sin-offering. As the ashes were kept

ready at hand for purifying from all legal pollutions, the

preparation might be considered as a concentration of the

essential properties of the sin-offering, and might be resorted to

at all times with comparatively little expense or trouble, and no

loss of time. As there were so many things by which legal

pollution might be contracted, it was necessary to have always at

hand, in all their dwellings, a mode of purifying at once

convenient and unexpensive. As the water by which the Levites

were here purified must have been the water prepared from the

ashes of the red heifer, this ordinance was undoubtedly instituted

before this time, though not described till Nu 19:1-10 of this

book; but that chapter might be in connection with any of the

preceding ordinances, as well as where it is now found. We see

from Heb 9:13, 14, that these ashes mingled with water, and

sprinkled on the unclean, and which sanctified to the purification

of the flesh, were intended to typify the blood of Christ, which

purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God,

Heb 9:15;

for as without this sprinkling with the water of the sin-offering

the Levites were not fit to serve God in the wilderness, so

without this sprinkling of the blood of Christ no conscience can

be purged from dead works to serve the living God. See the notes

on Nu 19:1-10.

Verse 10. Shall put their hands upon the Levites] It has been

argued from this that the congregation had a part in the

appointment of their own ministers, and that this was done by the

imposition of hands. However that may be, it appears that what

was done on this occasion meant no more than that the people gave

up this whole tribe to God in place of their firstborn; and that

by this act they bound themselves to provide for them who, because

of their sacred service, could follow no secular work. And surely

it was right, that they who served the altar should live by the

altar. The ministers of God perform offices for the people which

the people cannot perform for themselves; and nothing can be more

reasonable than that the people should give them the necessaries

and comforts of life while they are thus employed in their behalf.

Verse 17. For all the first-born-are mine] See the manner of

redeeming the first-born, Nu 18:6.

Verse 21. And Aaron made an atonement for them] Though the

Levites had been most solemnly consecrated to the Lord's service,

and though all legal washings and purifications were duly

performed on the occasion, yet they could not approach God till an

atonement had been made for them. How strange is it, after all

these significations, of the will and purpose of God relative to

man, that any priest or any people will attempt to draw nigh to

God without an atonement! As sure as God hath spoken it, there is

no entrance into the holiest but through the blood of Jesus,

Heb 10:19, 20.

Verse 24. From twenty and five years old]

See Clarke on Nu 4:3, where the two terms of twenty-five

and thirty years are reconciled.

Verse 26. To keep the charge, and shall do no service.] They

shall no longer be obliged to perform any laborious service, but

act as general directors and counsellors; therefore they were to

be near the camp, sing praises to God, and see that no stranger or

unclean person was permitted to enter. So the Jews and many other

persons have understood this place.

1. IF it required so much legal purity to fit the Levites for

their work in the tabernacle, can we suppose that it requires less

spiritual purity to fit ministers of the Gospel to proclaim the

righteousness of the Most High, and administer the sacred

ordinances of Christianity to the flock of Christ? If these must

be without spot, as the priests before without blemish, and these

were only typical men, we may rest assured that a Christian

minister requires no ordinary measures of holiness to prepare him

for an acceptable and profitable discharge of his office.

2. If the Christian ministry be established to prepare men for

the kingdom of God, of the holiness of which the purity of the

camp was but a faint emblem, how can any man expect to enter that

place of blessedness, who has not his heart sprinkled from an evil

conscience, and his body washed with pure water; his life and

conversation agreeable to the sacred precepts laid down in the

Gospel of Christ? If the law of Moses were more read in reference

to the Gospel, the Gospel itself and its requisitions would be

much better understood. Reader, however it may be with thee,

Antinomianism is more general among religious people than is

usually imagined. What multitudes of all denominations are

expecting to enter into the kingdom of God without any proper

preparation for the place! Without holiness none shall see the

Lord; and from this decision of the Divine justice there shall

never be any appeal.

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