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Commentary on Parashat Bamidbar (In the Desert)

Bamidbar (Numbers) 1:1–4:20
The Book of Numbers in Hebrew is called “In the Desert (Wilderness)” and it speaks of the time when the Children of Israel wandered in the desert after their redemption from slavery in Egypt. As we read chapter 1, we see the specific instruction to count every man from every tribe who is above the age of 20 (which was the minimum age to join the army). This applied to every tribe apart from the Levites because they were to care for the Tabernacle of God.

The Levites, however, were not numbered among them by their fathers’ tribe. For the LORD had spoken to Moses, saying,  “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor shall you take their census among the sons of Israel. “But you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all its furnishings and over all that belongs to it. They shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings, and they shall take care of it; they shall also camp around the tabernacle. “So when the tabernacle is to set out, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle encamps, the Levites shall set it up. But the stranger (Who is not a Levite) who comes near shall be put to death. “And the sons of Israel shall camp, each man by his own camp, and each man by his own standard, according to their armies. “But the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the testimony, that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall keep charge of the tabernacle of the testimony.” Thus the sons of Israel did; according to all which the LORD had commanded Moses, so they did.
Numbers 1:47–54

A key verse in this passage is verse 51:

So when the tabernacle is to set out, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle encamps, the Levites shall set it up. But the stranger (Who is not a Levite) who comes near shall be put to death.

Basically, the Levites were to be concernedonly with the Lord’sservice in the tabernacle. They were to set up and take down the tabernacle whenever Israel settled in a new spot. Their focus was not on war or the defense of the nation, but was instead on the things of God. If anyone who was not a Levite drew near to the work of the Lord, he would die (probably by God’s own hand).

By our modern standards, this may seem overly harsh, but I want us to understand this as a reflection of God’s pure holiness! Clearly, there were strict boundaries and judgment when it came to the Lordand His tabernacle. This also showed that God’s character is very ordered and His requirements are specific.

Let’s take a look at Revelation, chapter 15 and see how this connects:

And I saw, as it were, a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had come off victorious from the beast and from his image and from the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they *sang the song of Moses the bond-servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations.  “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE THEE, FOR THY RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.

After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened, and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean andbright, and girded around their breasts with golden girdles. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

We see that in the heavenly Tabernacle, all nations have access to worship the Almighty God. Yeshua is the reason! Not only is He “…the way, the truth, and the life, and no one can get to the Father but through [Him]”, but He also cleanses us from our sin so that we may be worthy to draw near in worship.

There are no short cuts, no other ways to reach God; it is only through Yeshua that we can have fellowship with the Father, and worship Him in spirit and in truth… Any other way will result in eternal separation from Him.

This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.

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Moran Rosenblit
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.

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