We see something of the special authority David has to arrange the Levite service. He subtracts another five years from the age already lowered by the LORD by five years (verse 2424These were the sons of Levi according to their fathers’ households, [even] the heads of the fathers’ [households] of those of them who were counted, in the number of names by their census, doing the work for the service of the house of the LORD, from twenty years old and upward.; Num 8:2424“This is what [applies] to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall enter to perform service in the work of the tent of meeting.). The reduction to 20 years is confirmed in verse 2727For by the last words of David the sons of Levi [were] numbered from twenty years old and upward.. The reason is that there is now rest (verse 2525For David said, “The LORD God of Israel has given rest to His people, and He dwells in Jerusalem forever.). The Levites are no longer in wilderness conditions. The task has become easier. They no longer need to demolish and rebuild everything and no transport is needed anymore (verse 2626Also, the Levites will no longer need to carry the tabernacle and all its utensils for its service.”). Therefore, the age limit can be lowered.
In the spiritual application this is about the limit of the spiritual maturation. There are circumstances that this can be reduced. Even the youngest believer can already perform a certain service in the church. Where conditions are favorable and a simple service is requested, a young believer with little spiritual exercise can perform it. When it comes to greater responsibilities, there will have to be a greater spiritual maturity. In any case, young people who perform a spiritual service should behave in such a way that no comments can be made about their youth (1Tim 4:1212Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but [rather] in speech, conduct, love, faith [and] purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.).
Verses 28-3228For their office is to assist the sons of Aaron with the service of the house of the LORD, in the courts and in the chambers and in the purifying of all holy things, even the work of the service of the house of God,29and with the showbread, and the fine flour for a grain offering, and unleavened wafers, or [what is baked in] the pan or what is well-mixed, and all measures of volume and size.30They are to stand every morning to thank and to praise the LORD, and likewise at evening,31and to offer all burnt offerings to the LORD, on the sabbaths, the new moons and the fixed festivals in the number [set] by the ordinance concerning them, continually before the LORD.32Thus they are to keep charge of the tent of meeting, and charge of the holy place, and charge of the sons of Aaron their relatives, for the service of the house of the LORD. summarize the service of the Levites. What is that task? They serve the priests who in turn serve the LORD. According to Moses’ ordinances, the Levites were given as a gift to the priests (Num 18:66Behold, I Myself have taken your fellow Levites from among the sons of Israel; they are a gift to you, dedicated to the LORD, to perform the service for the tent of meeting.). The Levites serve to support the priestly service.
Levite service in a New Testament sense is a service for building up the church. Their service is aimed at teaching believers to praise God more and better. The purpose of their service is that the believers will offer their lives more as sacrifices to God and offer the results of their work for God to Him. If in a local church the believers live in a spirit of worship, this will be noticed in worship and in the practical life of the believers.
There are also Levites that go over the courts (verse 2828For their office is to assist the sons of Aaron with the service of the house of the LORD, in the courts and in the chambers and in the purifying of all holy things, even the work of the service of the house of God,). These are the gatekeepers. Different people are standing at the gates. They must ensure that only the right people are admitted in the courts. Another task of the Levites is “the purifying of all holy things”. A worthy sacrifice service can only take place by cleansed persons and cleansed means. Levites ensure that there are no elements in worship that disturb or harm the sacrifice service. They supervise the purity of worship.
Furthermore, they have a task with regard to “the work of the service of the house of God”. That is for us to apply to our behavior in the house of God. We need to know how we have to behave there (1Tim 3:1515but in case I am delayed, [I write] so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.). For this purpose, the Lord has given His instructions in His Word.
There is extensive reference to different types of bread (verse 2929and with the showbread, and the fine flour for a grain offering, and unleavened wafers, or [what is baked in] the pan or what is well-mixed, and all measures of volume and size.). It is about “the showbread”, which is the bread on the table of the showbread, and about various forms of the “grain offering” (cf. Lev 2:1-161‘Now when anyone presents a grain offering as an offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it.2He shall then bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests; and shall take from it his handful of its fine flour and of its oil with all of its frankincense. And the priest shall offer [it] up in smoke [as] its memorial portion on the altar, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.3The remainder of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons: a thing most holy, of the offerings to the LORD by fire.4‘Now when you bring an offering of a grain offering baked in an oven, [it shall be] unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers spread with oil.5If your offering is a grain offering [made] on the griddle, [it shall be] of fine flour, unleavened, mixed with oil;6you shall break it into bits and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering.7Now if your offering is a grain offering [made] in a pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.8When you bring in the grain offering which is made of these things to the LORD, it shall be presented to the priest and he shall bring it to the altar.9The priest then shall take up from the grain offering its memorial portion, and shall offer [it] up in smoke on the altar [as] an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.10The remainder of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons: a thing most holy of the offerings to the LORD by fire.11‘No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD.12As an offering of first fruits you shall bring them to the LORD, but they shall not ascend for a soothing aroma on the altar.13Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.14‘Also if you bring a grain offering of early ripened things to the LORD, you shall bring fresh heads of grain roasted in the fire, grits of new growth, for the grain offering of your early ripened things.15You shall then put oil on it and lay incense on it; it is a grain offering.16The priest shall offer up in smoke its memorial portion, part of its grits and its oil with all its incense as an offering by fire to the LORD.). There is talk of “well-mixed” and of fittings’ and of “all measures of volume and size”. All these breads speak of the Lord Jesus. The Levites make sure that the loaves are of the right composition (“well-mixed”), that the right volume is used and that the right size is also maintained.
We can apply this to our being busy with the Lord Jesus as the true grain offering and as the true bread of life. The Levites are for us the teachers who explain God’s Word to us. They show by means of God’s Word Who the Lord Jesus is as food for God. The “well-mixed” or the composition of the bread represents that we confess Christ as come into the flesh (1Jn 4:22By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;). That is, He truly became Man – however, without participating in the sinful nature that every man has (Heb 4:1515For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin.) –, but at the same time never ceases to be the eternal Son of God. They must beware not to go deeper – we must pay attention to the right ‘measure of volume’ – nor further – the right ‘measure of size – than what God’s Word makes clear. We should not try to enter into things that God hides from us (cf. Mt 11:27a27All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal [Him].), nor add to what God’s Word shows us.
The order in the house of God is also maintained by the Levites, which is represented in the care for the table of the showbread. They must also ensure that the volume and size of everything is to the measure of the sanctuary. Only then can a service take place that can be accepted by God. No personal interpretation may be given in any way about the composition of, for example, a grain offering.
Again other Levites have the task of singing (verses 30-3130They are to stand every morning to thank and to praise the LORD, and likewise at evening,31and to offer all burnt offerings to the LORD, on the sabbaths, the new moons and the fixed festivals in the number [set] by the ordinance concerning them, continually before the LORD.). Every day in the morning and evening, every week, every month and every year they let their voices be heard on those days and at those occasions when bringing the burnt offering. The sacrifices at different feasts must be brought by the priests, but they are prepared by the Levites. Levite service precedes every sacrificial service. Young priests gratefully use Levites.
Finally, a summary of the tasks is given (verse 3232Thus they are to keep charge of the tent of meeting, and charge of the holy place, and charge of the sons of Aaron their relatives, for the service of the house of the LORD.). The tasks of the Levites are primarily connected with “the tent of meeting”. This is the place where God meets His people, it is a place of fellowship between God and His people. The people there may come to God on the basis of the sacrifice, which is a picture of the Lord Jesus and His work on the cross, to worship Him for the gift of that Sacrifice.
This leads to the second task, which is their “charge of the holy place”. In the sanctuary it is about approaching God rather than being together. With a view to approaching God, priests must know what is appropriate. That is what the Levites make clear to them. This also explains their third task, their “charge of the sons of Aaron their relatives, for the service of the house of the LORD”. They prepare the priests, here described as “the sons of Aaron”, to perform their service properly in the house of the LORD.
They do not do this as their superiors, but as “their relatives””, or “their brothers. We read here that the Levites and the priests are brothers of each other. This is the only right relationship to serve other members of God’s people. The New Testament believer is as much a priest as a Levite. Both aspects should be expressed in his life, to the Lord Jesus and God as a priest and to the fellow believers as Levites.