Seeing Christ in the sanctuary as the model of our walk, as depicted in previous verses, also gives us ability to serve. The dedication of the Levites, of the servants, is done according to the purity of the sanctuary, for that is the field of their service. They are an offering of the people to the LORD, and the LORD gives them to the priests. They can only be pleasing to God in their service in the value of the offering Christ has brought to God and the Divine judgment of sin.
At the dedication of the Levites we see a special involvement of the people, more so than in the dedication of the priests. Priestly service is not primarily aimed at fellow believers, but at God. Levite service is focused on each other. The service of the Levites is to the church.
By a separate ceremony the Levites are separated from the people. What happens to them is not a picture of the conversion of the sinner, but of making the believer fit to serve God in a way that is pleasing to Him. Here we see how first the persons are made fit, and then they come to a service that is pleasing to God. We must first give ourselves to the Lord, and only then give Him our service (2Cor 8:55and [this], not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.).
The first action is to be sprinkled with the purifying water. The cleaning does not consist of washing, but of sprinkling. Sprinkling is the transfer of the value of that which is sprinkled on the object which is sprinkled. By sprinkling it comes under the power of it. We see that with the sprinkling of blood. Sprinkling with water is done here. The purifying water is not used here because the Levites have sinned. That is not the case here. But a special awareness is needed of the work of the Lord Jesus through which the sins have been disposed of. The flesh must have no place, nothing what has to do with sin.
The second action is the shaving of all the hair from their bodies (cf. Lev 14:88The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean. Now afterward, he may enter the camp, but he shall stay outside his tent for seven days.). Hair speaks of what comes from natural man. That must be shaved. The razor represents the judgment that is passed over the flesh. Pride, for example, is such a hair growth that needs to be shaved, judged.
Then they have to wash their clothes. Clothes show what is public from man, how he behaves, the habits he has. Washing the clothes indicates that the whole revelation of the servant comes under the power of the Word.
After their cleansing the offerings can be brought, in this case two young bulls. The first is intended as a burnt offering, together with the accompanying grain offering; the other is a sin offering. Both the burnt offering and the sin offering is a great offering. Both offerings represent the degree of insight into the work of the Lord Jesus, on the basis of which they can perform their service. The service is performed at the level of the servant’s understanding of both the burnt offering – what the work of the Lord Jesus means to God, the honor He has given to God through it – and the sin offering – what the work of the Lord Jesus means in view of the problem of sin.
The laying on of hands by the Israelites shows their identification with the service of the Levites. All Israelites are involved, because the Levites are instead of the firstborn of the Israelites (verses 16-1816for they are wholly given to Me from among the sons of Israel. I have taken them for Myself instead of every first issue of the womb, the firstborn of all the sons of Israel.17For every firstborn among the sons of Israel is Mine, among the men and among the animals; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for Myself.18But I have taken the Levites instead of every firstborn among the sons of Israel.). It is also important that the field of their service is the people of God. It is important that the church can identify herself with the service of servants. God involves the whole people.
The Levites are moved back and forth as a wave offering before God’s face. God wishes His people to bring His servants before Him. God’s people should not speak of the weaknesses every servant has, but of the way in which these servants remind them of the Lord Jesus, the true wave offering. After the people have moved the Levites back and forth as a wave offering, the priests also have to move the Levites back and forth. The service of each servant is in connection with both the daily life of God’s people and the priestly service.