Numbers 8:5-26 (Part 8) – Jesus, The Cure to Our Andromeda Strain of Sin

Posted: August 8, 2016 in 04-Numbers
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Numbers 8:5-26 (Part 8)

The Levites Dedicated

One of my favorite movies from the early 1970s was a movie called “The Andromeda Strain.” Back in the early 1970s in the later stages of the Vietnam War, where our nation lost its first war (or maybe just didn’t win it), our nation was reeling. The national psyche was morose at best. We seemed obsessed with the post-apocalyptic world at the time and there was a general sense of hopelessness. All the protests of the 60s had given way to a general tiredness of the people and a sense that nothing had really changed. New York City was on the verge of financial collapse. Big cities seemed crime havens of the highest proportion. Charles Manson had committed his post-hippie crimes. It was in this era of us being our own worst enemy and causing our own self-destruction that this movie was made.


When virtually all of the residents of Piedmont, New Mexico, are found dead after the return to Earth of a space satellite, the head of the US Air Force’s Project Scoop declares an emergency. Many years prior to this incident, a group of eminent scientists led by Dr. Jeremy Stone (Arthur Hill) advocated for the construction of a secure laboratory facility that would serve as a base in the event an alien biological life form was returned to Earth from a space mission. Stone and his team go to the facility, known as Wildfire, and try to first isolate the life form while determining why two people from Piedmont (an old wino and a six-month-old baby) survived. The scientists methodically study the alien life form unaware that it has already mutated and presents a far greater danger in the lab, which is equipped with a nuclear self-destruct device should it manage to escape.


It was a baby and an old alcoholic man that had escaped death in the town because their pH levels were different from normal adult humans. It was this discovery that gave them hope that they could solve the plague caused by this interstellar virus. However, the virus already mutated with the facility and started eating away at all the rubber seals in the facility and sets of the nuclear self-destruct sequence for the facility. But the knowledge gained allowed to defeat the virus end the end using mother nature herself.


That idea of a self-inflicted plague and needing a group of scientists at a secure military facility to figure out what was going on behalf of all mankind was the first thing that I thought of this morning when I read through this passage for the next to the last time in our series of blogs on this passage.


Let’s read the full passage together and then let’s concentrate once again on v. 19 for today after we have read through it:


5 The Lord said to Moses: 6 “Take the Levites from among all the Israelites and make them ceremonially clean. 7 To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. And so they will

purify 3themselves. 8 Have them take a young bull with its grain offering of the finest flour mixed with olive oil; then you are to take a second young bull for a sin offering.[a] 9 Bring the Levites to the front of the tent of meeting and assemble the whole Israelite community. 10 You are to bring the Levites before the Lord, and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them. 11 Aaron is to present the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the Lord.


12 “Then the Levites are to lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, using one for a sin offering to the Lord and the other for a burnt offering, to make atonement for the Levites. 13 Have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons and then present them as a wave offering to the Lord. 14 In this way you are to set the Levites apart from the other Israelites, and the Levites will be mine.


15 “After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a wave offering, they are to come to do their work at the tent of meeting. 16 They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me. I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn, the first male offspring from every Israelite woman. 17 Every firstborn male in Israel, whether human or animal, is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set them apart for myself. 18 And I have taken the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons in Israel. 19 From among all the Israelites, I have given the Levites as gifts to Aaron and his sons to do the work at the tent of meeting on behalf of the Israelites and to make atonement for them so that no plague will strike the Israelites when they go near the sanctuary.”


20 Moses, Aaron and the whole Israelite community did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses. 21 The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes. Then Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the Lord and made atonement for them to purify them. 22 After that, the Levites came to do their work at the tent of meeting under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. They did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses.


23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, 25 but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. 26 They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”


“So that no plague will strike the Israelites when to near the sanctuary” was what struck me this morning. For some reason that made me think of the movie, The Andromeda Strain. It was a great book and an equally good movie. It was the irony of the movie that it was a Defense Department satellite, a satellite launched as a top secret thing, outside of the more public and more benign space program of Apollo and the Viking satellites and such. It was our own paranoia of defense against all enemies that brought this plague back to earth and could have easily wiped out the world’s population rather quickly. It was only through the acts of this team of scientists working on behalf of all mankind that mankind was saved from our self-induced destruction. If man, particularly our Defense Department, in the movie, had not been dabbling in ways to send uncontrollable death upon our enemies, we would not have encountered this plague that could have killed us all not just our enemies. So, thank God for these scientists that did the work necessary to identify what the virus was so that it could not destroy us.


It is similar here in the passage. The Israelites being humans after the fall of Adam and Eve are sin-filled people, just as we are today. Sin taints us. The sin nature that is passed onto us from Adam and Eve makes us imperfect. It is not a matter of if we will sin. It is a matter of only when. Just think how quickly that happens for us after birth! Thus, the Levites became the specialist of the temple and did the work of the temple on behalf of a nation of sinners. The Levites went through all the purifications necessary to operate in close proximity to the presence of God. They did this on behalf of a nation that could not do this for themselves. Again, this morning, the Levites remind me of what Jesus does for us. They are a symbol of the real thing that Jesus does for us. He does for us, on our behalf, what we cannot do for ourselves.


One of the things that I often do when I discuss the whole perfection of God vs. imperfection of man thing is to kind of use a space age analogy. When something imperfect such we as sinful man comes in contact with the perfect and pure God who has no sin or no evil in Him, we would be consumed. We would be vaporized in his presence. I liken it to a Star Trek redshirt crewmember back in the original series (where special effects are not what they are now) who gets vaporized by a laser. The redshirt is gone, vaporized. It is like that for us in the presence of God on our own merits. His perfection would cause our imperfections to consume us and destroy us. Kind of like the destruction of rubber products by the virus in the Andromeda Strain. We would burn up and turn to brittle ash in the presence of a perfect God. We need an intercessor. A covering. We need help to stand in the presence of a perfect God. We need Jesus. The only way we would not be consumed by our own imperfections in the presence of a perfect, pure, holy God is through the covering of His own Son, the perfect, pure, and holy Jesus Christ. His covering of us protects us from being consumed in the presence of the perfect, holy, and pure God. Jesus is our shield like the deflector shield on the USS Enterprise. He protects us from our own destruction in the presence of a perfect and holy God.


We are made perfect in Christ. We are made holy in Christ. It is a gift from this perfect and holy God that we are able to be in his presence. It is through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross that we are made perfect. He took on our sins and the sins of the whole world for all time on the cross. He then died a physical death so that our sins would die with Him in the grave. He came back to life and arose from the dead to give us victory over our sin. Without that death on the cross and without his burial in the tomb, our sins would consume us in the presence of God. It is only through the covering of Jesus Christ that we are made perfect and holy. Once we commit our first sin, not to mention a lifetime of them, we are tainted before God and would be consumed in his presence. As such, we cannot be in his presence with any sin and thus are relegated to our deserved punishment in hell. It is only through Jesus Christ. It is only through His work on our behalf that we have the freedom to operate in the presence of God in heaven. We are made perfect by Jesus not by our own work. We have brought about our own self-destruction by own sin nature. One sin, like a virus brought back on a defense department satellite, spreads throughout our whole being and taints us. It is only through the work of Jesus that we can prevent the disease of sin from consuming us in the presence of our Judge, the Lord God. When you think about it this way, Jesus is more than just a buddy that we sometimes try to make Him out to be. He is Savior! He is the One without whom we would be consumed. He is our lifeline to eternity. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and our absolute necessity for survival in eternity. He is the cure. He is the covering that prevents our virus of sin from killing us eternally. He is our Levite priest working on our behalf before a perfect and just God. He is our Project Wildfire that is the cure for our sin virus. He is our covering before a perfect and just God.


Amen and Amen.

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