Numbers 18:1-7 (Part 1) – Defending Your Kid Brother or Sister from the Punishment They Deserve…

Posted: September 19, 2016 in Book of Numbers

Numbers 18:1-7 (Part 1 of 2)

Duties of the Priest & The Levites

 

My brother and I were very close in age, only 18 months apart. We were so close in age we often participated on the same sports teams growing up. There might be one year here and there where we would be separated because he would pass the age break between team age classifications before I would, but you get the point. We were so close in age that there was no big brother/little brother separation. We were basically the same age although he would invoke the big brother privilege every now and then. There were those I had known growing where there were significant age differences between an older sibling and a younger sibling. You would see the little brother get themselves in a jam and the big brother would swoop in and defend his kid brother. Movies are made of such stuff. I remember in the movie, Stand By Me, John Cusack played, although it was a brief appearance, the big brother of the character played by Will Wheaton. In the movie, Will Wheaton’s character was like the forgotten son. John Cusack’s character was the superstar football player that everybody knew and admired while Will Wheaton was the much younger and more average kid. One scene of the movie, you see John Cusack’s character deflect the praise his parents were heaping on him so that he could get them hear what his little brother was saying. He was defending his brother to a set of parents who had lost sight of the fact that they had two boys and not just one.

 

My oldest daughter is 5 ½ years older than my youngest daughter. Whereas with me and my brother, we were so close in age that we fought like cats and dogs. But in my own children I got to see this concept of an older child looking after the younger child. Meghan and Taylor were oh so close growing up. Meghan was the mothering big sister and Taylor was the idolizing little sister. Meghan was fiercely protective of her little sister. Taylor was the precocious one who knew that Meghan always had her back. Taylor looked up to her sister and would sometimes obey her sister more than she would her parents. There was closeness that Meghan and Taylor had that my brother and I never had. My brother and I were so competitive with one another because we were so close in age that we would throw each other under the bus to preserve our victories over the other. Meghan and Taylor, though, were tight. There was such an age difference for them that they did not run in the same circles and were never at the same school at the same time. So, it was the classic big sister/little sister relationship. Meghan was a second mom to Taylor and would run interference with her mom to keep Taylor out of trouble. Taylor would do stuff for Meghan that a little sister could get away with that a big sister could not. They would work together to get what they wanted. Taylor admired her big sister and Meghan watched out for and defended her little sister. Although their relationship has hit a rough spot of late (at ages 26, Taylor, and 31, Meghan), I imagine that if the chips were down and each had no other to call, they would be there for each other.

 

It is that idea of taking the punishment for someone else or defending someone else in the face of wrongdoing like much older siblings often do for their younger siblings that I thought of this morning when I read Numbers 18:1-7 for our first pass at this Scripture this morning. Let us read through it together now:

 

 

18 The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your family are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood. 2 Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the tent of the covenant law. 3 They are to be responsible to you and are to perform all the duties of the tent, but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar. Otherwise both they and you will die. 4 They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the tent of meeting—all the work at the tent—and no one else may come near where you are.

 

5 “You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. 6 I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the tent of meeting. 7 But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

 

Here you see that the Levites clans were given to Aaron and his descendents to be the permanent helpers of the priests at the Tabernacle. There were to most everything at the Tabernacle except for certain duties reserved for the Aaronic priests. They were to be held responsible for any offenses related to sanctuary. The Levites were like the big brother or big sister taking the rap for the Israelites. They, then, had to make sure that the people understood what a violation was. If a violation occurred the Levites would take the punishment for it. They had to prevent people from getting to close to the holiness of God in their imperfections. They had to run interfence for them just like a big brother or big sister does sometimes for their precocious little brother or little sister.

 

Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? When we are a precocious little brother or little sister we drift off into territory that we should not and He comes and rescues us from the errors of our own making. When we get in trouble with the Lord through our sins, Jesus comes in and accepts the blame for our wrongdoing and accepts the punishment for it. We sin with impunity against the Lord. We are precocious sinners. We think we can get away with our sins by saying that they are OK. It is not OK even though we think we are the cute little brother or little sister. Sin is sin even if we change its name to something more acceptable. But when God’s wrath comes against us and we are rightfully to be consumed, and we scream out to the Lord to do something in all earnestness and humility knowing that we deserve our punishment, Jesus steps in and takes our punishment for us. We are preserved. We are wiped clean. We are saved from our own judgment. Oh yes, we deserved get our butt kicked. We deserve to be punished by God. However, Jesus steps in and defends us and takes the punishment that we deserve.

 

Are you a precocious sinning little brother or little sister? Are you in a jam from which you cannot extricate yourself? Do you see that you are about to be swallowed up in punishment for the sins of of your own making? Call out to Jesus right now? He is your Savior and He will take the fight that you should have fought? He will take the beating that you deserve? He will take the punishment that you deserve and will set you on high ground and clean you off and make you right with God. Are you ready? Are you willing to call on His name in humility and seeking forgiveness for the mess you have made of your life and the lives of others? Are you ready to accept His protection and love?

 

Amen and Amen.

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