Caretakers of the Tabernacle
Imagine living during the time of Moses’ Tabernacle – Israel’s mobile “church” for over 400 years. God established it as His dwelling place, based on a very detailed blueprint given to Moses. And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it. Ex. 25:8-9 There was also a specific group of people, the Levites, who were assigned to be caretakers of the tabernacle. What was it that made them so special? Why were they chosen and not some other tribe?
Who’s On The Lord’s Side?
If you feel like shouting a resolute “I am.”, to the above question, you would be among the Levites. Remember when Moses came down from the mountain and Aaron had let the congregation get out of control? They created an idol (golden calf) and were engaged in sinful behavior. Moses stood and proclaimed, “All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me.” And all the Levites gathered around him. Ex. 32:26 That was the easy part. Moses then instructs the Levites to take up swords and begin killing the idolaters, which resulted in 3,000 casualties. Sounds like some kind of elite military squad. Actually, the Levites were exempt from military status in Israel.
Full Time Priests
Moses makes it clear that the Levites were not to be included in the military census. Num. 1:49 Aside from their initial assignment, their calling was to set up, tear down, transport, and maintain, everything in God’s wilderness tabernacle. Num. 1:50-51 For convenience sake, the neighborhood of tents in the closest proximity to the tabernacle were occupied by these committed servants. Num. 1:53
Some have compared the role of the Levites to those who are called to full time ministry. This is certainly a valid analogy. But I believe that every believer is a priest in his/her own right, and thus called to function as a Levite. Each piece of “spiritual equipment” was a symbol of present reality, while also being a type of future spiritual realities, which are now a present experience for us. We are all responsible, in a mystical sort of way, to attend to the furnishings of the tabernacle.
The Altar of Burnt Offering was the place of sacrifice. Ex. 27:1 It was the place of atonement from sin, which required the shedding of blood. Lev. 17:11 This points us of course to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Heb. 7:27
The Laver (Basin) for washing, was another element in the cleansing process. Ex. 30:17 Again, we come to the wonderful reality of salvation in Christ. Titus 3:5 The initial rebirth is followed by the ongoing, available source of washing via the word of God. Eph. 5:26
Inner Court (Holy Place)
The Table of Showbread or the Bread of His Presence, was a symbol of spiritual sustenance. Ex. 25:30 The true bread from heaven is Jesus. Jn. 6:32-33 In a mysterious way, He always was, with Israel. 1 Cor. 10:3-4
The Lampstand (Candlestick) was for illumination in a practical sense, along with a spiritual application. Ps. 119:105 The ultimate light is Jesus. Jn. 8:12
The Altar of Incense speaks to us of worship and prayer. Ps. 141:2 In the new covenant established in Christ, this is the calling for every believer. Jn. 4:23-24
Holy of Holies
The Ark of the Covenant was in a veiled enclosure, accessed only by the high priest once a year. Inside the box (ark) was manna, Aaron’s staff, and the tablets engraved by God. Heb. 9:4-5 What a quantum leap for the born again believer, going from almost no access to unlimited access in Christ. Heb. 4:15-16
Even more astounding, is the spiritual reality that God would eventually “tabernacle” inside the very soul of mankind; to go from dwelling among to dwelling within. God was planning all along to transition into making His home inside of us. Jn. 14:23 Christ lives in me. Gal. 2:20 He dwells in my heart. Eph. 3:17 Col. 1:27
The Levites were given as gifts to the high priest. Num. 8:18-19 Their special designation is made clear when Israel enters the promised land and the tribes are receiving their distributions of land. The Levites were not given any property to own, but they had something better. Josh. 13:33 They were however given cities to live in, and among them were six cities of refuge. Num. 35: 6-7
As modern day Levites, we too are His inheritance. I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling—that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones! Eph. 1:18 TPT
Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. Heb. 8:1-2 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. Heb. 10:12-13
The mobile tabernacle is still on the move. We, the church, are the ground troops serving under the banner of the High Priest in the heavens. Our calling as Levites is to be tough in standing against idolatry in our midst, while tender in God’s cities of refuge, healing the wounded, restoring the outcast.
So…Who’s on the Lord’s side?