Summary: The dedication of the Tabernacle and how it applies to how God orders things in the church today.
Thoughts about the passage:
Elizabeth Elliot tells in her book “Passion and Purity,” how on her first date with Jim Elliot (one of the five martyred missionaries in Ecuador), they went to a missionary meeting at Moody Church in Chicago, late in April. The speaker was one of the daughters of the famous missionary to Africa C.T. Studd. She told of her father’s last hours. He lay on his cot, gazing around the little hut and at his few possessions. “I wish I had something to leave to each of you,” he said to the handful of people present, “but I gave it all to Jesus long ago.”
In this chapter we are examining the events that occurred in the camp of Israel at Mount Sinai on the day the tabernacle was erected. Everything that was done in the camp of Israel was ordered by the Lord. In the church today God doesn’t speak audibly to His people as He did to Moses; but as they worship together, pray and study His Word, He reveals His will. God spoke to Moses about two important things: (1) caring for the lamps (vv. 1-4), and dedicating the Levites (vv. 5-16).
But God didn’t light the seven lamps on the golden lamp stand in the holy place. It was the duty of Aaron and his sons to trim the wicks, replenish the oil each day and make sure the light was shining (Lev. 24;1-3). Without the light, the priests couldn’t see to minister in the holy place. Without Jesus (“the light of the world” - I John 8:12) we can not see and understand spiritual truth. Unless the people obeyed God and worshiped Him as He commanded, Israel’s light of witness would become dim and eventually go out.
If Aaron and his sons were the “official ministers” in the camp, serving at the altar and in the tabernacle, then the Levites were the dedicated laymen who assisted the priests in their ministry. Since they were serving God at the tabernacle, the Levites had to be set apart for the Lord. First they were cleansed by water (vv. 5-7), but unlike the priests, were merely sprinkled (Ex. 29:4).
We serve the Lord by serving His people, but our orders must come from the Lord (II Cor. 4:5). No matter what task the Lord the Lord gives me to do, I must do it cheerfully and carefully.