Numbers 17:1 through 18:32

Daybreak for Students

Numbers 17:1 through 18:32

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK
Numbers 17
Numbers 18
And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you. — Numbers 17:5

In my first years of school, I heard an interesting story about a man and his wife. The man, who went to work each day, complained about his daily routine. He felt that his wife, who stayed at home cooking, tending the house and laundry, watching the baby, and milking the family cow, had the better life. One day, his wife gave him the opportunity to stay at home and she went to his workplace. Upon returning home that evening, she found an unhappy man. He had discovered through firsthand experience that satisfying a crying baby, keeping the cow in the pasture, washing clothes, and cooking dinner all at once, was not as easy or exciting as he had expected. He had a newfound respect for the difficult job his wife was doing — he was ready to go back to his job and let his wife continue in her former role!

Today’s focus verse tells how God indicated His choice of spiritual leader for His people, following the murmuring of the Children of Israel against the position that Moses held. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram had died because they desired greater stature and influence over the Children of Israel. Don’t we see a similar mindset in society today? People jockey for higher positions in their place of employment — possibly jobs that carry a little more authority or prestige. Self-promotion is commonplace as people strive to attain positions that they deem desirable.

Sadly, this way of thinking can infiltrate the Christian realm. The Apostle Paul warned about proud people who would seize authority in the local church and promote themselves (Acts 20:28-31). Rather than reaching for a position of authority, let us yield to the authority of God’s Word as well as the authority of God’s appointed leaders. In so doing, we will find ourselves to be submitted to God and to His will. Unless we do so, we cannot successfully claim our inheritance in Christ.

We read in Scripture that God takes the weak things of earth to confound the mighty. God’s choice of persons to fill leadership roles may not be who you had expected, but as you honor, support, and respect those whom the Lord has appointed, He will bless you accordingly.

BACKGROUND

God chose a simple test to prove once and for all that He had chosen Aaron and his sons to serve as priests. The leader of each tribe gave Moses a rod (stick) bearing the tribal name, so that every man might know his own and to prevent contests. Aaron’s name was upon the rod of Levi. Moses laid the rods in the Tabernacle of the congregation and told the people that the rod that sprouted would belong to the man that God had chosen to be the nation’s priest.

When Moses brought out the rods the next day, only Aaron’s rod had produced life. Aaron’s staff had not only sprouted, but had budded, blossomed, and produced almonds. This was unquestionably miraculous, and proved that Aaron was divinely appointed by God. However, rather than rejoice that the matter had been resolved, the Israelites overreacted and concluded that anybody who came near the Tabernacle would perish. It seems they had a fear of judgment but not a true fear of God in their hearts.

At this point, God repeated to Aaron His full instruction concerning Aaron’s office, a place of the highest responsibility. Both the priests and the Levites were to bear the iniquity of the sanctuary. If the sanctuary was profaned by the intrusion of strangers or unclean persons, the blame would lie with the Levites and priests, who were instructed to keep them out. If they neglected any part of their work or permitted other persons to take their work out of their hands, they would bear the blame for it. If they did not follow God’s instructions, they might die themselves.

God also outlined instructions as to how the Levites were to be supported by the people of God through the sacrifices, offerings, and tithes of the people. Other remunerations were received by the redemption of the firstborn of man and the firstborn of unclean beasts. Some of the food from the offerings could be eaten only by the priests, but much of it could be shared with their families. Whoever in the priest’s family ate of the sacrifices given to God had to ceremonially clean and treat the food with reverence because it had been sanctified by being presented to God.

The Levites were given the tithes that the people brought to God’s sanctuary. In turn, they were to give a tithe of what they received to the high priest. This could be considered paying a tenth part as tithes.

It was not for the sake of their personal merits above other Israelites that the priest and Levites had these tributes paid to them, but purely for the sake of the office to which they were appointed and anointed by God. While it could be considered a small remuneration for their services, it kept them independent and comfortable so that they could wait on the Lord’s work without distraction.

AMPLIFIED OUTLINE

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

II.   The journey from Sinai to the plains of Moab
     C.   The wanderings in the wilderness
            2.   The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
                   g.   The high priest divinely authenticated (17:1-13)
                          (1)   The command (17:1-7)
                          (2)   The vindication (17:8-13)
                   h.   The priesthood divinely confirmed (18:1-32)
                          (1)   Approval on the priests’ service (18:1-7)
                          (2)   Allotment for the priests’ service (18:8-32)

A CLOSER LOOK

  1. How did God prove to the people that Aaron was the appointed priest?

  2. What responsibilities were given the priests and the Levites, and why was this structure implemented?

  3. How should we respond to and support the ministry today?

CONCLUSION

Ministers entrusted with the charge of caring for souls have a great task to perform and a great deal to answer for. Let us be faithful to honor and support those whom God has appointed as the leaders in His Church.