-The numbering continues in chapter three, now concerning the Levites, as the LORD continues to give word to Moses in the wilderness. Aaron and his sons are designated for various duties and places to camp surrounding the tabernacle, all of which they obeyed unto the LORD. “But Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD when they offered strange fire before the LORD in the wilderness of Sinai (see Leviticus 10:1-2 for more information, Numbers 3:4).” The Levites were God’s; therefore, He redeemed all of them from a month old and upward and the rest paid ransom for the rest of the firstborn from among the sons of Israel (Numbers 3:40-50). The money was given to Aaron and his sons, “at the command of the LORD (Numbers 3:51).” See the following quote for elaboration on this unique situation in Israel:
“The principle on which the enumeration of the Levites had been made was now to be applied to the other tribes. The number of their male children, from a month old and upward, was to be reckoned, in order that a comparison might be instituted with that of the Levites, for the formal adoption of the latter as substitutes for the first-born. The Levites, amounting to twenty-two thousand, were given in exchange for an equal number of the first-born from the other tribes, leaving an excess of two hundred seventy-three; and as there were no substitutes for these, they were redeemed at the rate of five shekels for each (Numbers 18:15-16). Every Israelite would naturally wish that his son might be redeemed by a Levite without the payment of this tax, and yet some would have to incur the expense, for there were not Levites enough to make an equal exchange. Jewish writers say the matter was determined by lot, in this manner: Moses put into an urn twenty-two thousand pieces of parchment, on each of which he wrote "a son of Levi," and two hundred seventy-three more, containing the words, "five shekels." These being shaken, he ordered each of the first-born to put in his hand and take out a slip. If it contained the first inscription, the boy was redeemed by a Levite; if the latter, the parent had to pay. The ransom money, which, reckoning the shekel at half a dollar, would amount to $2.50 each, was appropriated to the use of the sanctuary. The excess of the general over the Levitical first-born is so small, that the only way of accounting for it is, by supposing those first-born only were counted as were males remaining in their parents' household, or that those first-born only were numbered which had been born since the departure from Egypt, when God claimed all the first-born as his special property (see http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/numbers/numbers-3.html).”
-*Application* God entrusts certain people and calls them to full-time ministry to work in His House, otherwise now known as the church in Christianity. These are the principles we can glean from this study of the national order for the Hebrew people. Those called into obedient career service deserve our utmost loyalty and respect as long as they are following the Word of God. Otherwise, they are offering that “strange fire,” or in other words inauthentic ministry, which the LORD detests, and He will eventually punish them for that, often severely as we see in the Scriptures here. The ministry is hard, and pastors need our support, believe me, I am one. They are judged on a stricter standard and carry the weight of serving people’s souls (James 3:1). That is not a light responsibility and only accomplished with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Verse to Memorize: Numbers 3:4