(Numbers 3, Psalm 37; Optional Romans 12:14-18, Proverbs 20:24-26)
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NUMBERS 3 – God set aside the entire tribe of Levi as belonging to Him in a special way, and reserved certain aspects of serving / guarding in and around the for certain families among the Levites (Gershonites in v 21-26, Kohathites in v 27-32, Merarites in v 33-37).
Num 3:1-4 – Aaron (older brother of Moses) was chosen by Yahweh to be the first high priest, with his sons being priests.
Num 3:4 – A reminder of how God executed two of the first priests apparently while in their installation service – see Lev 10. This adds extra weight to the warnings in Num 3:10, 38!
Num 3:11-13, 40-51 – An important part of the picture of the first Passover story that was only implied there (see Ex 12-13; especially compare Ex 4:21-23, Ex 12:12-13, Ex 13:11-15). The Levites are received by God as a SUBSTITUTE for the lives of the firstborn sons (see Num 3:11-13, 39-45).
Combined with the SUBSTITUTION of the Passover lamb in the place of the firstborn back in Ex 12, here’s the clear picture that emerges… Israel was NOT “passed over” in judgment in Ex 12 because they were any less DESERVING of judgment than the Egyptians, but because God received a SUBSTITUTE in their place. The Passover lamb got the death they deserved, allowing the Israelites to be alive and free and belong to God. And every time they saw a priest serving in or around the tabernacle it was another reminder that God graciously receives a SUBSTITUTE, but NOT that we can do our own thing, but to belong to Him.
D.A. Carson has a helpful note from his wonderful devotional book (For the Love of God, Vol 1) in his comments on Num 3: [”The fulfillment of these patterns under the terms of the new covenant is not hard to find. We are saved from death by the death of the supreme Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7). Those saved by his blood belong to the Lord in a peculiar way, i.e., not only by virtue of creation but by virtue of redemption (1 Cor. 6:20). He demands that we live for him and his service, and in this we constitute a nation of priests (1 Peter 2:5–6; Rev. 1:6).”]
Num 3:44-51 – Lots of use of “REDEMPTION”. Remember the three ideas connected with this hugely important concept: 1) a price PAID, 2) a rescue MADE, 3) a claim LAID. The “claim laid” part is especially clear in this text – all the talk of folks belonging to God (Num 3:12-13, 45).
PSALM 37 – This Psalm (and Ps 73 – just flip the numbers) is very helpful for the many times in life when the evil SEEMS to be winning.
Ps 37:1-9 – Two commands on what NOT to do when evil SEEMS to be winning: 1) Don’t FRET (v 1a). 2) Don’t FOLLOW (v 1b) or be envious. Instead, we should remember the END of their story (v 2 – “soon fade” – at least in light of eternity it’s soon), and follow the positive commands in v 3-9.
Ps 37:2 – “soon / quickly” – at least in light of eternity, where we’ll look back and see this entire LIFE as very short (James 4:14).
Ps 37:3 – “Trust in Yahweh, and do good…” – this summarizes what believers are supposed to do INSTEAD of fretting over or being envious of the evil that seems to be winning for awhile.
Ps 37:8 – Commands to stay away from some VERY common fleshly reactions among believers! How can we stay away from worry and anger? Remember the END of the story – see v 9-20, 35-40 (and this is VERY clear in Ps 73).
Ps 37:21-22 – A practical daily application of remembering the end of the story (that the righteous inherit the earth – see Matt 5:5, 1 Cor 3:21-23). Believers can afford to be GENEROUS in our giving because we know that God takes care of His people. Compare Matt 6:24-33 where Jesus teaches His followers not to be anxious about financial things – God will care for His people.
Ps 37:25-26 – Things OFTEN go better even in this life for believers. Not that life here is trouble free, for sure (see Ps 37:16, 24, 32). But even when there are troubles in this life, the Lord helps the believer get back up on go on (Ps 37:24 – cf Prov 24:16, Mic 7:8, 2 Cor 4:9). And there’s a wonderful END of the story for every believer (see Ps 37:37-40 and compare Rev 21-22)!
Ps 37:26 – Contrast Ps 37:28 and carefully note the multi-generational impact of our path.
Optional Rom 12:14-18 – Sounds a lot like unpacking and applying Ps 37 from earlier today! This is a beautiful picture of the daily life of a believer who is NOT fretting over evil but instead trusting in God and doing good!
Optional Proverbs 20:24-26 – Prov 20:26 – compare with Ps 37 and how God cares about justice being done. Also cf Prov 20:8. Jesus will do this PERFECTLY (see Matt 3:12), but earthly rulers should seek to be firm in applying the law in clear punishment of evildoers (see also Rom 13:1-4).