Monday after Invocavit
Scripture: Numbers 3:5-13 (NKJV)
5 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 6 “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him. 7 And they shall attend to his needs and the needs of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of meeting, to do the work of the tabernacle. 8 Also they shall attend to all the furnishings of the tabernacle of meeting, and to the needs of the children of Israel, to do the work of the tabernacle. 9 And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are given entirely to him from among the children of Israel. 10 So you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall attend to their priesthood; but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death.”
11 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 12 “Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine, 13 because all the firstborn are Mine. On the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast. They shall be Mine: I am the Lord.”
This text emphasizes the unique relationship between God and those He calls to officially serve Him and His house. The tribe of Levi is chosen from the twelve tribes of Israel to facilitate the public worship and ministry ordained by God. Then the house of Aaron is further honored by being called to serve as members of the ordained priesthood. If anyone else, lacking this divine authorization, should attempt to approach the altar of God in this capacity they are to be killed.
Service at the tabernacle may be performed only at the express appointment of the Lord. While those called to ministry in God’s house were authorized persons, they are not to deviate from divinely unauthorized means though. The paragraph just before our text tells of the death of Aaron’s sons for offering unauthorized worship (innovative worship). If the sons of Aaron were put to death for inappropriately performing their duties, how dare any person think of performing those tasks without a proper call to the Office of the Ministry?
The New Testament carries no command to kill those who offer unauthorized worship or attempt to approach the ministry in an innovative way. There are abundant warnings though, against approaching Christ’s Means of Grace in an inappropriate manner and trying to innovate the Gospel received from Jesus and His Apostles. In this Lenten Season we can rejoice that our sins are forgiven purely by grace, but let us not abuse the grace of God by thinking we have an artistic license of sorts to do with God’s Means as we wish. God through Word and Sacrament has provided more than adequately for His Elect regarding how He wishes to come to us and have us come to Him.
Let us rejoice in God’s chosen means of ministry graciously sent. Amen.