Monday after Rogate
Scripture: Numbers 8:5-26 (NKJV)
5 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 6 “Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them ceremonially. 7 Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purification on them, and let them shave all their body, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean. 8 Then let them take a young bull with its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, and you shall take another young bull as a sin offering. 9 And you shall bring the Levites before the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall gather together the whole congregation of the children of Israel. 10 So you shall bring the Levites before the LORD, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites; 11 and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD, like a wave offering from the children of Israel, that they may perform the work of the LORD. 12 Then the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the young bulls, and you shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to the LORD, to make atonement for the Levites. 13 And you shall stand the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and then offer them like a wave offering to the LORD. 14 Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine. 15 After that the Levites shall go in to service the tabernacle of meeting. So you shall cleanse them and offer them, like a wave offering. 16 For they are wholly given to Me from among the children of Israel; I have taken them for Myself instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the children of Israel. 17 For all the firstborn among the children of Israel are Mine, both man and beast; on the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them to Myself. 18 I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn of the children of Israel. 19 And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the work for the children of Israel in the tabernacle of meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Israel, that there be no plague among the children of Israel when the children of Israel come near the sanctuary.”
20 Thus Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel did to the Levites; according to all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so the children of Israel did to them. 21 And the Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes; then Aaron presented them, like a wave offering before the LORD, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. 22 After that the Levites went in to do their work in the tabernacle of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them. 23 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “This is what pertains to the Levites: From twenty-five years old and above one may enter to perform service in the work of the tabernacle of meeting; 25 and at the age of fifty years they must cease performing this work, and shall work no more. 26 They may minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of meeting, to attend to needs, but they themselves shall do no work. Thus you shall do to the Levites regarding their duties.”
The Lord spared the firstborn of Israel, taking instead for His own the Levite men from the age of twenty-five to assist the priests in the tabernacle of meeting. Their preparation for service included sprinkling with water. We would assume it to have been simply clean water, like that used by the priests to prepare themselves for worship. Also, a part of their dedication was the sacrifice of two young bulls; the one a burnt sacrifice, the other a sin offering. The Levites were thus sanctified to the Lord.
We too were sanctified and set apart for the Lord’s service, regardless of our vocation on earth, when we were cleansed in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. As with the Levites, it was a washing with simple water, but water together with the Word of God. Through that blessed act of God we share in the death of our Savior Jesus Christ. As He rose again, victorious over sin and death on the third day, so also we emerged from the font not only cleansed, but also sanctified by God and blessed with the promise that we need no longer fear death.
What a day it was—clean water, clean clothing, clean linens, and a clean little you and me—a day marked with joy and congenial company celebrating together! But it all means nothing without the sanguinary sacrificial suffering and death of Christ on the cross.
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heav’nly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.