The tribe of Levi were chosen from among the people of Israel as the priests of the temple. Their responsibility was to guard the holy place, and to offer sacrifices in worship to God. Did you ever wonder what was so special about the Levites that God would select them as his priesthood?
The story is a heartbreaking and gruesome tale of true worship abandoned and idolatry embraced. While Moses was on the mountain receiving instruction from God about how the people of Israel were to worship, the Israelites were down below, begging Aaron to make them a god to worship. Aaron duly obliged, taking their gold, melting it down, making a golden calf, and offering sacrifices to it.
When Moses returns from the mountain, he finds the Israelites run amok. Breaking the tablets he had received from God, he seizes the calf, melts it down, grinds it into a powder, and makes them drink it. Then…
Exodus 32:25 And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”
The Levites were chosen because they were the only ones who would stand with God. There has always been, and always will be, the lure to abandon the worship of God; to make for ourselves gods that we will serve and sacrifice for. The temptation to replace the One True God with our infantile desires is constant. But there are people who will not compromise their relationship with God. They are a strange people who don’t fit in with their culture, receive strange looks from family and friends, and suffer persecution because of what they hold to be sacred. Why would they do it?
In Numbers 18:20 tells us:
And the Lord said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.
The Levites sacrificed a great deal to be the servants of God. Their worship was costly, none more so than in the area of wealth and possessions. They had no land to call their own. But what they did receive was the favor and presence of the Lord. God was what they were after.
1 Peter 2:9 says: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
The priesthood lives on in the people who have made the choice to serve God above all else. These are the people who worship the Father in spirit and in truth; the true worshipers. They live lives that speak of the greatness of God, letting every peculiar choice in the eyes of the world distinguish them from those who go with the flow. It’s God they’re after, and it’s God they shall receive.