- Not all families in God’s family hold the same rank or standing: 1) Judah and his “better” brothers (2:1-9 w/10-17, 18-32 = Judah’s group resided on the “east side” – or the neighborhood closest to the entrance to the tabernacle and was considered “first” versus Rueben’s group – though he was the firstborn – see Gen 49:1-12, 22-26), 2) The priests and Levites (1:51-53 w/2:33 = Priests/Levites were exempt from war and resided in neighborhood closest to the tabernacle; Eph 4:7 – “grace was given” = unmerited gifts based on what each person/family’s actions deserved; e.g. 1Ti 1:12-13).
“The structure of the camp represents a geographical configuration which combines levels of relative holiness and prominence with ultimate inclusion of all the tribes within the camp. Everyone belongs somewhere, but some are more equal than others.” – Dennis T. Olson
- To advance God’s kingdom on earth requires the covenant community obediently submit to and operate by clearly defined lines of order and structure (2:34; 1Co 12:7-28, 14:26-40).
- God shows NO partiality (3:1-4; 1Pe 1:14-17).
- The priests are : 1) the ordained sacred office in God’s house given God’s authority to guard the office, holy things, covenant and Law – i.e. to bind and loose (3:10 – “guard the priesthood”, 3:38 – “guarding the sanctuary”, 4:5-20 – “covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings…the holy things” w/18:5,7 w/Joh 20:21-23; 1Ti 5:21-25, 6:20; e.g. baptism and the LT), 2) never to be guilty of narcissism (3:10 – “guard the priesthood” = their focus is not the people but God and holiness).
- Like the priests, the Levites also represent the people before God (3:11-20, 39-51) but: 1) are a non-ordained sacred office separate from the priests (3:5-6, 9), 2) are appointed to oversee/care for (“guard”) the physical safety and upkeep of all physical things related to the house of God and its ministry including its priests, people and property (3:7-8 – “guard over him and over the whole congregation” = This includes the role of bouncer/enforcer – See v10, 21-31, 33-37, 4:1-4, 21- See also 18:1-4), 3) are under the authority and direction of the priests (3:9, 32, 4:27-28, 33 and 18:6), 4) are eligible to serve between the ages of 25 and 50 and then after that in a limited capacity – i.e. oversight and security roles only (4:3, 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, 47 w/8:24-26). Reconciling “thirty years old and up” to “twenty five years old and up”= The latter represents the age at which Levite men would begin their training versus the former which was the time when they were eligible for service in the tabernacle (4:3 – “come on duty for service in the tent” = Serve as priests at the tabernacle; 8:24 -“come to do duty in the service of the tent” = Do manual labor/be trained to be Levitical priests; See also Ezr 3:8 – “twenty years old and up” = Labor in building the Temple not serving as priests; See also 1Ch 23:3 w/24).
- The two sacred offices of priest and Levite still exist in the New Covenant house of God – i.e. the church (Isa 66:20-21 w/Exo 19 :6 w/Rev 1:6, 5:10).
- God will not dwell in the covenant community if those who deserve to be “put out of the camp” are tolerated (5:1-4).
- There is no statute of limitations – nor exceptions, for making full restitution plus a penalty of 20% when a person realizes they are/were guilty of possessing property or services thru sinful means/measures while in the covenant community (5:5-9 w/6:1-5; e.g. rec’d an internet order of greater value than what was ordered and decided to keep it; e.g. rec’d more change back at the store than you should have and decided to keep it).
- God expects husbands and wives to: 1) be jealous for each other’s sexual purity/fidelity (5:11-14), 2) investigate w/the promise of consequences if their spouse is found guilty of immorality (5:15-30).
- Those husbands or wives who do not investigate or seek consequences in relation to their cheating spouse share in their guilt (5:31).
- You cannot escape God’s justice (5:11-31 = Escaping the covenant community’s ability to prosecute does not mean we have escaped God’s finding other ways to punish those who are guilty).
- Suspicion is enough to begin an investigation, but never enough to convict/accuse/condemn a person for a particular sin/crime (5:11-31; Num 35:30; Deu 17:6).
- God is for the abortion of babies conceived through adultery (5:21-27 – “her womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away” = Literally, “Her womb shall discharge and her uterus shall drop out”; See NIV; “fall away” [Heb.“nephel”] = miscarriage/abortion – Psa 58:9; Job 3:16; Ecc 6:3; See also Hos 9:14-16).
“The consequence would be a spontaneous abortion or miscarriage of a fetus conceived by the illicit sexual activity.” – Dennis T. Olson
“The priests are authorized in these cases to concoct a medical potion and administer it as an abortifacient.” – Jon L. Berquist
“It is reasonable to conclude that at times, if not quite often, pregnancy [“her womb shall swell”] was material to the implementation of the ordeal. If this conclusion is correct, a pregnant woman who was “found out” by the ordeal would in fact lose her fetus; the ordeal would terminate her pregnancy.” – Baruch Levine