We dedicate all sorts of things. People dedicate babies, businesses have dedications ceremonies of buildings, churches have dedication ceremonies. And in this Scripture we see the dedication of the altar of the tabernacle take place by the people of Israel.
To review, the census was taken, the tribes were organized and the Levites were separated into 3 divisions and assigned their duties. The Gershonites took care of moving the screens and the curtains around the tabernacle and alter, the Merarites were to take care of something but we are not told what, and the Kohathites who took care of the most holy objects such as the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars and more.
Dedication Gifts for the Altar
Now it was time to dedicate the tabernacle to the Lord. The 12 tribes brought 6 ox carts and 12 oxen. These were distributed to the Gershonites and Merarites to help them with moving the supplies. The Kohathites were to move the most holy objects with poles on their shoulders so no oxen for them.
Then each tribe brought their gifts, which were all the same (repeated 12 times in this chapter):
- One silver dish eight 3 1/4 pounds filled with flour and oil for a grain offering
- One silver basin weighting 1 3/4 pounds filled with flour and oil for a grain offering
- One gold bowl weighing 4 oz’s, full of incense (perhaps a food/fire offering? Lev 2:2)
- One young bull for a burnt offering
- One ram for a burnt offering
- One male lamb a year old for a burnt offering
- One male goat for a sin offering
- Two bulls, five rams, five male breeding goats and five male lambs a year old for the fellowship offering
And after the dedication of the altar, “Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony from between the two cherubim. He spoke to him that way” (Lev 7:89).
Dedication of the Levites
Next came the dedication of the Levites in place of the first born. When the plague of death passed over Egypt killing all the first born, the LORD preserved the lives of the first born Israelites. Therefore the Israelites were to dedicate their firstborn to the Lord.
But instead of taking the firstborn of every family, the Lord allowed the whole tribe of Levites to take their place. Why the Levites? Because when the people sinned against the Lord at Mt. Sinai and Moses returned and saw them worshipping idols, Moses was enraged.
“Moses stood at the camp’s entrance and said, “Whoever is for the Lord come to me.” And all the Levites gathered around him” (Ex 32:26).
He then instructed them to bring justice and that they did. They put to death 3000 killing the rebels.
“Afterword Moses said, “Today you have been dedicated to the LORD, since each man went against his son and his brother. Therefore you have brought a blessing on yourselves today” (Ex 32:29).
The Lord had chosen them out of all the tribes to serve him in the temple. And they too needed dedicating.
First the Levites shaved their entire bodies. (Ok, so I did think to myself, “Did they shave…everything?”). Then they washed their entire bodies. Then they all gathered together and the entire Israelite community around them. Then the Israelite people laid their hands on the Levites. Then the Levites laid their hands on the bulls that were to be offered as burnt offerings. Then the Israelites were brought before the Lord as a presentation offering. After that they were now free to service.
So there it is. The census was taken, the people were organized, the offerings, rituals and vow instructions were taught, and now the tabernacle was fully dedicated. Including it’s workers–the Levites. Now they would implement what the Lord commanded and receive a few more instructions.
Why are these things in the Bible?
First, dedications matter. It’s where we commit something to the Lord. Our lives. Children. Ministries. It’s important that we consecrate ourselves to teh Lord.
Secondly these things were given to the Israelites so that they would know how to worship Yahweh. They were to know how to come to Him clean and holy, and how to honor his glory and not treat it casually. Yahweh was so unlike the gods they were used to and the gods worshipping among the people around them that they needed clear instruction. They needed to know.
It’s actually not to much different than today. We are a people (globally) that have many wild and false things on the table. Many gods of the earth are worshipped, and the Lord wants us to KNOW how to love him. He has spelled that out in His Word.
Yet we are becoming a culture that is more and more Biblically illiterate, very much so in the church. A few years ago I did a survey of over 600 Christian workers (not just lay people) and asked them one question. How much of the Bible have you read?
The results were astonishing in a bad way.
As expected much of the older generation had read the Word, but with each successive generation it go to less and less. Those in their 20’s averaged 10% of the Bible. And these were Christian workers in ministry.
It’s no wonder that the culture is triumphing over the church. We don’t know even know how to worship God in holiness and righteousness (Lk 1:75) because we don’t know what he has to say about life and life matters.
People might say that there’s not enough time to engage in the Word but Tv and internet addictions show otherwise.
Dear ones, we must get back into the Word. Because the Lord has instructed us clearly how he wants to be worshiped.