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thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him, neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant. They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Is. rael thy law; they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar. Bless, Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again,” Deut. xxxiii. 8–11.
Levi had been a partaker with Simeon, in shedding the blood of the Shechemites, and had fallen under the same condemnation; but their spirit and zeal in expiating the guilt of the golden calf by the blood of its idolatrous worshippers, has removed the stain, and restored their own blood again, and the dreadful sentence, “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel,” as far as it affects them, is from a curse turned into a blessing. They are divided in Jacob, and scattered in Israel, but it is honourably to them. selves and usefully to others: as the priests of the Lord, and the instructors of the people. Why may we not suppose Eleazar the high-priest
, arrayed in his sacerdotal vestments, standing at the head of his tribe to receive the salutation of Moses, and that the appearance of this sacred officer in the splendour of his pontifical garb, might suggest to Moses some of the particulars contained in this blessing, especially the beginning of it?
“ Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one.” “'Thy Thummim and thy Urim,” that is being interpreted, “thy perfections and thy lights.” They were mysteries, of which we have spoken in a former Lecture, put into the high-priest's breast-plate, and were designed apparently to signify the
graces and office of the priesthood, which was comVOL. III.
mitted to Aaron and his seed, till Christ came, who should obtain and exercise an everlasting and unchangeable priesthood, after a more excellent order than that of Aaron.
According to the different ideas of the mystery of the Urim and Thummim, and the connexion here established between them and the temptation at Massah and the strife at Meribah, various turns and interpretations have been given to the words of Moses.
1. They are supposed to be addressed to God himself, and the sense to run thus, “ Thy Thummim and thy Urim” (O God) be with the man, thy gracious saint, (Aaron and his seed) whom thou temptedst with temptation, or contendedst with (for his sin) at the waters of Meribah, of which we have the history, Numb. xx.
“ And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel; therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them,” Numb. xx. 12, 13.
Or, 2dly, they may be addressed to the whole tribe, and with this sense, Thy Thummim and thy Urim O Levi) be with Aaron and his sons! the holy, chosen, anointed one of thy gracious God, whom thou, in common with the rest of Israel, temptedst in Massah and in the strife at Mcribah.
Or, 3dly, understanding by the “ holy one,” the Christ of God, this will be the sense, Thy Thummim and thy Urim (O Levi) is with (or belongs to) the man thy Holy One, (Messiah, the Christ) the Holy One of God, whom thou temptedst at Massah, and didst strive with *at Meribah. In this last interpretation, the weakness, insufficiency, imperfection and transitoriness of the Levitical priesthood are implied: it retained not long the Urim and Thummim, but lost them in the Babylonish captivity, as we find from
Ezra, chap. ii. ver. 63, “And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim." And it does not appear they ever had them more, until by Jesus Christ, our High-Priest after the order of Aaron, they were restored in the "light and truth” of the gospel.
The blessing upon Levi thus proceeds; “ Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him, neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant,” Deut. xxxiii. 9. This is generally understood to express the devotedness of that tribe to the worship and service of God, which laid them under a necessity of abstractedness from the world, and constrained them, when employed in the order of their course, to suppress all appearance of secular concern, such as mourning for the dead, and the like. Thus when “ Nadab and Abihu perished by fire before the Lord,” Aaron and his two surviving sons were expressly forbid to show any signs of sorrow. “ Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes, lest ye die.” “ And Aaron held his peace.” The words are by many interpreters supposed particularly to refer to the judgment executed through the zeal of this tribe on their offending brethren in the matter of the golden calf, which is thus described: “And Mo. ses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, who is oni the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to-day to
the Lord, even every man upon
bis brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day,” Exod. xxxii. 26—29. And it may perhaps be intended as a warning to the christian priethood, that though their profession does call them wholly to renounce the world, to restrain the workings of natural affection, and cease to be men; yet it does call them to a higher degree of heavenly-mindedness, to stricter self-government, to a greater superiority to worldly attachments and pursuits, to have no respect of persons in dispensing the bread of life, to “know no man after the flesh,” to sit looser than others to the things of time.
The next article of their prophet's parting blessing describes their glorious privileges. They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law; they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.” The priest's lips should keep knowledge.
This then is the first duty of thy office; to “teach Jacob the judgments of God, and Israel his law." Theirs was to be the distinguished honour of training up every succeeding generation as it arose, in the knowledge of the God of their fathers, in what he had done for them, and what he required of then; of pointing out and inculcating upon them the connexion between their privileges and their duties, their safety and their obedience, their security and their fidelity. They were still to set before the people “ good and evil, the blessing and the curse,” the promises which allured to the one, the threatenings which deterred from the other. They were under the necessity, of consequence, of studying the law of God, and the history of his providence themselves, in order to the instruction of others; and to exhibit a decent conformity, in their own deportment, to what was written, as a pattern to their fellow-citizens. A task at once painful, dangerous and honourable.
The second duty of their station was, “to put incense before God.” That sacred perfunie was emble
matical of the prayers, the praises and thanksgiving of Israel; and on Levi was conferred the glorious privilege of standing between God and the people, of conveying from him to them the dictates of his will, the promises of his grace, the assurance of his favour and protection; and, as the mouth of the people, to re-convey to God, the effusions of their gratitude, the acknowledgment of their submission and dependence; their entire confidence in the truth and faithfulness of God, their entire hope in his mercy. These the sons of Levi were to present before the Lord as incense; and with this sacrifice of praise from the people, the incense of their own grateful acknowledgments would naturally mingle and ascend.
Finally, the blessing pronounced on this distinguished tribe, imposed on them the office of offering up " whole burnt sacrifice upon the altar of God.” They not only stood between a gracious God and an indebted people; but a holy and offended God, and a frail, offending people. Hence the necessity of “burnt sacrifice," hence the idea of atonement, hence the shed. ding of blood for the remission of sin, hence the institution of the Levitical priesthood—the shadow of good things to come.”
And thus the daily sacrifice, the intercession of the house of Aaron, and the united characters of teacher and priest in the same person, prefigured and pointed out “the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world”_" The one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” The great Teacher sent from God, who spake as never man spake.” “ God's beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased.”
The conclusion of the benediction is prophetic, and descriptive of their reward, their inheritance, and security. “Bless, Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again,” Deut. xxxiii. 11. This is the