Monday, November 5, 2007

Substitute for a Sacrifice

I found this really interesting passage this morning that got me thinking. The passage is Numbers 3:5-7, 11-13.

"Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, so that they may assist him. They shall perform duties for him and for the whole congregation in front of the tent of meeting, doing service at the tabernacle ... Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: I hereby accept the Levites from among the Israelites as substitutes for all the firstborn that open the womb among the Israelites. The Levites shall be mine, for all the firstborn are mine; when I killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both human and animal; they shall be mine. I am the LORD."

What I am thinking: The tribe of Levi was set aside to be the priestly tribe. God also identifies them as a "substitute". For what? Rather than sacrificing the firstborn living creature, human and animal alike, God substituted the consecrated life of service of the priests. The priest was a substitute for sacrifice.

God desires service, not sacrifice. How often do I say, "Look what I have done for you, God", and how often do I say, "Look at what I have given up for you God." Is there a difference in the attitude that comes with each of these statements?

All this has gotten me thinking about my identity as a pastor. What am I a substitute for? Do I give my life in service to God and His people in order that others may know life and know it more abundantly?

Just a few questions rolling around my head today.

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