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Numbers Chapter 8 (ESV)
5 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 6 “Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them. 7 Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of purification upon them, and let them go with a razor over all their body, and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves. 8 Then let them take a bull from the herd and its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, and you shall take another bull from the herd for a sin offering. 9 And you shall bring the Levites before the tent of meeting and assemble the whole congregation of the people of Israel. 10 When you bring the Levites before the Lord, the people of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites, 11 and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that they may do the service of the Lord.
- This chapter talks about priests’ work and their sanctification for the work. They were to attend to the Tent of Meeting, where the rituals and ceremonies of the faith were enacted. The closest we have to Levites today is the pastoral staff. How are pastors today to go about their assigned tasks?
- Their office assigns them certain pastoral responsibilities, such as preaching the Scriptures, serving communion, shepherding the flock, and so on. And their church assigns them certain ceremonial responsibilities, such as weddings, funerals, and baptisms. How are they to exercise those responsibilities without them becoming routine and burdensome, as they sometimes were for the priests and Levites later in Israel’s history?
- The real work of pastors on every occasion, whether preaching the Word or performing weddings, requires the priestly service of prayer. Their vocation is to be responsive to what God is saying at those ceremonial moments in the life of the community of faith. The ceremonies are over in an hour or so, but the prayers continue. This is the real work – holding weddings and baptisms and funerals before God in the continual presence of prayer. That way the holy is never profaned, never common, and never routine. That’s how these pastoral functions become sacraments, true sacraments in the purest sense of the word, where holy things are handled with human hands, and in the process, the hands themselves are made more holy.
Pray for the pastors at church. Consider all the possible pressure, temptations, and burdens they may face. Ask God to bless them that they may minister in all capacities with unceasing prayer.