When you hear the phrase, “You’ve been set apart,” the first tendency is to take it negatively. You want to be included with everyone else and don’t want to be made different. Your nature is to fit in and conform with others. It can feel like you are being neglected, or put on the side line, when you aren’t a part of what everyone else is doing. But, is this how God feels about you being set apart?
Let’s look at what it means to be set apart in the New Testament when the Apostle Paul shared how we are to live and then let’s look at the Old Testament about what it meant to be set a part as a priest:
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2: 9-12
What does it mean to be a chosen race and royal priesthood? We can see from 1 Peter, that we are to stay away from evil, be instead honorable and do good deeds, but we need to turn back many books to the Old Testament book of Numbers to fully examine the priesthood of the Levites and how God set them a part as His special possession. This will give us a little more incite into the significance of the Levites who were one of the 12 tribes of Israel that were set aside for God. If we can see how God set them aside, we can see how He feels about us as a priesthood today:
“5 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 6 “Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them… 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. …14 “Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine. 15 And after that the Levites shall go in to serve at the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and offered them as a wave offering. 16 For they are wholly given to me from among the people of Israel. Instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself. 17 For all the firstborn among the people of Israel are mine, both of man and of beast. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated them for myself, 18 and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel. 19 And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel, to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement for the people of Israel, that there may be no plague among the people of Israel when the people of Israel come near the sanctuary.” …21 And the Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and Aaron offered them as a wave offering before the Lord, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. 22 And after that the Levites went in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the Lord had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.” Numbers 8:5-22
God had required the first born of each family to be set aside for service to Himself, but later in Numbers 8, we see that God changed His plan and now set aside an entire group of people, the Levites, for Himself. This group of Levites, from which all of the priests of Israel come, would be dedicated to His holy service for the duration of their lives from generation to generation. They were no longer owned by themselves, but were now owned by God for His special service.
“14 “Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine. ” Numbers 8:14
God has given us a picture of the Levites to show us what He asks from those of us who have been bought with the price of Jesus’ blood. What He requires is our entire life. He doesn’t ask for a silver of it, or even just half of it, but instead, He asks for our entire lives to be a living sacrifice to Him, doing His will whenever He chooses. Have you been bought with the blood of Christ? If so, you are a Levitical priest, set a part for God’s work. Have you been listening to what He has asked you to do?
- “19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- “23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. ” 1 Corinthians 7:23
- “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11
- “12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12
- “4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,” 1 Thessalonians 1:4
Lord, living up to the priesthood of the Levites seems impossible to us today, but You have called us to be set a part in dedication to Yourself as priests. Thank you, Lord, for buying us and redeeming us from our sin. Help us to listen to Your call and stand out to serve You as often as You ask. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.