Day 54: The Tribe of Levi

Numbers 3:1-51 Specific details about the position and responsibilities of the various Levite families were described here and a census was taken, and then God explained that the Levites were a ransom for all the firstborn of Israel who were spared from death in the tenth plague. By their consecration to the service of God, the Levites, in effect, redeemed the thousands of firstborn Israelites. Even the cattle of the Levites stood in as ransom for the firstborn cattle that were spared death (CCC 1539-1541)


Psalm 87 This hymn praises Jerusalem as if it were the mother of all peoples, pointing to a future hope that all people would one day be united in one faith. Zion is the city of God; therefore, it belongs to EVERYONE. The Lord noted the names of those from all corners of earth, INCLUDING NATIONS HOSTILE TO ISRAEL.


“In Jerusalem, all people must discover their spiritual roots, feel they are in their homeland, meet again as members of the same family and embrace one another as brothers and sisters who have come back home” (St. John Paul II, General Audience, November 13, 2002)


In Christian tradition, this psalm takes on another dimension: since Jerusalem was the dwelling place of the Lord, it was also likened to a mother of the Jewish people. Thus, MARY is called the LIVING ZION in whom Christ was conceived. The Incarnation would lead to a rebirth of God’s people as his adopted children. Mary thus takes on the role of MOTHER OF THE CHURCH and MOTHER OF ALL PEOPLE. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audience, November 13, 2002)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)



  • In Numbers Chapter 3 we have the Tribe of Levi

  • The Tribe of Levi was SET APART

  • When the Tribe of Levi rose up against the idolaters who worshipped the golden calf, they had ORDAINED THEMSELVES

  • While all of the tribe of Levi was set apart for service in the Temple, NOT EVERYONE in the Tribe of Levi was a priest

  • ALL PRIESTS HAVE TO BE LEVITES, BUT NOT ALL LEVITES ARE PRIESTS

  • Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that if you serve in the Tabernacle, if you are a Levite, then you are therefore a priest

  • That is not exactly the case

  • Here in Numbers 3, it spells out that there were a NUMBER OF THE TRIBE OF LEVI who were set to particular tasks

  • The sons of Levi: Gershon, Ko’hath, and Merar’i were all given different tasks

  • The family of Gershon is on the WEST SIDE of the Tabernacle and are given charge over the screen and the Tent of Meeting and its covering

  • The family of Ko’hath are on the SOUTH SIDE of the Tabernacle and are given a number of tasks that have to do with the Ark of the Covenant and the Table and the lamp stand

  • The family of Merar’i are on the NORTH SIDE of the Tabernacle and are given tasks for the frames of the Tabernacle, the bars, the pillars, the bases, and their accessories

  • What we realize is that ALL LEVITES are there for the service of the Temple, but NOT ALL are serving in the same particular way

  • It is noted by God that only the Levites are those allowed to perform this Temple service

  • Among that Tribe of Levi are the SONS OF AARON and those are the ones who are the priests who are working in the service of OFFERING UP WORSHIP, performing the RITES AND DUTIES in the Tabernacle

  • The other duties that have to do with maintenance are performed by the other families in the Tribe of Levi

  • This is often missed little piece that we as modern Christians can sometimes not understand or realize

  • Deuteronomy Chapter 3 shows that the Tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manas’seh are given lands in what they called the “Transjordan”

  • This is before the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River and enter The Promised Land

  • Transjordan is where these tribes dwelt

  • God says, through Moses, that this was their land but they needed to still continue with the rest of the Israelites over the Jordan River because they still had battles to fight

  • They still needed to obtain The Promised Land

  • They were still needed and after they took The Promised Land, they could return to Transjordan

  • There is this element of a gift, a current promise about a future reality

  • These three tribes had to continue to fight and serve with their brothers and sisters in the other Tribes of Israel

  • There is something powerful about that

  • They had their land, but they weren’t done yet

  • That is something that weighs on our own hearts often

  • “I want to be done”

  • “I want to be able to put my stake in the ground and say, this is home, these are my roots, I’m done”

  • For Reuben, Gad, and Manas’seh, they were home, but they couldn’t be there just yet

  • Speaking of which, Moses begged God to let him go over to see The Promised Land

  • We find out later in Numbers that Moses did not listen to God and struck a rock twice to draw out water instead of speaking to the rock to pour out water like God told him to do

  • Moses was the leader and was therefore held to a higher standard

  • Because of this rash act, he was not able to cross over the Jordan into The Promised Land

  • This is difficult teaching for us

  • Moses was very faithful FOR A LONG LONG TIME

  • And yet, even in the midst of that, there are CONSEQUENCES TO HIS ACTIONS

  • He was not displeasing to the Lord

  • God loves Moses

  • Moses was a faithful man

  • But there are consequences to our actions

  • Moses pleaded with God again to let him go to The Promised Land

  • God basically says, “Speak no more to me of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah, and look and behold The Promised Land. But, you are going to die here.”

  • That seems pretty harsh, doesn’t it?

  • But it is true, isn’t it?

  • The leaders among us must be held to a higher standard

  • Not a standard of PERFECTION

  • But a higher standard, nonetheless

  • We all need to recognize that we need God’s help because if you have a family, you are held to a higher standard

  • If you are a mom or dad, you are held to a higher standard

  • If you are a teacher, you are held to a higher standard

  • James 3:1 says “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.”

  • All of us in some ways are responsible for others

  • Moses, in his responsibility, failed in that task

  • Nonetheless, he was still loved by the Lord

  • It just meant that he couldn’t enter The Promised Land

  • Sometimes, the answer to our prayer is NO

  • Today, the answer to Moses’ prayer was NO

  • And yet, God is faithful

  • God still loved Moses

  • God still loves you

  • Fr Mike is praying for you

  • As we continue our journey, we are going step by step just like the children of Israel

  • Through the wilderness

  • We can only do this if we pray for each other


Prayer by Fr Mike: “Father in Heaven, we give you praise and we thank you. Even in the midst of the depths, even in the midst of darkness you are faithful. And we can trust in you. Amen, Amen. We make this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen. Amen.”