"Of Levi, he said, Let Your Thummin, and Your Urim be
with Your holy one, whom You tested at Massah, and with whom You contended
with 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 observed Your word and kept Your covenant. They shall
teach Jacob Your judgments and Israel Your law--they shall put incense
before You, and whole burnt-sacrifice upon Your altar. Bless, Lord, his
substance, and accept the work of his hands--smite through the loins of
those who rise against him, and of those who hate him, that they rise not
again." Deut. 33:8-11.
Levi was peculiarly the Lord's. This tribe toiled not in
military service. Its happy hours revolved in holy duties. Its life
was round the altars. The tabernacle was its charge, and its employ looked
always unto God.
Thus it appears a ministerial type. We see in it
the pastor's portrait. It represents that heaven-born, heaven-sent band,
which stands apart to deal with man for God.
This is life's highest privilege--earth's grandest
dignity--honor, which angels do not share--glory, which drives all other
heroes into shade. The greatest minister is our greatest man. His words
achieve the noblest triumphs on the world's stage.
What then, will Moses' lips pour forth, when Levi's tribe
comes for its blessing? Reader, draw near to hear! Spirit of God, draw near
Choice servants are addressed--therefore, choice gifts
will be bestowed. Levi's outline is first drawn. Three bold characteristics
are displayed. These threefold marks are, holiness--acquaintedness with
1. The tribe is HOLY. "Let Your Thummin and Your Urim
be with Your holy one." Holiness! What is it, but the image of our
God--conformity to Christ--the stamp of heaven upon the soul. It is God
living in the heart--moving in each step--breathing in each breath--heard in
each word--pervading the whole man. It is the Spirit's presence, saying, let
there be light, and there is light--let there be love, and there is
love--cleaving sin's roots, and they decay--sowing pure seed, and it bears
fruit. It is an upward course--leaving the world behind--eschewing
evil--hating what Jesus hates--panting to be godlike. It is that lofty
state, which springs from reception of the Gospel. Truth sanctifies. Error
is darkness in mind and life. Christ seen--Christ loved--forms the new man.
So, too, it is happiness without alloy. The holy man alone is happy. All sin
is misery. Departure from it is the path of peace.
Servants of Christ, seek holiness. Let this crown sparkle
on your brow. From head to foot let this robe clothe you. Inhabit earth as
Zion's citizens. So will your life preach louder than your lips. So will
your walk have magnet-influence, attracting unto heaven. A holy shepherd
wins a holy flock.
2. Next, Levi had conflicted with TEMPTATION--"Whom
You tested at Massah, and with whom You contended with at the waters of
It was one of Israel's darkest days, when the camp
murmured, because water failed. We lack clear evidence, that Levi was not
tainted with this guilt. But from this mention, we take hope, that he stood
firm, when others fell. But whether he resisted or gave way, the temptation
put him to the test. Massah proved him. Meribah sifted his principles.
All Adam's sons live tempted lives. Satan is not yet
chained. There is no place--no heart--which he infest not. His wily crafts
exceed all power to count. And his wrath increases, as the time grows less.
But the Lord's ministers are his especial hate. Against them every dart is
hurled. For them all snares are laid. And why? Their fall brings many to the
dust. The sheep will wander, when the shepherd strays.
But still his weapons often wound himself. For frequently
temptation proves to be a purifying furnace, and a brightening file. The
tempted lose their dross, and gain more brilliant polish. So, too, it is
a school of discipline. Here ministers drink deeply of experience's cup.
They thus become expert to sympathize with others' woes--to open out the
adversary's arts--to point to strongholds of defense--to stay the slipping
feet, and to pour balm into the stricken soul. Thus trials give ability and
skill. Satan uses them; and the result is injury to himself.
3. Levi has, too, the praise of honest ZEAL--"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." These words again
remind of dreadful evil in the camp. Moses was absent in the mount. The
impatient people ask for gods to lead them on. A golden calf is made. They
worship it. The air echoes with festive noise. Moses in haste comes down,
and cries, "Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the
sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him." Ex. 32:26. They draw
their swords. They rush to vindicate the cause of God, They spare not friend
nor relative. No ties of kindred or of blood screen from due vengeance.
Where they find sin, there they deal death. God gave the zeal, and braced
their nerves, and smiled upon their deed, and thus applauds it.
You ministers, mark this. Your office calls you to
reprove--rebuke--condemn. Evil is evil, wherever it is seen. You must stand
flint-like before all the world. If relatives and friends transgress,
they must be boldly checked. You speak for God. You must be honest, fearing
no man's face.
Levi, thus portrayed in threefold character, then
receives a sixfold blessing.
1. A grand distinction first appears. "Let your
Thummin and your Urim be with your holy one." The message is distinct. Let
Levi ever stand a priest before his God. Let the breast-plate, with its
mysterious contents, ever gird him. These contents, though shrouded in some
mist, intimate perfection and light. At once we see the
foremost ornaments of ministerial life.
PERFECTION! Nothing inferior may be sought. The walk may
have no stain. The garments must be purely white. The keen observer may
detect no fault. Oh! what vigilance--what care--what prayer are needed!
Lapses in those who guide, produce extensive ruin. Lord, lead Your servants
in a perfect way! Be a protecting shield around! Adorn them beauteously with
LIGHT! Father of lights, be their light! May they forever
dwell beneath Your rays, and, as reflecting mirrors, scatter radiance
around! May they go forth, as champions clad in armor of light! Thus may
true Thummin and true Urim ever be the glory of those, who are ambassadors
2. Next, "They shall teach Jacob Your judgments
and Israel Your law." Here is the pastor's solemn dignity. He occupies a
pulpit-throne. Thence he announces the decrees of the eternal kingdom. The
flock sit round to hear God's judgments--to receive God's law.
Preacher, take heed. Your volume is heaven-inspired. Add
not--it is impiety. Detract not--it is sacrilege. It is not yours to frame a
system or devise a code. Your message is prepared. Your text-book is divine.
Read and proclaim. Let all your teaching flow in one clear stream--"Thus
says the Lord." The Gospel committed to your trust is God's glory--His
wisdom in the highest--the transcript of His mind--the mirror of His
love--the power, which drives out darkness, softens hearts, gives new birth
to dead souls, breaks Satan's chains, snatches from hell, uplifts to heaven,
converts bold rebels to devoted friends, and plants a paradise in the
world's waste. Then PREACH THIS WORD--only--clearly--fully. Be faithful. Be
distinct. Signs of salvation will then surely follow. The seed of truth is
never lost. It has an innate life. It is impregnate with divinity. Who can
destroy it? Truth long since would have died, if Satan or man's hate had
power to slay.
3. Honors are added. "They shall put incense
before You--and whole Burnt-sacrifice upon Your altar." They shall cause
sweet savor to ascend. The Gospel-savor is the sweet merits of Christ's
fragrant work. They shall pile victims on the altar. The Gospel has but one
victim--the God-man slain.
These words are as a trumpet-voice to warn each minister.
The pulpit stands his golden altar, from which precious fragrance should
never fail to rise. Sermons should all be redolent of Jesus's worth. Each
utterance should be, as curling incense, filling heaven and earth with joy.
The pulpit stands, too, his brazen altar, on which victims bleed. The
congregation should be led to sit around the cross. The dying Jesus should
be the one grand sight--giving Himself a willing offering, that guilt may
thus be cleansed, and sins obliterated, and debts paid, and curse removed,
and God appeased, and hell's gates closed, and heaven's throne won.
4. It follows--"Bless, Lord, His substance." Levi had no
allotted lands. "I am your portion, and your inheritance," said God. Numb.
18:20. The tabernacle-offerings are their supply. A special maintenance is
their lot. Special servants are specially sustained.
They must be well fed, whom God thus supplies. Let then
no faithful pastor fear. He may not have--he covets not--abundance of
earth's pelf. But the barrel will not fail. The cruise will still suffice.
In God he has incalculable wealth. "The Lord is the portion of my
inheritance and of my cup--you maintain my lot." Paul testifies, "I have
all, and abound--I am full." Phil. 4:18.
5. It is encouragingly added--"Accept the work of his
hands." Smile, Lord, when Levi thus draws near. Turn not from the prayer,
the service, and the praise, which he presents upon Your altar.
Here is the joy, the hope, the strength, the victory of
the faithful servant. He knows, that truth proclaimed by life and lip--in
public and in private--cannot but prosper. The Gospel-sickle reaps not in
vain. Harvests of saved souls will be brought in. Heaven's garner will be
filled. He will present before God's throne children begotten by his
words--jewels drawn by his efforts from nature's quarry, and polished as
pillars for the palace of the King. The labor is not in vain. The Lord
6. Lastly--"Smite through the loins of those who rise
against him, and of those who hate him, that they rise not again." A
Korah--a Dathan--an Abiram rose to assail. But their defeat was signal. They
died not the common death of men. The gaping earth devoured them. Numb.
So faithful ministers must always expect the
adversary's rage. They foil him most. Therefore he most desires their
ruin. As against Christ--so against them--he marshals his whole force. But
while he mightily assails, Omnipotence protects. While his many legions
harass, an infinity of love defends. Thus they hold on. Thus they hold out.
Thus they will ever bloom, like Aaron's rod, until the last saint is
gathered in. Their teaching voice will sound on earth, until the hallelujah
is full-toned above. They go on conquering, for Jesus fights beside them.
You ministers, turn not from Levi, without many a solemn
thought. There is no work like yours--so holy--so exalted--so
godlike! There is no help like yours. Jesus, who sends you, goes
forth by your side. There are no hopes like yours. The brightest
crown is that, which sparkles with redeemed gems. Bless God--take
courage--work. Uplift the cross with prayerful hands. Preach the true
Christ. Live the true life of faith. Then Levi's full inheritance will raise
you high. How high, God only knows! Christ's fellow-workers will not be low
among Christ's fellow-heirs.