Our reading begins today with the offerings by every tribe at the Tabernacle. We see in the offering of an ox for every chief (7:3) that idea of representation. The chiefs represent their tribe before God, so this is an offering accepted for all the people. This is like Christ’s representation of all who believe, and His acceptable offering for us. Notice that the oxen are given to the sons of Levi “according to their service.” However, the sons of Kohath did not receive any. Why? Because they were in charge of the holy things (v. 9). These were those things that represented God’s presence. Serving God is it’s own reward.
We see that same representation in the daily offering from each tribe. We see with the introduction of each chief that physical lineage is still considered very important. Starting with Judah (already becoming pre-eminent among the tribes), every chief offers the same exact offering for their tribe. We read of the same exact things offered twelve times. Why? Because God cares very much about each and every offering by each and every one of His people. He never “glosses over” what we offer to Him.
The chapter ends with Moses speaking to YHWH. Note that he heard the voice from where God said His presence would dwell, but implied is that the veil stands between Moses and God. Now that the Tabernacle has been set up and consecrated, and now that the people have been accepted before the Lord, Israel has begun, as it were, to live under the covenant God made with them. Under this covenant, God is present, yet hidden. He is with them, but still separate. This points them and us forward to the culmination of His promise to walk among them/us (Lev 26:12). This is what He did in the incarnation.
Chapter 8 begins with the lighting of the lamps (note that “seven” again). This is another indication that life under the covenant had officially begun for Israel. Once lit, they were to remain lit from evening to morning perpetually (see Ex. 27:20-21). This meant that during the day, the sun gave light, and at night, the lamps. The lamps, which are right before the veil, are a constant reminder that God is light (1 John 1:5), but even more, they are a pointer forward to God’s perpetual presence with His people in the consummated kingdom (Rev 21:23).
Verses 5-7 show once again the need for those in God’s presence to be washed or purified. The offering for sin (v. 8) reinforces this idea. Note that those called to God’s service as a vocation are publicly ordained (vv. 9-14). God reiterates that the Levites are His in place of the firstborn of all Israel (vv. 15-19). The chapter ends with the instruction that the men of the tribe of Levi will each serve in the Tabernacle for 25 years (vv. 24-25), and then their service will be eased, though their ministry continues (v. 26).
Chapter 9 begins with the celebration of the Passover. We are now two years after the Passover in Egypt (9:1). Verses 6-12 show us that the unclean are invited to eat of the Passover, pointing us to the true Passover Lamb and His ministry to the sinful (Mark 2:17). In fact, we see that anyone failing to eat of the Passover is the one who will bear his sin (v. 13).
The chapter closes with the guarantee of God’s presence among His people, and our calling to always follow when and where He leads. Where He goes, we go. Where He stays, we stay. Whether “camping” or “moving” in our lives, we remain obedient to God.