The Levites were stewards of the things of God. From time to time, they moved the tabernacle and its contents – a holy and heavy burden. But the most pressing and constant job was that of “keeping guard.”
This was a matter of life and death. “But if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death.” The holiness of God was so pure and so severe that the unclean and unholy could not come near the tabernacle. To disregard the holiness of that place would be to put the entire congregation at risk (Leviticus 10:1-2).
In reality, it seems the Levites were guarding the people from the tabernacle – from the holiness of God – and not the other way around. “To protect the people of Israel,” God had told them. The people, too, were the things of God.
These holy guardians, we would hope, were revered. Without them, the people were in grave danger of transgressing God’s holiness.
Did you know you have this role today as a royal and holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9)? In a New Covenant kind of way, we must watch out for each other with all gentleness, and our church leaders have the sacred task of keeping watch over all of our souls (Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 13:17).
The stakes remain the same, even if instant physical death is not necessarily the punishment. The holiness of God cannot be transgressed by sinners. The blood of the Son of God was spilled so that we could draw near – and that blood is altogether holy (Hebrews 10:29).
Are we treating the things of God in this way? The holiness of the tabernacle has now been infused into the congregation of God. Are we sufficiently guarding the good deposit entrusted to us – that is, the Spirit-powered church (2 Timothy 1:14)?