One of the reasons that God separated the Levites from all else on this earth and made them His own: it has to do with the principle that all firstborns automatically belong to Him.
God had set down a principle in Exodus that the lives of the firstborn of everything were His. When He took the lives of all those people AND livestock in Egypt He killed ONLY the firstborn; He was simply taking what was already His, the firstborn.
But now with the taking of the Levites away from their biological father Jacob, the Lord is substituting the Levites as a ransom for all the firstborn of all the other tribes of Israel. Instead of God owning the lives of all the firstborn of Israel, He has exchanged them for the Levites.
Let me finish out that thought with another parallel between the Levites and Believers. The Levites were to protect God’s holiness from encroachers. Because if an unauthorized person (someone God deemed as unfit) encroached on God’s holiness, the entire community would feel His wrath.
And who were deemed as the unfit? All whom did God not deem as holy.
The Levites in protecting God’s holiness at the same time protected the common people of Israel from God’s wrath by keeping those who were not sufficiently holy away from Him. If the non-holy were able to get near God’s holiness, His wrath would fall upon the entire community in divine retribution.
Likewise one of the purposes of Believers is to delay God’s wrath upon the unholy, the world. The day will come when all Believers will be whisked away from this earth in an event Evangelicals call the Rapture, and THEN God’s wrath will pour out upon this planet.
It is a major part of YOUR purpose as a walking, talking, living, breathing tabernacle of God to protect this world from God’s wrath by protecting God’s holiness from uncleanness and un-holiness of the world.
As long as we’re here He’s here. When we’re gone He’s gone. Now if that responsibility doesn’t make your knees quake and your mouth go dry, then you either don’t believe me or you don’t get it.
All that stood between the total annihilation of Israel and God was the Levites. All that stands today between the total annihilation of the world and God, is YOU.
I don’t want to leave this too quickly. Let me explain something to you: the Levites weren’t like pacifist monks who would plead with an encroacher to stay back and then if the encroacher paid no heed the Levites would behave as Gandhi or silent sacrificial lambs.
The Levites were armed and dangerous; they immediately killed anyone who encroached too near the holy grounds. This was not about justice as we think of it. Sympathy was irrelevant. Simple error brought death as quickly as stubborn determination and malicious intent.
Remember in Genesis the word picture of the Cherubim with the flaming sword that guarded the path to the Garden of Eden?
Remember, that those Cherubim immediately destroyed any unauthorized person foolish enough to venture too close?
The Levites were to behave as those Cherubim behaved. The Levites didn’t ask permission to kill the trespasser, they were expected to do it without hesitation; they didn’t arrest an encroacher and take them to a priest for a hearing, the Levite was obligated to kill that person on the spot or lose their own life for not doing so.
God’s holiness is that serious of a matter. God indeed places high value on human life; but He also places the ULTIMATE value on His own holiness. And the Scriptures make it clear that He would sacrifice ALL human life to maintain His holiness.
As Believers we need to do our job, just as the Levites did theirs; and it was for the benefit of both worshipper and the pagan. But this job can’t be done while sitting on the sidelines.
Now obviously we’re not in the business of killing unholy people. But as guardians of God’s holiness we are to be active and watchful and strike at the true enemy, Satan, whenever He comes near. And we do this by standing on God’s Word and by following Him no matter the cost. This must never be a frivolous or rash action on our part, nor something we act upon without much prayer and council.