WHY THE PRIESTS WORKED ON THE SABBATH AND WERE GUILTLESS
The priests of ancient Israel received tithes, but were blameless when they worked on the Sabbath. When Christians are told they must obey the Sabbath Commandment, they will sometimes object by referring to those priests, by saying:
"Since the priests were blameless, who received tithes and worked o n the Sabbath; then, I can work on the Sabbath to earn my living, too."
That is a serious deception that will lead to sin and eternal death. According to truth, we must make a distinction between Israel and the Tribe of Levi. (The priesthood.) The priest who worked in the temple on the Sabbath was blameless; but the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath was guilty. That is the judgment of God!
The Tribe of Levi was set apart to serve God. They replaced the firstborn of Israel who were saved on the night of Passover. The Levites were consecrated as living sacrifices who belonged wholly to God.*
THE TRIBE OF LEVI'S INHERITANCE.
"But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them." Josh 13:33
In the land of Canaan, the tribe of Levi was not given an allotment of land so their family group could live together. Instead, they lived in cities that were scattered throughout the land. Since the tribe of Levi did not receive an inheritance of land, like the other tribes, the tithe and sacrifices made by fire were their inheritance. Look!
The tithe was never intended to be wages; it was THEIR INHERITANCE.
"And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. **And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for AN INHERITANCE,** for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation." Num 18:20-21
GOD'S SERVANTS ARE NOT HIRELINGS
A person of that tribe received the provisions of his inheritance whether he worked on the Sabbath --or not. In fact, some never served in the temple.
"No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: ... He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy. Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them." Lev 21:21-23 (KJV)
Faithful priests considered it a privilege to serve The Lord. From the time of David, the priesthood was divided into 24 courses that alternated their times of service. Each course served twice a year. (No priest served more than two or three Sabbaths a year.) And, even within the courses, the priests would draw lots to determine who would serve that day.
An example of the custom of drawing lots is given to us in the gospel of Luke. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was of the course of Abia. On the day the angel appeared to him in the holy place, it was his lot to burn incense. Only once in a lifetime might any one enjoy that privilege! See Luke 1:5-11
CONCLUSION: The tribes of Israel had an inheritance of land, and the TITHE from that land already belonged to the tribe of Levi. The scriptures teach us that the tithes the priests received were not wages at all; they were their INHERITANCE from God!
**Christians can do good on the Sabbath --but they cannot received pay for the good that they do.**
"And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together: And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:
And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD ... And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the LORD. Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.
And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering. For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me. For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself. And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel." Numbers 8:9-18(KJV)
"Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the
cities round about them. And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts. And the
suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about." Num 35:2-4 (KJV)
"Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their INHERITANCE, as he said unto them." Josh 13:14
The 24 courses of Priests are listed in 1 Chronicles 24:1-19.
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman,
and went to make war with the remnant of her seed,
WHICH KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD,
AND HAVE THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST." Rev 12:17 (KJV)