Why the Levites were not Numbered


By Dr. Ken Matto


Only thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the children of Israel: (Numbers 1:49)


But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them. (Numbers 1:47)


In the first chapter of Numbers the Lord commands Moses to take a sum or a census of all the tribes of the children of Israel.  There was one group that was not to be counted and that was the Levites.  Did you ever wonder why the Levites were not to be counted?  Many times in the Old Testament we can discover great foreshadows of the body of believers which are those who are born again in Christ. 


When Joshua went into the Promised Land and began to dole out the sections of Canaan, the tribe of Levi or the Levitical Priests were not given a specific section of the land.  Instead they were given Levitical cities which were located within the borders of the individual tribes.  And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs. (Joshua 21:3) 


So then why were the Levites not given any specific portions of land?  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. (Numbers 18:20)  The Levites were to be dedicated to the work of the LORD in the temple and in the tabernacle services.  It is like the believer, we really do not have any inheritance in this earth but we have an inheritance in the new Heaven and new Earth.  For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Hebrews 13:14)  All the needs of the Levites would be taken care of by the individual tribes. Some of the cities which the Levites received were the Cities of Refuge plus other cities scattered throughout Canaan.


If you notice in Numbers 18:20, it states to Aaron “Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land.”  Notice the wording that states “their land.”  That is very important because what we are seeing is a great separation between the saved who are the inheritance of God and those who are unsaved who are tied only to this earth.   The Levites were not counted because they represented the entire body of believers in the world and at that time, the body of believers was not complete, just as it is incomplete at this moment until the last one which God the Father gives to God the Son and then the body of believers will be completed.  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37) 


With the Levites representing the body of believers, they could not be counted because no human knows the full number of those who will become saved.  We find this in the promise that God made to Abraham.


17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:17-18)


Notice there are two criteria for counting the number of true believers.  The number of the stars of Heaven and the sand upon the sea shore.  Is it possible for any human to number the stars of Heaven or the amount of individual bits of sand on all the sea shores in the world?  That would be an absolute impossibility for any human to do.  Even if you took a bucket of sand from the beach and tried to count it you would be off because some would stick to the bucket meaning your count would be in error. 


In Exodus 29:9, God states the Aaronic priesthood would continue as a perpetual institution.  And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons. (Exodus 29:9) The word “perpetual” in the Hebrew is “ôwlâm” which means “eternal or everlasting.”    So then how could the Aaronic priesthood be perpetual when the Mosaic system was destroyed by God in 70 A.D., never to be reinstituted again except by those who choose to disobey and rebel against God?


7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7-8)


About 600 years before the Aaronic priesthood was formed, God made a covenant with Abraham which was going to be an everlasting covenant.  The word “everlasting” in both of those verses is the same word we saw used in Genesis 29:9, “ôwlâm” which means everlasting.  Therefore even before the Aaronic priesthood was formed, there was going to be an everlasting covenant between God and certain people.  And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)  The covenant then was between those who were the seed of Abraham and God.  Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7)  Those who are of faith are the children of Abraham which is the body of believers in Christ which is an everlasting position.  So now we know that the seed of Abraham is part of the covenant God made with him, so then how does the body of believers connect with the Aaronic priesthood?


Not only did God grant salvation to the people he named before the foundation of the world but within that salvation he made the entire body of believers as priests.

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:6)


And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)


But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)


As you can see the body of believers was also made “a royal priesthood” which when combined with the understanding of Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 where the body of believers are also kings, we gain the understanding of 1 Peter 2:9 where we are not just considered priests but because of our kingship we are “royal priests.”  That is how the Aaronic priesthood was fulfilled in perpetuity.  No longer was there a special class of men who were Levites but after Christ went to the cross, every true believer has become a royal priest and that is for eternity.  That is why the Levites were not given a parcel of land on earth nor were they to be numbered with the other tribes because their existence foreshadowed the everlasting body of Christ.