But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Though all Israel is liable to the whole Torah, not all of the Torah is incumbent upon each individual of Israel. Some rulings are solely incumbent on High-Priests, others on priests, some on Levites, Nazarites or firstborns. Some statutes solely concern men, others women or children; some also pertain singly to the stranger in the Land.
The children of Moses’ brother Aaron are called Levites. They are called so because they are the descendant of the tribe of Levi, the son of Jacob. When God divided the tribes of the new born Jewish nation into the land of Canaan, God said that the Levites that they will have no land inheritance in Canaan, but that He was their inheritance (Leviticus 18:20-24). In this manner the tribe of Levi obtained the spiritual oversight and responsibility of Israel. Not all Levites automatically became priests, but all priests were to be Levites.
Studying the lifestyle incumbent upon the Levite priests, it is easy to see that they were to live in a standard of purity and dedication higher than that of the rest of Israel. This standard was surpassed only by that of the High-Priest himself.
Some of the particularities of the Levite priest are that he was to not own land nor busy himself with the affairs of the world. His primary job was that of a Torah teacher to the people. Wealthy folks often had their own Levite living among them teaching them and mostly their children. Most of the time though, the Levite taught in a village and people supported him with tithes and/or offerings in exchange for his services. He was the travelling living Word to the people.
In His definition of the higher calling of discipleship, the Master drew from the Levitical priestly standards. He told the twelve with him that their dedication to Him was to be greater than that to their own families (Matthew 10:37), that they were in the world but not of the world (John 15:19), that they were to let go of material pursuits (Luke 12:16-35; Matthew 8:19-20) and spend their lives in the studying teaching of the Word and in prayer (Matthew 28:19-20). Yeshua did not ask for all to do that, but He left it there as an option. It seems that Peter understood the connection between a disciple of Yeshua and the Levitical priesthood when he referred to the people of the Roman congregation as a ‘royal priesthood’ (1 Peter 2:9).
Many of us want to define ourselves as disciples of the Master. May we realize that this is not a title to be taken lightly. It is incumbent on whoever takes it to live like the Master did and obey His Words. A higher standard of purity is also required of us, and if we don’t fall under it, we better not call ourselves disciples at all unless a greater condemnation falls upon us (James 3:1).