25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.
27 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.'” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.” Exodus 32:25-29
It’s interesting that out of all 12 tribes the Levites rallied to Moses when he called. Then they went through the people killing the people who probably led the rebellion, while the others slinked away. d Moses set the Levites apart because of their actions.
Were the Levites even involved in the revelry of the rest of the camp? It appears they weren’t. As keepers of the tabernacle, they were already set apart for the Lord’s work. By their actions and devotion, though, Moses asked God’s blessing on them.
In our minds, we see what the Levites did as barbaric and ruthless. We only have modern day society as a reference point. They were under a different justice system.
Those who were slaughtered were wicked people. Recall that only a few verses ago, the Lord was getting ready to slay the entire nation, so the vast majority of people (at least 97%) were spared.
Those deaths sent a very clear message through the camp: if you continue in your rebellion, you will see swift justice.
Swift justice is something we don’t see in our world. Not only that, but we see a great deal of injustices every day because of a broken system. We only see justice through our own eyes and not through perfect lenses.
There are injustices all around us if we care to look. Often, though, it’s too difficult to look because it might compel us to do something about it.
I’m not talking about being cut off in traffic type of injustice, but real heart-wrenching injustices: women and children being sex trafficked, slavery, child labor, and religious persecution to name a few. These compel us to dig in and fight them, but it takes work, time, and money.
In the end, though, they are worth the fight, because if we’re not fighting these horrific and unfair predicaments, who is?