The tribe of Levi, thousands in number, were set apart by God specifically for full time service in the temple. In terms of practicality and efficiency for the whole nation of Israel, this does not make sense. That’s about 8%~9% of “unproductive” population, who are themselves consumers, and add to that, are key people in the sacrifice of animals and produce. Hahaha! I just love it how God’s ways are so strange compared to man’s understanding. In spite of this, or I believe, it is because of this “setup” the nation of Israel was blessed. It shows trust and dependence on God’s goodness. And it allows God to prove it that yes, He is good!
Each group/family in the tribe had their specific assignment. To me it looks similar to how the Church has different parts and how the Holy Spirit gives us different gifts in order to fulfill our part.
One particular assignment that struck me was “guarding” the temple. I understand that the temple is central to the life of the Israelites, and that it also contains some monetarily valuable items. It should be guarded from theives, robbers, desecrators, etc. But what do we know about the temple so far? That with one wrong move, even those who are ministering are struck dead in an instant. So maybe they are not really guarding the temple from people (God, of course, is more than capable of defending himself), but are guarding (protecting) people from the temple. Which is an analogy of what Jesus eventually did for us. Jesus made sure that we, as imperfect beings, will be acceptable to the Holy God. That we are able to enter His presence and not face fire.
It’s amazing how the Bible pieces together like that.