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WHAT’S IN A NAME?

LEVI

“And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons; therefore was his name called, Levi” (Gen. 29:34).

Jacob had entered into a contractual agreement with Laben. He agreed to work for seven years and Laben agreed to give him Rachael, his daughter to be his wife. Jacob fulfilled his portion of the bargain but was cheated when he attempted to ‘redeem the purchased possession’. Laben gave him Leah instead of Rachael. This was a breach of contract. Laben had welshed on his part of the agreement and had altered the deal without following proper procedure. Had not Jacob the legal right to demand that which he contracted for? Jacob had every right to call for the ‘day’s man’ to review the particulars of the contract. Should he have not asked for an unbiased arbiter to render a ruling of judgment against Laben? Should he not demand his rights? He had been wronged and slighted. He had every legal right to demand his just reward. But instead of demanding his personal rights and returning the now tainted goods, which had been fraudulently thrust upon him, he kept her and took her to wife. He, only by the grace of God and according to His immutable will, esteemed it better to suffer the wrong inflicted upon him rather than take this to a court for justice against his father-in-law.

We say tainted because Jacob had gone in unto her, thinking her to be Rachael, and had discovered her nakedness. She was no more a virgin. She had no more proof of her purity therefore she would be unfit to be another’s wife. Her husband was not dead therefore she had no right to be another man’s wife. She could not go and be joined to another without being guilty of adultery. She could not return to her father’s house for that would be a reproach and blemish upon Laben and a disgrace to her people. Was this her fault? Even though it could be easily said that Laben had devised and perpetrated this heinous crime, Leah was not an innocent by-stander. She was a willing participant and is as guilty, if not more so, than her father. Even though through lies and deceit this situation had come to pass, all is according to the good pleasure of the Almighty God who works all things after the counsel of His own will.

“And Jacob said unto Laben; Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her” (29:21). Is there any question of his intent? He chose his wife, his bride, and he intended to consummate the station by going in unto her and joining unto her sexually. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife and the two shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). And even though he had not chosen Leah as his bride, upon the discovery of Laben’s treachery, Jacob agreed to keep Leah as his wife for he had already been joined unto her. She was now bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh and they were one. He was joined unto her, and God gave her conception.

“And she conceived again…” Jacob continued to fulfill his right as husband with his wife to go in unto her. First she conceived and bore him Reuben. He then went in unto her, being joined again unto her, she conceived and bare a son called Simeon. Now for at least a third time, they were physically joined and God gave her conception, again. The emphasis here is that he was joined unto her.

Genesis 2:14, does not speak to a woman leaving her fathers home and cleaving unto a man. The authority and right was that of the man to leave and to cleave. The wife was not seeking the husband. Jacob went out from his father’s house to seek a bride (Gen. 28:6 & 7). He went to the field, ‘Padan-aram’, to find his treasure, his bride. He had his work before him and his seed with him; “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (28:14). He had found his bride, and agreed to pay the price for her but received one whom he did not love. He kept her, cared for her, blessed her and her children even though he did not love her. She was part of his household. She ate at his table and lived under his protection all her days.

Once again there is a demonstration of the land of Shinar, the ‘country of two rivers’, which here is comprised of two people who represent the two covenants of God. The first covenant was with a natural people of the land and is seen in Leah. She is indeed first wed but not the first loved. Jacob chose Rachel before he was even introduced to Leah, just as the children of grace were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, well before the birth of Jacob’s sons and daughters and emergence of the nation of Israel. That which was first manifested was inferior to that which was truly first.

This covenant is a ministration of death contained in the handwriting of ordinances which could never make the doer thereof complete or Holy. It contained the carnal implements which were the shadow or pattern of the heavenly things. It has an earthly tabernacle surrounded by earthly curtains. It has the sacrifice of frail mortal animals upon an altar covered with blood and burning with fire. The stench of death was all about. The ground was stained crimson with blood and the glory thereof faded away and had to be renewed year by year. It sanctioned and ordained fleshly sons of Adam to perform intricate and elaborate ceremonies filled with mysteries and types. These priests, being themselves dead in trespasses and sin and unclean, must first bring a sacrifice that could not atone for their own guilt nor purge the conscience of sin. Then they accepted sacrifices from the people of national Israel and offered them in attempt to atone for the sin of the people. These could not cleanse those who brought them to be offered. “Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, worketh death in me by that which is good, that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Rom. 7:13).

Adherence to the statutes and ordinances of the first covenant could not cleanse or justify any flesh and obedience to every jot and tittle proved nothing more than the sinfulness of the participant. If a child of Adam and a child of Israel had no sin then there would be no need for a sacrifice for sin. “What shall we say then, is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust except the law had said, ‘Thou shalt not covet’. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence, for without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died” (Rom. 7:7ff).

Those who seek to be joined unto their lord strive for the righteousness of the law. They draw nigh with their lips but their heart is far from Him. They call themselves by His name, “and in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, we will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach” (Is. 4:1). They set forth the works of their hands as proof of kinship, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matt. 7:22). And they harass and torment the true children by saying, “Thou hast faith and I have works: Shew me thy faith without thy works and I will shew you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18).

The first covenant, like Leah the first wife, is full of labour and devoid of love.

The second covenant, being truly the first, is in the Godhead and unto those whom He loved with an everlasting love. This is represented by Rachel. This was a tabernacle not made with hands eternal in the heavens. It was a better covenant based upon a better promise and consummated by a better sacrifice than that of the blood of bulls and goats or the sprinkling of the ashes of a red heifer. Leah is full of labour in attempt to be joined, to be heard, to obey and to build a house unto her lord. Rachel is eternally joined. She is heard by her lover and master and hears only His voice call unto her. She will not hear another mans voice nor will she respond to the unsure sound of a foreign trumpet. She is faithful because her Lord is faithful above the entire house. She is faithful unto the end because she has His imputed faith which is the gift of God. She is born from above into an earthen vessel, afore prepared unto glory, and she cannot sin. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God” (I John 3:9). She obeys all the precepts, statutes, ordinances and laws of the Pure and Holy Law of God because a heart has been given unto her and His Spirit is within. “A new heart also will I give you and a new Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and ye shall keep My judgments and do them” (Ez. 36: 26). God has written this perfect law upon her INWARD PARTS and He causes her to walk therein. He has removed the heart of stone of the old man, upon which was written the words of condemnation and death. He is her God and she is His people. She is His bride, His body and His temple which He has built. She is the house that hath foundations whose builder and maker is God, which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sought for. She is the city set upon the hill, the new heaven and the New Jerusalem into which comes nothing that pollutes or corrupts.

The second, yet eternal, covenant, like Rachel is devoid of works and well grounded and secure in love. “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm; for love is strong as death; jealousy as cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it; if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned” (Song 7:6f).

Both Leah and Rachel were of the same family. They had the same father, shared the same genetic composition being sisters. They were fashioned by the potter from the same lump yet one was a vessel of labour and pain and the other was a vessel of love and mercy. But they shared the same origin in the flesh being of the earth earthy. Therefore being earthen vessels they both shared the same traits and carnal characteristics of the Adamic race. God had put the things of this world into their hearts so that they could not find out the things of God by searching. The wisdom of this world captivated their thoughts and the lusts of the flesh held their imaginations in bondage.

Leah was one with Jacob. She had the physical sensual proof of it in the copulative actions between her and her husband. She had the tangible proof of three children. Yet she did not perceive the testimony of his devotion as it (they) sat before her. Though she sought it earnestly, she could not earn Jacob’s love. Though the mating process was repeated, she could not see the blessings given to her by the hand of God. “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb reward” (Ps. 127:3).

Rachel was no better, even though a child of grace. Jacob had set his love upon her and yet desired physical blessings to prove it. She had not earned his love, he chose her (Gen. 29), and she could not lose it by her actions or the lack of fertility. “And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister and said unto Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die’.” (Gen. 30:1). The natural man cannot receive or understand the things of God. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher then the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:7f).

Adam cannot understand actions or events nor can he recognize blessings. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all SPIRITUAL blessings in the HEAVENLIES in Christ” (Eph 1:3). And yet the flesh continues to seek for a sign. How many signs were given when our Lord was here on this earth, during His ministry? The book of Matthew is resplendent with not only a limited account of the actions of our Lord in the things which He both said and did (limited for if all the things which He both said and did were recorded, the world could not contain the books that should be written (John 21:25)), but with the record of the words of the prophets being fulfilled every time He spoke. And yet neither His disciples nor the throngs of curious onlookers gathered around Him, could see these wonders though He spoke with plainness of speech. Every place He went, every word He spoke and every deed He performed fulfilled the Word of God and the whole world stood by in complete ignorance. “So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: It shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please and it shall prosper whereunto I sent it” (Is. 55:11). Like both Leah and Rachel they looked but did not see. They heard but did not understand. They ate and their bellies were full but they perceived not the glory of God in their midst.

Only when it pleases God, who has separated them from their mother’s womb, to reveal the presence of His Son in His vessels of mercy are they converted and understand. How comes this understanding? From college or seminary? From missionary, pamphlet or handbill? From the tears of a mother for a wayward child? No! Not by the enticing words of man or by the wisdom of the flesh, for the carnal man cannot receive the things of the Spirit. He is not equipped to know, or comprehend or understand that he, by grace and grace alone, has been chosen in Christ being eternally joined in the Godhead by the election of grace. “For to be carnally minded is death” (Rom. 8:6). The Lord made this clear when Peter uttered his profession saying, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God” for He said unto Peter, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto you but My Father which is in heaven.” The things of the Spirit are revealed by the Spirit from faith to faith, being spiritually understood. Even in the birth of her second and last son, Rachel did not comprehend, in the flesh, the grace of her Lord. She called his name, ‘son of my sorrow’, but his father called him ‘son of my right hand’.

Those who are joined in the Godhead are called seed. They are called children and they represent His generation. “A seed shall serve Him; It shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation” (Ps. 22:30). They must be eternally joined in God and His anointed for He is eternal, having neither beginning nor end. He is immutable and does not change; therefore the sons of the children of promise are not consumed. If the seed is not eternal then there was a time when the seed was not in Him. If the seed is not eternal then He is then a false prophet because He said, “I change not” but indeed has changed, for there was a time when the seed was not with Him. Since there is no time reference before the creation when did the seed become chosen in Christ? When did the seed become the children that were made partakers of flesh and blood? (Heb. 2:14) If the seed was not eternally in Christ, at what time did He become anointed of God to be the redeemer that would save His people from their sins? If He did not have a seed then He did not have a people and no people means no need for redemption or deliverance, yet John saw the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If God’s children were not eternally in Him then at what point did He begin to love them? What caused Him to begin to love them? Leah could not earn the love of Jacob just as Esau could not reclaim the birthright from Jacob.

“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting (‘owlam’ – eternal, perpetual, never ending, from antiquity, of old) love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee. (Jer. 31:3)” His love is as eternal as His law. His law is as eternal as He is and the object of His law and His love is equally as eternal. He is eternally righteous, Holy and faithful, from the beginning, having His seed in Him. His seed is His children and they have become partakers of flesh and blood being the treasure in the earthen vessel.

Many have raised objections to the concept of a vital relationship between seed and progenitor. This hesitance comes from the confinement of our reasoning to the temporal space of creation and a fear of being included with others who have distorted such views. The ‘Mormon’ group teaches that there was not only a pre-existence but that our station in this existence is determined by our action in the former. This is a vulgar derivation from the truth that the seed is eternally Holy being in Christ and the children are eternally faithful because of His eternal faithfulness and obedience. They became partakers of flesh and blood according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God and walk in the path that He has ordained for each one. But God is not a respecter of persons. He does not set His children, whom He foreknew, in a lesser station of life because they were disobedient in the before life. Nor does He elevate one to prominence and prestige as a reward for a successful performance in eternity. The ‘station’ of the children of the King is set for the abasement of the flesh, the proving of the imputed faith within and the Glory of God. “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what law, of works? Nay, but by the law of faith” (Rom. 3:27).

Levi was in his father Jacob (the child of promise) and his father Abraham (the father of the faithful) from the beginning. He was not only in his loins as a dormant seed but he paid tithes in Abraham. “And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham; for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedeck met him” (Heb. 7:9). How could he PAY if he was nothing more than a concept or a descendant in prospect? He was an actual vibrant seed in his grandfather’s loins with the surety of manifestation in the fullness of time and although man (and woman’s) copulative actions are the prescribed method for procreation, Levi’s existence was fixed from before the foundation of the world. No hormonal imbalance, no careful planning or precautionary action and no abortionist’s knife could still the life that was to be born. All of Adam’s seed, that was ordained to see the light of day, had a vital existence in Adam as seed, therefore, in Adam, all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. Since these things be so preciously true in the flesh how much greater the glory of the truth of the eternal vital existence of the entire household of faith, as seed and children, in Christ our corporate Head.

Levi represents Christ and the eternal union of the Godhead being inseparably joined as one, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one” (I John 5:7). He represents the household of faith in the eternal union of all the members together as one. “Now ye are no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly frame together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord “ (Eph. 2:19ff).

He represents the child of grace in that he has no inheritance of the land of Canaan being joined unto the law of God. “And Jehovah 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” (Num. 18:20). Levi and his children were assigned a station in life of priests unto God forever. They had no choice in the matter. They were chosen, consecrated, assigned and fully encapsulated, as a garden enclosed, in the work of the ministry. Those of the natural seed, being type and foreshadow, attended day and night to the affairs of the tabernacle, the sanctuary, the ordinances and the sacrifices. The smoke of the altar ascended night and day. The shew bread was fresh every day. The incense was renewed each morning and the carcasses of dead animals needed to be disposed of constantly. They had no rest in their service for their hands were full of the work. If this was true according to the pattern of heavenly things, how much more in the fulfillment? “John unto the seven churches in Asia: Grace unto you and peace from Him which is and which was and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sin in His own blood and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:4-6).

Christ has made His people, whom He redeemed by the washing of regeneration, priests unto God. They have been created in Him and ordained unto good works. He has redeemed unto Himself a people zealous of good works and given them the assurance that, “Being confident of this very thing, that He that hath begun a good work in you shall perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6) “For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (2:14). Their hands are full of the work of the tabernacle not made with hands but eternal in the heavens. “And speak unto Him saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of Hosts, saying, Behold the man named the Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord; even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne, and He shall be a priest upon His throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both…and they that are afar off shall come and build IN the temple of the Lord and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.” (Zech. 6:12-15).

Unlike the type, the true priests of God do not attend to an altar of sacrifices for, “We have such an High Priest which is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1). He is set down because He has finished the work set before Him, in righteousness, and there remains no more sacrifice for sin. His children have a new name which no man can learn. They sing a new song which is praise unto our God and the song of Moses, the song of deliverance. They offer up the sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise unto the Lord God Omnipotent. They have been, “reconciled unto God by Christ Jesus and have been given the ministry of reconciliation, to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespass unto them and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,” (II Cor. 5:18f). They have no choice in the matter but rather are made willing in the day of His power and being set free from the bondage of sin and death, do attend to the labour set before them with thanksgiving and joy. “Let us labour therefore to enter in that rest,” (Heb. 4:11).

Levi did not set out to become a son of Jacob. He did not strive to be a child of Israel. He was joined, in every sense of the word, by the eternal decrees of God. He was set apart, from his mother’s womb, for the work that God had assigned for him and was empowered to perform it as God intended. By the power of the majesty of heaven, he endured to the end and was faithful. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doeth easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1f).

Lest there be any inordinate affection for Levi, let us remember his part, with Simeon, in the cruel revenge of their sister Dinah. His ruthless treachery to Hamor and Shechem, his son, and all the males of the city, was the epitome of the baseness of the extent of the human nature and the paramount of diplomacy (Gen. 34:25). Jacob proclaims these two were, “instruments of cruelty in their habitation” (Gen. 49:5). How befitting for a tribe of people whose hands were filled with the job of slaughtering animals and sprinkling blood. Levi and his sons are carnal, sold under sin, and deserve no honour or praise save that as the Lord decreed them as type and foreshadow.

Lastly, but by no means finally exhausted, Levi represents the third part of a very interesting group in the scriptures, the house of the firstborn. Reuben was the natural first born to Jacob (Gen. 29:32). The son of a foreign woman, born in the land of Egypt, Joseph’s son, Ephraim, was grafted in and called equal to the first born, Reuben (Gen. 48:5). Levi was ordained first born over all of Israel and chosen of God, “Thus shall thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine. And after that the Levites shall go and 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 all the firstborn of the children of Israel, have I taken them; 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” (Num. 8:14). These groups of firstborn, being one, represent the general assembly of the called out assembly in the wilderness and are the only ones accepted in the Beloved as suitable sacrifices unto our God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).

(Elder) Chet Dirkes
August, 2008

Banner of Hope
Volume 2, No. 3