Both Eleazer and Ithamar, the two sons of Aaron, had a share in the service of the Tabernacle, and in type their service portrays the priesthood of believers today in the House of God
Eleazer is mentioned in the book of Numbers over thirty times, and in chapter 4 his particular function in the Tabernacle service is clearly outlined.
“And Eleazer, the son of Aaron the priest, shall have the oversight of the oil for the light, and the fragrant incense, and the continual oblation, and the anointing oil, the oversight of the whole Tabernacle, and of all that is therein, over the sanctuary and over its furniture” (v. 16, N.Tr.).
It is clear that he was responsible to see that all the daily needs of the Tabernacle service were supplied: oil, incense, etc. These would need to be at hand every day to keep the system in function. Upon Aaron devolved the task of dressing the seven lamps on the lampstand and lighting those lamps every evening. When he went in the morning to dress the lamps, and again at even to light them, he put incense on the golden altar. Here we have a beautiful picture of the priestly service of our Lord. We are under His care today, so that He may order our circumstances and grant us the supply of His Spirit, that during the darkness obtaining in this world, we may “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). Along with this dressing and lighting, Aaron burned the fragrant incense which again reminds us of the priestly intercession of our Lord who “ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
Now, as we read in Numbers 4:16, Eleazar was responsible to see that these requirements were in supply: the oil for the light; the incense for the golden altar and the daily oblation, which also burned on the altar of burnt offering, all the time Aaron was in the Tabernacle, both morning and evening. These three things were all in function together. The savour of the evening oblation, the fragrant incense on the golden altar ascending, and the light shining, one in the court, and the other two in the holy place. These things typify for us the daily service of the House of God and the daily need connected with that service, if we are to be found today in the exercise of our holy priesthood in association with our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Priest over the House of God.
Ithamar was responsible for the building itself, as we may gather in the following verse.
“These are the things numbered of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, which were counted, according to the commandment of Moses, by the service of the Levites, under the hand of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the priest” (Ex. 38:21, N.Tr.).
So in this chapter in Numbers we find him mentioned twice, in verses 28 and 33. Gershon and Marari came under his hand, that portion of the Levites who carried the curtains, the boards of the tabernacle and the pillars of the court. In this way both Eleazar and Ithamar exercised their priesthood as we read in 1 Chronicles 24:2, “and Eleazar and Ithamar exercised the priesthood” (N.Tr.)
This brings to light another point of interest in this chapter. It seems that in the exercise of his priesthood, Eleazar was associated in the work of the Kohathites when the tabernacle was in transit, while Ithamar was associated with both Gershon and Marari. Kohath had the honour of carrying the holy vessels which speak of the personal, moral and official glories of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Gershon fell the lot of carrying the curtains, the tabernacle, and the tent, which composed the house in which these vessels—which speak of Christ—stood in their respective places before God. Then to Marari fell the lot of carrying the boards of the tabernacle and the pillars of the court, that which gave support to the curtains of the tabernacle and the hangings of the court. This speaks of what is practical, for the boards and the bars, the pillars, the pegs and the cords, were calculated to give stability to the tabernacle and the court hangings. For us this would indicate the maintenance of practical righteousness towards the world. In carrying all these vessels and materials, Kohath came under the hand of Eleazar, and Gershon and Marari under the hand of Ithamar.
Now this association of Levitical and priestly service is clearly outlined for us in Numbers 8. There we read that the Levites were given (“gifted” according to Young’s Concordance), to Aaron and to his sons to do the service of the tabernacle. Does this not indicate that all true Levitical service has in view the supporting of priestly service in the presence of God? This is the real end in view of all true ministry, that worship to our God and Father and our Lord Jesus Christ may be the result obtained.
Now in attempting to give the New Testament answer to these things, we have thought that the service of Marari suggests what we may call a practical ministry; the service of Gershon a doctrinal ministry; both under the hand of Ithamar. But the service of Kohath under the hand of Eleazar a devotional ministry concerning the greatness and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then all would come under the hand of Aaron as the High Priest upon whose shoulders lay the responsibility to see that all was done according to the mind of God as given through Moses.
If we think then of Aaron as setting forth Christ in the presence of God today, we see in Eleazer and Ithamar his sons, the priesthood of believers who are fitted to be in association with Him and to share, under His control and guidance, in the holy and royal priesthood. So we read in the type, “And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him” (Ex. 28:1).
So today we have been called to share in the priestly service of God’s spiritual system. This necessitates true priestly conditions in sanctification; and allied with this, a ministry of all truth to instruct us in the knowledge of God. Answering to the service of Eleazer, we should see that all that is needed in a spiritual way is supplied and maintained. Like Ithamar, who was more concerned with the building, whether being carried or erected, we should see the need of rightly assembling together for the service of God, meeting according to Scripture, so that the service may go on. If then a devotional ministry, a doctrinal ministry and a practical ministry are maintained, right conditions will be produced in which our priestly service will go on for the present pleasure of God. It will lead us into conscious association with our Lord and into holy liberty in the presence of God inside the veil, where we can give to our God the praise and worship of our souls. For this we have the indwelling Spirit, and thus the heavenly system may be in activity today, the grand answer to all these types.
This is but a suggestion as to these typical matters, but may this slight consideration of one of the beautiful types of Scripture lead us into a greater appreciation of our heavenly calling, and the privilege we have today of answering to it for the pleasure of our God and Father.
Scripture Truth 1951, p. 124