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Why were the Levites chosen to be in charge of the temple? Levi was just as rotten as his brothers, so why were they set apart from the others?





Dear Erin,

I’m curious if you have your own personal Urim and Thummim. We all tend to look at the Bible as though it were a documentary of the history of mankind. But a little thought reveals that all the writers of the Bible, were not writers of the Bible at all. When they wrote, the Bible didn’t even exist. These writers, who were prophets of God, wrote with a singular purpose, and it was not to lay out the complete history of mankind, or the even the complete history of the people with whom they were surrounded.

The House of Israel was, by and large, a recreant lot, running after the false gods of whichever people they were among, and flouting the commands of their own God. The purpose of most of the writings of the prophets was to call the people of Israel, who indeed were God’s chosen people, back to repentance and compliance with the laws of God. They were the chosen people, not because of their own righteousness, but because of the astoundingly great righteous of their progenitor, Abraham.
Nephi tells us in the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 29:14

And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

And in 3 Nephi 20:25, the Savior tells the people—

And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

Of those who hear the words of the prophets and yield obedience to their pleadings, the Lord has said—

For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.


They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God (D&C 84:33-34).

So no one knows whether Levi was just as rotten as his brothers or not, but the fact is that he and his descendants were chosen to administer the rites of the Priesthood of Aaron to all the other tribes of Israel. That is the fact; and from that fact in the biblical record we can make a judgement–that if indeed the sacred responsibility of administering in the Aaronic priesthood required the most righteous of the sons of Jacob, then it falls that Levi was the most righteous, but we don’t even know if the Lord gave that responsibility to the most righteous of Jacob’s sons.






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