Old Testament rules of holiness had a vital either/or quality about them, unlike more tolerant religious rules of the present day. These older rules paint a portrait of a holy and just God, one whose will cannot be dismissed and whose word cannot be ignored. On one occasion that illustrates the stringency of these rules, a bystander tried to save the ark of the covenant from a fall, but in so doing violated the rule of holiness and lost his life (2 Samuel 6:6-7).
In view here is a rule that preserves the special character of the most revered religious space at the time, the tabernacle. It was the one place on earth God would occupy, and it had to be treated with utmost reverence and care. Only authorized personnel, the Levites, could handle and dismantle this special mobile God-space. On the human level, one reason for such severe rules was to dissuade ambitions men who might dream of controlling, through theft or cunning, the nation’s access to God. Can you imagine what power (and wealth) such control would provide? But at risk to one’s life, even the most ambitious would think better of exploiting the tabernacle.
On the divine level, God has always demanded the respect, allegiance, and obedience of all people everywhere. Though we rightly celebrate God’s mercy and love today, the Bible is clear that God’s judgment on sin will mean certain punishment and spiritual death for those who presume to invade God’s holy space apart from cleansing faith in His sacrificial lamb, Jesus Christ. The same severity of the Old Testament rule of holiness is in force today, to be applied on the day of final judgement.
NUMBERS 1:51- When the tabernacle is to set out, the Levites shall take it down, and when the tabernalce is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up. And if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death.