MLToday: [Joshua Chapter Twenty-One]: Priestly Possessions in Christ. In this chapter we see that the Levites were not given a province in Canaan. Instead they were scattered throughout the 12 tribes and given cities to live in. This speaks of us of the Great Commission. We are priests unto God. Jesus didn’t tell us to go out and build closed communities and societies but rather to scatter throughout the world as ambassadors of the good news of the Gospel.

Today: [Joshua Chapter Twenty-One]: Priestly Possessions in Christ. In this chapter we see that the Levites were not given a province in Canaan. Instead they were scattered throughout the 12 tribes and given cities to live in. This speaks of us of the Great Commission. We are priests unto God. Jesus didn’t tell us to go out and build closed communities and societies but rather to scatter throughout the world as ambassadors of the good news of the Gospel.

[Jos 21:1-45 KJV] 1 Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel; 2 And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle. 3 And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs.

In this chapter the leaders of the tribe of Levi ask Joshua and Eleazar the priest to give them the cities and suburbs that had been promised them by Moses. Notice who was making the request. It was the fathers. In Malachi we see there is a connect between the fathers and the land:

[Mal 4:6 KJV] 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Notice that the disposition of the fathers can bring a blessing or a curse upon the land. Fathers have more authority than they know. In this passage the fathers intercede and the blessing comes. Joshua and Eleazar are a type of Jesus as Lord and High Priest. As fathers we come before Jesus for our children and the generations after us. These fathers were not just asking for themselves but for the generations after them who would live in these cities.

4 And the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites: and the children of Aaron the priest, [which were] of the Levites, had by lot out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, thirteen cities. 5 And the rest of the children of Kohath [had] by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.

There were three branches of the tribe of Levi: the Kohathites, the Gershonites and the Mererarites.

Kohath means to “collect, to assemble”. The Kohathites were responsible for the sacred artifacts inside the tabernacle such as the table of showbread, the lampstand, and the ark of the Covenant. When we come together God wants us to be the substance in our function as the church that these artifacts were the shadow of.

6 And the children of Gershon [had] by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.

The Gershonites were responsible for the hangings and the curtains of the tabernacle including the gate Jesus referred to when He calls Himself “The Door” and the Veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.

Gershon means “expelled” or “outcast”. This is poetic because they were in charge of the “outer court”. It is interesting to note that the territory where the cities of Gershon were located eventually became identified as the Galilee where Jesus came from. The name Galilee itself originated as a pejorative or derogatory term compared with our modern word “boondocks” or “boonies”.

7 The children of Merari by their families [had] out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities. 8 And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

The Merarites took care of the posts, framework, tent pegs and the courtyard itself of the tabernacle. The name of Merari has a double meaning of “My Strength” and “My bitterness”. It speaks of Jesus leaving heaven to humble Himself as a man that He might become our strength.

So we can see the combined metaphor of these Levitical families that speak to us of the believer as a priest unto God and the church as a Levitical city. We are to be assembled (Kohath); in the strength of Christ (Merari); to Jesus who is “outside the camp” of the cultures of the world (Gershon). All three of these family names have meaning for us.

9 And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are [here] mentioned by name, 10 Which the children of Aaron, [being] of the families of the Kohathites, [who were] of the children of Levi, had: for theirs was the first lot. 11 And they gave them the city of Arba the father of Anak, which [city is] Hebron, in the hill [country] of Judah, with the suburbs thereof round about it. 12 But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession. 13 Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, [to be] a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs, 14 And Jattir with her suburbs, and Eshtemoa with her suburbs, 15 And Holon with her suburbs, and Debir with her suburbs, 16 And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, [and] Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes. 17 And out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs, Geba with her suburbs, 18 Anathoth with her suburbs, and Almon with her suburbs; four cities. 19 All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, [were] thirteen cities with their suburbs. 20 And the families of the children of Kohath, the Levites which remained of the children of Kohath, even they had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim. 21 For they gave them Shechem with her suburbs in mount Ephraim, [to be] a city of refuge for the slayer; and Gezer with her suburbs, 22 And Kibzaim with her suburbs, and Bethhoron with her suburbs; four cities. 23 And out of the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh with her suburbs, Gibbethon with her suburbs, 24 Aijalon with her suburbs, Gathrimmon with her suburbs; four cities. 25 And out of the half tribe of Manasseh, Tanach with her suburbs, and Gathrimmon with her suburbs; two cities. 26 All the cities [were] ten with their suburbs for the families of the children of Kohath that remained.

Aaron was of the tribe of Kohath. As the original High Priest their lands and cities were given to them out of the territories of the tribe of Judah or what eventually became Judea. The High Priest throughout Israel’s history was always connected with the King. Jesus is our High Priest and our King. In later centuries the Sadducees developed out of the line of the Kohathites.

27 And unto the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, out of the [other] half tribe of Manasseh [they gave] Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, [to be] a city of refuge for the slayer; and Beeshterah with her suburbs; two cities. 28 And out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishon with her suburbs, Dabareh with her suburbs, 29 Jarmuth with her suburbs, Engannim with her suburbs; four cities. 30 And out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with her suburbs, Abdon with her suburbs, 31 Helkath with her suburbs, and Rehob with her suburbs; four cities. 32 And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, [to be] a city of refuge for the slayer; and Hammothdor with her suburbs, and Kartan with her suburbs; three cities. 33 All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families [were] thirteen cities with their suburbs.

34 And unto the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites, out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with her suburbs, and Kartah with her suburbs, 35 Dimnah with her suburbs, Nahalal with her suburbs; four cities. 36 And out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with her suburbs, and Jahazah with her suburbs, 37 Kedemoth with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs; four cities. 38 And out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with her suburbs, [to be] a city of refuge for the slayer; and Mahanaim with her suburbs, 39 Heshbon with her suburbs, Jazer with her suburbs; four cities in all. 40 So all the cities for the children of Merari by their families, which were remaining of the families of the Levites, were [by] their lot twelve cities. 41 All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel [were] forty and eight cities with their suburbs. 42 These cities were every one with their suburbs round about them: thus [were] all these cities. 43 And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. 44 And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45 There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

So we see once the land of Canaan was conquered and the territories divided between the tribes that God did not forget to give the Levites their portion. This is because the Levites were not given any provinces in the Promised Land according to:

Jos 13:14 KJV – 14 Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them.

[Num 18:20 KJV] 20 And the LORD 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.

[Deu 10:9 KJV] 9 Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD [is] his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.

The New Testament teaches that you and I are priests unto God. We can look at the history of the Kohathites, Merarites and Gershonites and learn of our dependence on God. The Levites not having their own province were placed in a vulnerable position to put their security on God alone. In ancient times this was a hedge against idolatry for the Levites were scattered throughout the land as an encouragement of faithfulness to God. When the early church tried to define itself as a “closed Christian community” they brought persecution – for Jesus had told them to “go into all the world…” We do not go as crusaders but as priests unto God to model and minister and encourage faithfulness to God in all the places where God sends us.

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