August 24, 2012

Sharing the Inheritance

Joshua 21:1-3, 41-42

The Israelites gave the Levites … towns and pasturelands out of their own inheritance.
—Joshua 21:3


After nearly all the tribes had received their inheritance from the Lord, it was necessary for the Levites to receive their allotment. They received towns and pasturelands from all the other tribes, as God had commanded (see Numbers 35:1-5).

The Lord required this because the tribe of Levi was to serve God as priests and as caretakers of the Lord’s house, the “tent of meeting” or tabernacle, in which God came to live among his people. As mediators between God and his people, the Levites would help with the daily sacrifices and take care of God’s dwelling place (Numbers 1:47-53; 3:5-13).

The grant of “towns and pasturelands” throughout Israel to the tribe of Levi made it possible for priests and Levites to serve as a constant reminder that all Israel lived in the Lord’s presence, no matter how far they lived from the tabernacle (or, later, from the temple in Jerusalem). That was good, for it prevented those who lived close to the tabernacle from thinking they were special.

God’s only Son, our ultimate High Priest, Jesus Christ, brings us into God’s presence. In that way Christians, no matter where they live, share the inheritance Jesus gained on the cross on which he died for our sin. He stands before God on our behalf, and we are credited with his righteousness (Romans 3:22; Hebrews 10:1-14). We all live in God’s presence!

Thank you for the marvelous gift of your presence, Lord. Keep us close to you, through Jesus Christ, our heavenly High Priest. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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