Joshua 21:1-42: Staying Close By

Read: Joshua 21:1-42

The Levites were the descendants of the Levi, and they were responsible for a number of cities scattered throughout the land of Israel. The Levites did not receive a land inheritance in the manner of the rest of the tribes of Israel, rather they received cities and some of the surrounding pastures for live stocks. The Levites received God as their inheritance, meaning that their work was to be ministry to the people, and the people in turn would offer tithes and offerings (Joshua 13:8-33). The Levites would take their portion from these offerings so they could have something to eat.

The distribution of the Levites throughout the land of Canaan was strategic because it made the ones responsible for the ministry of God accessible to all. Rather than being cornered away in a particular part of the countryside, the Levites had 48 towns. In a country the size of Israel, this means that there was sure to be a Levitical city nearby. The priests acted as intercessors for the people of God in their time. They were also the ones who offered sacrifices, managed worship, acted as scribes, administered judgment, taught the Law, among many other responsibilities. Having a priest nearby was therefore important to for giving sacrifice, receiving education, having access to justice. If they were far away, one would have to travel great distances to have access to such things.

When Jesus came, he became for Christians the priest before God (Hebrews 7:20-22). He offered the perfect and final sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:25-28) and makes intercession for all (Hebrews 7:25). Christians no longer have to go to a priest for intercession – they can plead before God and Jesus intercedes. Likewise, Christians do not have to make sacrifices because Jesus again is the sacrifice. Staying close to Jesus therefore should be a top priority in the lives of those who believe. While Jesus fulfills many of the priestly duties, there are some duties that are given to the church to administer such as teaching, managing worship, evangelism, collecting offerings, and carrying out the ministries of helps (2 Timothy 2:2, Acts 2:42-47).  Hebrews 10:18-25 relates Jesus’ ministry to the Christian’s ministry: because Jesus is the great priest and the great sacrifice, there is confidence and hope. Around this confidence and hope Christians should unite and encourage one another to love and do good deeds in a spirit of unity. For this to happen, their needs to be a gather – that is a local church – for the believer to both encourage and be encouraged to carry out the ministries of the church God has given. Keeping Jesus close and the church close (not just geographically, but in relationally too) are quintessential to living a life committed to God.

Lord, I want to be close to you and your church!

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