Read Joshua 20 -- 21
In Today 's Reading:
Six cities of refuge appointed; 48 cities given to the Levites; the Israelites possess the land
Unlike all the other tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi was given no separate territory (Joshua 14:3). But to the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give a portion. The LORD Himself, the God of Israel, was their inheritance, just as He had promised them (13:33). But the Levites among you do not get a portion because their inheritance is the priesthood of the LORD (18:7).
The Levites were divided into three groups according to the descendants of Levi's three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. But only those Israelites who were descendants of Levi through Kohath's grandson Aaron could be priests and serve in the tabernacle. However, even some of these descendants were physically disqualified to be ministers at the altar because of disabilities and defects; and some were spiritually disqualified because of violating one or more of the commandments (Leviticus 21:1-23). The priests were responsible for preserving, transcribing, teaching, and interpreting the law. They were also the civil officers responsible for the administration of the law (Deuteronomy 17:9-12; 31:9,11-12,26). All the Levites, not merely the ones who were responsible for the worship at the tabernacle, were to receive an equal share of the tithes from the other tribes. Each tribe was to provide for the physical welfare of the priests within its own territory. This was not left up to the goodwill of the people, but was a command from God.
God devoted 42 of the 45 verses in Joshua 21 to emphasizing the Israelites' obligation to support the ministers of His word. No one is too poor or exempt from giving his tithe which is a tenth of his income and, thus, proportionately equal for all. When Israel was faithful in this, God mightily blessed them. When they failed, they suffered.
The apostle Paul illustrated this saying: For it is written in the law of Moses, Do not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain. Is God really concerned with oxen? Or isn't He really saying it for us? Yes, this is written for us. . . . If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? . . . the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel (I Corinthians 9:9-11,14).
By Eleazar, the chief priest (Joshua 21:1). Christ is our High Priest. Jesus, the . . . high priest of our confession (Hebrews 3:1).
Government Officials: Rep. Larry Combest (TX) and Rep. Gil Gutknecht (MN) · Country: St. Lucia (154,000) in the eastern Caribbean · Major languages: English and French patois · Religious freedom · 83% Roman Catholic; 13% Protestant; 2% spirit worship · Prayer Suggestion: Ask for boldness in telling others about the Lord (Psalms 119:46).
Optional Reading: John 11
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:15