March 20

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, Levi was not given separate territory (Joshua 14:3). To the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said to them (13:33). The Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance (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 some were spiritually disqualified because they violated 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: It is written in the Law of Moses, You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn. Does God take care for oxen? Or says He it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written. . . . If we have sown to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal (material) things?. . . the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel (I Corinthians 9:9-11,14).

Word Studies:

20:3 avenger of blood = the nearest relative of a slain person who was to avenge his death by destroying the slayer; 21:2 suburbs = pasturelands; 21:32 refuge = protection.

Christ Portrayed:

By Eleazar, the chief priest (Joshua 21:1). Christ is our High Priest. The . . . High Priest of our profession (confession), Christ Jesus (Hebrews 3:1).

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Rep. Larry Combest (TX) and Rep. Gil Gutknecht (MN) · Country: Suriname (431,000) on the northeastern coast of South America · Major languages: Dutch and English · Very limited religious freedom · 27% Hindu; 22% Roman Catholic; 20% Protestant; 20% Muslim; 6% witchcraft and spirit worship · Prayer Suggestion: Seek God as more important than food to satisfy your hunger (Proverbs 3:13-18).

Optional Reading: John 11

Memory Verse for the Week: John 3:16