Most of the conquering’s been done. Big chunks of land have already been deeded to the larger tribes. Time to divvy out the rest of the promised land.
And I wonder what it was like for the leaders of the different tribes of Israel to gather round as the lot was cast “in Shiloh before the LORD” (Joshua 18:7). Shiloh, that’s the first place where the tent of meeting was first set up after the dust had settled. And it was there Joshua and “the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the people of Israel” met “before the LORD” and allotted the land (19:51).
But what I’m really chewing on is what it was like for the tribe of Levi?
Hovering this morning over a simple, matter of fact statement, that I’m thinking kind of has huge eternal implications. Wondering how satisfied those Levites really were with an inheritance that lasts.
The Levites have no portion among you, for the priesthood of the LORD is their heritage.
(Joshua 18:7 ESV)
Was it like being gathered ’round the tree with family on Christmas morning and watching as gifts were passed out to everyone else but you? Or coming home from hours of trick-or-treating on Halloween with your brothers and sisters and your bag is the only bag that comes home empty? And what does dad say? “Oh, never you mind! Sure, your brothers are getting land, and cities, and fields and such. But you, you’ve got the priesthood as your heritage.” Hmmm. How might that play?
I’ve got the priesthood too (1Pet. 2:5) by the grace of God and through the finished work of the cross. But I also have a house I call mine (though, it really isn’t, is it?). And some retirement savings (well, a little less these days). But what if all I had to “call my own” was the priesthood? What if that was it?
What if being consecrated for God’s service was all I could call “mine” in this world, while those around me had the privilege of accumulating stuff and passing it on to their kids? Would it be enough?
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21). Would it mess too much with what Jesus said to also say that where our inheritance is, where our legacy lies, there our heart will be also? I’m thinking not.
If our heritage is found in the name we make for ourselves here on earth, or the amount of stuff we can leave behind to our kids and others, then that’s where we are going to be investing our discretionary resources — the time, talent, and treasures we have left over after we’ve put food on the table and paid the bills. But if our inheritance lies somewhere else, if it is ultimately found in being set apart for God’s work in us and through us, then that’s where we’ll be investing our “surplus” — investing it in an inheritance that lasts.
If this current pandemic season reminds us of anything it’s that life is fragile and so much of what we might seek to live for just doesn’t stand up.
But this current season can also remind us we’ve been given a priesthood as our heritage, and that’s an inheritance that’ll be around forever.
And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
(Revelation 5:8-10 ESV)
O Father, give us the heart of the Levite, so that, if we had nothing else to call our own, we’d be content with the priesthood as our heritage. That we would faithfully “practice” being priests, here and now, in anticipation of reigning with Your Son, there and then. Might we know the peace, security, and blessing of living for an inheritance that lasts.
By Your grace. For Your glory.