Inheritance wars have long been a genre of popular fiction. Whether the fights were over business or titles of nobility or who will take over the family criminal enterprise. Sometimes, battles are fought over who gets what, or who got the most. That last one may even destroy family ties as one person feels loved least or loved most.
In the agricultural world, inheritance what truly critical, as which land (or how much of it) could mean success or death, with success often being just making it to the next season.
The Levites were given cities and surrounding land, but that land and city was always within the domain of another tribe. In some respects, we can view them as embassies. Due to agreements and treaties, the land within an embassy is treated as if it belongs to the ambassadorial country.
However, the embassy being another country is a matter of treaty. It is not absolute. The perpetual tension of an embassy is that it can be revoked. In fact, “breaking off” of diplomatic relations usually went along with embassies being closed. The land of that “country” returned to the holding of the host country.
Upon the entrance to the Promised Land, the immediate response was fulfillment. In other words, there wasn’t an issue with the Levites and the allocations.
God was the inheritance of the Levites. That’s a pretty big inheritance. When the people, however, don’t respect or love God and thus don’t bring the first fruits or monetary replacement, then what?
From a modern perspective, it seems that the goal was for the Levites (certainly of the Temple service) to be sustained by the faithful sacrifice. The extended purpose of the Levitical cities was to guard against a people who forgot about God. At the Levites would have food.
Did the Levites fulfill God’s intent for them? It would seem not, but to put all (or even most) of the blame on them would deny others’ choices.
A number of years ago, I heard a quip, “Christianity is one generation away from vanishing.” In many respects, this is a true statement. If the faith is not passed down, it will not survive outside of the work of God. The same could be said of the Levites of the Jews.
In many respects, what the Levites experienced (and continue to) is what Christians should expect, too. Now, this is not because we aren’t good enough sharing the Word of God. It’s not that we’re bad about talking about the love of God (though there are many loud people who are awful at it).
We really need help at living it out well. This is the muddle, though. We think we are. We might even be. The world, however, doesn’t see it that way.
1) Do you think the world is more or less correct that we Christians (as a whole) do not live out the Christian life of love?
2) Do you think the Priesthood of all Believers (1 Peter 2:3–10) is equivalent to the Levites? Why or why not? If yes, what does that mean for you?
3) Levites’ primary purpose was the work of the Temple. Families taught the faith. Today, our “priests” (pastors) seem to be expected to be the only teachers. What can the Levites’ place teach us about pastors and families in regards to faith and discipleship?
Father, you called a certain people to facilitate relationship between you and your chosen people. Help us to be facilitators of your dream for the world to reconcile itself to you. Amen.