But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance, just as he said to them.

Joshua 13: 33

 

People are often very acutely focused on ownership. We want to have and to possess things and places. It makes us feel good, and this ownership helps us to be secure in our world. The ledger sheet or inventory of our stuff gives us a form of status among peers and sets us onto a level of perceived accomplishment in our society. It was also so for the Israelites as they settled into Canaan. Yet, for them the matter of possession of land was also a necessity, as they would be raising their food, constructing shelter, and developing their culture from the base of that land. So, for a significant portion of them to have nothing of their own meant that the rest of the people would need to produce enough excess to care for their needs and would be required to set aside some of their space for the Levites to live. In other words, supporting the priests and their families would require a real and tangible form of sacrifice on the parts of everyone else.

 

In addition to what was going to be demanded from the people in the other tribes, the people of the tribe of Levi were also being asked by God to make sacrifices. They would own nothing. They were being required to trust their neighbors for their survival and for their well being. The nature of their work made its value hard to measure in tangible terms; so, it was difficult to validate the worth of giving to their care and maintenance; this was especially true in lean years when everyone was struggling to have enough. Still, God’s plan placed the spiritual life and practice of the people at the center of all that they were about. The Lord had instructed them to keep Him as the singular central focus of their lives and to make worship of the Lord the distinctive element of who they were as people and as a nation. These Levites were given the responsibility for leading the people, their families, and the nation in this direction.

 

This entire concept seems relatively foreign to us in our cultures and during these times. There are some people in our world who have set themselves apart from the traditional forms of independence and self-sufficiency that are our general standard today. But they are few in number and most of them are, in fact, supported by large institutional church or other religious organizations. Perhaps for our times, this Levitical form of being set apart from the pressures and the necessity of self support and possession looks more like an internal perspective than it does like the external situation that these faith leaders were called to experience. The real point was one of faith and of trust. The Levites were to trust in God for everything and to have faith that He would provide all that they required for life. We too can hold all that we have and everything that we do as loosely as they were asked to do. We can set aside our striving after wealth, position, and power in order to pour our love, devotion, and energy into serving Christ. In this way, the Lord our God will be truly our inheritance too.

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