Take Special Care of the Poor Clergy!
The heading is a quote from a commentator’s explanation of what is recorded in the chapter.
The calling of the Priests and Levites was to serve the community by serving the Lord who was the Lord both of the Land and of the community.
The possession of the Priests and Levites was the Lord himself: not land but the Lord. However provision needed to be made for their accommodation and maintenance and God’s people, by provisions like these and by their share of the sacrifices, were to care of those who ministered in the sanctuary.
The arrangement of the cities of the sons of Levi forms a general likeness to the way the members of tribe were situated around the tent of meeting in the wilderness.
As has been observed before, these were God’s people in the land God had chosen to be His and the Tent which marked his Presence stood at the centre: at that time in Shiloh.
The Cities of Refuge, havens for unintentional killers until their matter could be judged, were allocated as God had commanded.
Perhaps we can draw from this passage a couple of important lessons for ourselves.
Initially, we might remind ourselves that whether under the Old or the New Covenant God is to be at the centre of the life of the believing community. When the people of God gather together, they gather around God as His people. Their primary responsibility is to honour him with their praise and prayers, with their faith and love for His word, with their submission to his will, and with their love for one another. In short, they are to worship Him as the Lord in their midst.
Perhaps too, it is not improper to notice the responsibility that falls upon the people of God to maintain appropriately those who serve the Christian community in the things of God.
A humorous remark used to circulate about the fervent prayer of an old Church Warden as he contemplated the coming of the new minister: “Lord you keep him humbly and we’ll keep him poor!” May the Lord indeed keep his servants humble but churches have no license from God to be ungenerous towards those who serve their spiritual wellbeing in any capacity.
God Gave Them Rest
Theses verses end this major section of Joshua. The notion of rest is an important one. It is an expression that God has fulfilled his promises which this small section directly asserts.
Hebrews chapter 4 takes up the idea of “rest” and ought to be read in conjunction with this passage. We should take heed to the encouragement from Hebrews to “hold fast our confession” and to “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”.
“In that I Rejoice”
Paul’s source of gladness was that whether by kind friend or jealous antagonists the gospel of the grace of God was being made known even in the ‘praetorium’ or governor’s residence.
The message of Christ, and of God’s free and abundant grace, in him is a joy to those who depend on Christ alone for their salvation. Their joy is increased when, by whatever means, that saving truth invades the life of others enabling them to enter into the same experience of blessing.
Paul would teach the Ephesians that God had chosen them in Christ before the world began with the purpose that they should be holy and blameless before him in love. That blessed condition was realised when they heard of Christ and his saving work on the cross and in his resurrection and believed in it for themselves.
It is when we are moved by God’s Spirit to see the wonder of God’s salvation and spontaneously rejoice in it, that we are the most moved to help others to see what we have been led to see.
The joy of Paul in Jesus is spelt out in all his letters as he unfolds the sovereign, full, and free salvation into which God draws sinful people by His Spirit through the gospel message.
It my opinion the best way to stir the flame of evangelistic zeal is to see and to embrace in mind and heart the wonder of a salvation that takes someone dead in trespasses and sin, pardons them, sets them apart as God’s possession, liberates them from Sin’s dominion and the clutches of Satan, places His Spirit within them as his seal of ownership, and undertakes to present them faultless in His presence with great joy. In that I too rejoice and will continue to rejoice throughout eternity.