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Joshua Lesson 18 - Joshua Chapter 21
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Contact: David Parham 940-322-4343
Last week we saw the cities of refuge being setup on both sides of the river Jordan. When someone who was guilty of anothers death by accident, they could flee to the city of refuge and be safe as long as they abode by the rules and did not leave the city until after the High Priest died. We saw the typification of Jesus Christ in these cities. We must flee to Jesus if we want refuge for our sins. Thank God we have a High Priest who understands our infirmities and weakness. This week, we cover the tribe of Levi coming before the assembled court of Israel and presenting their claim for their possession.
I. The Portion of the Levites
Josh 21:1 Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel;
Josh 21:2 And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle.
Josh 21:3 And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs.
The heads of the tribe of Levi came forth before the heads of the tribes of Israel and present their claim for an inheritance. We see the three sons of Levi were Kohath, Greshon, and Marari. We find in Numbers 35 that God told Moses to give cities to the Levites.
Num 35:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
Num 35:2 Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them.
Num 35:3 And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts.
Num 35:4 And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about.
Num 35:5 And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits; and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities.
Josh 21:4 And the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites: and the children of Aaron the priest, which were of the Levites, had by lot out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, thirteen cities.
Aaron was a descendent of Levi, and was the first high priest of Israel. We know he was not the first high priest that God had.
Gen 14:17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.
Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
So Melchizedek was the priest of God before Aaron, but not the priest of Israel. Aaron was of the families of the Kohathites. (Verse 10)
Aaron had four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
Num 3:2 And these are the names of the sons of Aaron; Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
Num 3:3 These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest's office.
Num 3:4 And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the sight of Aaron their father.
Num 3:5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 3:6 Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.
Num 3:7 And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle.
Num 3:8 And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.
Num 3:9 And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel.
Num 3:10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
The Levites were given unto Aaron to minister unto him. The sons of Levi are types of Christians who are given to Christ to serve Him.
Josh 21:5 And the rest of the children of Kohath had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.
Josh 21:6 And the children of Gershon had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.
Josh 21:7 The children of Merari by their families had out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.
Josh 21:8 And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.
The family of Aaron was the only family from the tribe of Levi that was to be priest of Israel.
Num 17:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 17:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man's name upon his rod.
Num 17:3 And thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.
Num 17:4 And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.
Num 17:5 And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.
Num 17:6 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers' houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.
Num 17:7 And Moses laid up the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness.
Num 17:8 And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.
Num 17:9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.
Num 17:10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.
Num 17:11 And Moses did so: as the LORD commanded him, so did he.
Num 17:12 And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish.
Num 17:13 Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?
Two of Aarons sons died when thy offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not to do.
Lev 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
Lev 10:2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
I think God records these types of things in the Word to remind us that we are not free to do things our way. God sets up the rules, and we as His children must follow those commands. I am thankful that because of Christ, we do not suffer the quick hand of judgement today like they did in the dispensation of the Law. But we are not free to change the rules to fit our liking. Only if we follow the rules will we receive a reward for our work for the Lord.
2 Tim 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
2 Tim 2:6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
2 Tim 2:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
Num 18:7 Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest's office for every thing of the altar, and within the veil; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest's office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
God had made special rules concerning the priesthood, and no stranger was to come to the altar within the veil. Only the priest could do this, and anyone else who came in was to be put to death.
We see that Uzzah lost his life when the touched the Ark of the Lord when David sent to bring the Ark home the wrong way.
1 Sam 6:1 And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
1 Sam 6:2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
1 Sam 6:3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
1 Sam 6:4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
1 Sam 6:5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
1 Sam 6:6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
1 Sam 6:7 Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
1 Sam 6:8 And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
1 Sam 6:9 And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us.
1 Sam 6:10 And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:
1 Sam 6:11 And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
Why did Uzzah lose his life? It was because only the sons of Kohath were to move the Ark. God means for us to follow His rules.
Num 4:15 And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.
1 Chr 15:2 Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.
The sons of Kohath were the only ones allowed to move the Ark, and they were to be carried an exact way. (See Numbers 4:1-15) The ark was to be carried upon the shoulders of these men.
1 Chr 15:15 And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD.
2 Sam 6:3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.
2 Sam 6:4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark.
The "new cart" was the way the Philistines had carried the Ark. They typified the world. You and I must be careful not to be carried away with "new ways" of reaching others for Christ. God said that men and women will be saved by the "Preaching of the Gospel". Should we condemn every new thing people do to try to reach others? Probably not. Paul said that he did everything possible to reach the lost. He came as a Jew to the Jew and as weak to those who were weak.
1 Cor 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1 Cor 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
1 Cor 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1 Cor 9:23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
But did Paul make a mockery of the Gospel? Absolutely not. He became all things to all men to preach the gospel to them. We are to preach the gospel, not make the pulpit a place of disgrace. So many things are being done in the name of God in the pulpit today that it has to be displeasing to the Lord. I believe we should judge all things by the whole Word of the Lord, and remember that we should do "All things decently and in order."
When Uzzah died what seemed like an innocent death, David studied out how the Ark was to be carried and changed the way they brought it back. Each of us need to study Gods Word and know what we should and should not be doing in Gods name. It does make a difference how we do the work of God.
We find that after the death of Aaron, Eleazar became the high priest of Israel.
Num 20:23 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying,
Num 20:24 Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah.
Num 20:25 Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor:
Num 20:26 And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there.
Num 20:27 And Moses did as the LORD commanded: and they went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation.
Num 20:28 And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount.
Num 20:29 And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel.
II. The Work Assigned the Levites
Josh 21:9 And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are here mentioned by name,
Josh 21:10 Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi, had: for theirs was the first lot.
In Numbers chapter 4, we see the work assigned for the sons of Levi. They were to take
care of the Tabernacle and the administration of it. In the first 20 verses, we see the wok assigned to the sons of Kohath, while verses 21-28 show the work to be done by the children of Gershon. Verses 29-33 dictated the work that the children of Merari were to do.
Deu 12:19 Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.
We see from this verse that the Levites were to never be forsaken by the other tribes. Their duty to administer the priestly duties was important to God. It is interesting to note that no separate portion of Canaan was allotted to the Levites when the land was distributed.
Deu 10:8 At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.
Deu 10:9 Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.
Does this mean that those that are dedicated to the Lord will receive no inheritance. Perhaps down here on earth we may not have a lot, but God is never going to forget our labors of love we do for Him.
We saw in verse 2 that the portion received was a gift to the Levites. They received their cities from all 12 tribes.
Num 35:8 And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.
Those that had much to give were to give more, while those that had little were to give less. When it comes to giving to the Lord, we know it is always fair. A percentage is equal across the board. I read recently that the majority of Christians making under $10,000 per year were the most faithful in tithing, while the percentages dropped as the income rose. That is so sad. When God blesses us more, we certainly should give more out of a gratitude of love.
We see that the command to give the cities by the tribes was done here in Chapter 21 of Joshua.
Josh 21:12 But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession.
Josh 21:13 Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs,
Josh 21:14 And Jattir with her suburbs, and Eshtemoa with her suburbs,
Josh 21:15 And Holon with her suburbs, and Debir with her suburbs,
Josh 21:16 And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.
Nine cities were given to the Levites out of Judah and Simeons lots. Out of the other tribes, only four cites were taken from each tribe. The first lot taken was given to Aaron. It should be observed that more cities were assigned unto them than any other son of Levi.
III. The Cities for the Levites
In verse 11, we are told that the city of Herron became the possession of the children of Aaron. This was the city which had been given to Caleb by the commandment of the Lord.
Josh 15:13 And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron.
It appears that Caleb made a personal gift of the city unto the priest. Willingness to give to others is a mark of a great Christian.
Josh 21:17 And out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs, Geba with her suburbs,
Josh 21:18 Anathoth with her suburbs, and Almon with her suburbs; four cities.
Josh 21:19 All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their suburbs.
Josh 21:20 And the families of the children of Kohath, the Levites which remained of the children of Kohath, even they had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim.
Josh 21:21 For they gave them Shechem with her suburbs in mount Ephraim, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Gezer with her suburbs,
Josh 21:22 And Kibzaim with her suburbs, and Bethhoron with her suburbs; four cities.
Josh 21:23 And out of the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh with her suburbs, Gibbethon with her suburbs,
Josh 21:24 Aijalon with her suburbs, Gathrimmon with her suburbs; four cities.
Josh 21:25 And out of the half tribe of Manasseh, Tanach with her suburbs, and Gathrimmon with her suburbs; two cities.
Josh 21:26 All the cities were ten with their suburbs for the families of the children of Kohath that remained.
From verse 9 through verse 26, we have the record of the cities given to the children of Kohath, a total of 23 cities altogether.
Josh 21:27 And unto the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, out of the other half tribe of Manasseh they gave Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Beeshterah with her suburbs; two cities.
Josh 21:28 And out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishon with her suburbs, Dabareh with her suburbs,
Josh 21:29 Jarmuth with her suburbs, Engannim with her suburbs; four cities.
Josh 21:30 And out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with her suburbs, Abdon with her suburbs,
Josh 21:31 Helkath with her suburbs, and Rehob with her suburbs; four cities.
Josh 21:32 And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Hammothdor with her suburbs, and Kartan with her suburbs; three cities.
Josh 21:33 All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their suburbs.
In verses 27 to 33, we have the record of the 13 cities given to the children of Gershon.
Josh 21:34 And unto the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites, out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with her suburbs, and Kartah with her suburbs,
Josh 21:35 Dimnah with her suburbs, Nahalal with her suburbs; four cities.
Josh 21:36 And out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with her suburbs, and Jahazah with her suburbs,
Josh 21:37 Kedemoth with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs; four cities.
Josh 21:38 And out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Mahanaim with her suburbs,
Josh 21:39 Heshbon with her suburbs, Jazer with her suburbs; four cities in all.
Josh 21:40 So all the cities for the children of Merari by their families, which were remaining of the families of the Levites, were by their lot twelve cities.
These are all the cities given to the children of Merari, a total of 12.
Josh 21:41 All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs.
Josh 21:42 These cities were every one with their suburbs round about them: thus were all these cities.
Josh 21:43 And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.
Josh 21:44 And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
Josh 21:45 There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.
The sons of Levi were given 48 cities in all.. and as always, we see that all that God promised came to pass. You and I can depend upon God. It is impossible for Him to lie.
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