Introduction: Joshua 21 concludes the apportionment of the Promised Land and the lands east of the river Jordan. As God’s servants, the Levites received their inheritance only after all the other tribes had been provided for. Moreover, unlike the other tribes, the Levites did not receive assigned territories. They instead received 48 cities that were scattered throughout the lands occupied by the Jews. Their inheritance was in God. To the extent they had physical needs, their needs would be met through the other tribes. Every believer in Jesus is a priest for Him (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Thus, any lesson regarding His priests is relevant for believers today. From this chapter, He reveals seven important lessons for claiming your spiritual inheritance.
First, from the petition of the descendants of Levi for their inheritance, He reveals that you are commanded to seek your spiritual inheritance. For the Levites, their primary inheritance came from their relationship with God. As a priest for God, you are commanded to seek out your inheritance in the form of a relationship with Jesus. Second, from the limited land rights given to the Levites, you are commanded to live in the world but not of the world. Third, from the scattering amongst the tribes of Israel, you are likewise commanded to be scattered amongst God’s people to be a witness to them. Fourth, from the dependency of the Levites upon the tribes that they lived by, He reveals that you are to likewise be dependent upon Him through your brothers and sisters in Jesus. Fifth, the 48 cities given to the Levites symbolized their confirmed duty to be a source of refuge and protection to those in need. Six of these cities corresponded to the cities of refuge described in Joshua chapter 20. The remaining 42 cities corresponded to the 42 documented stations in the wilderness during the Jews’ journey to the Promised Land. You are likewise meant to be a refuge, a source of comfort, and a light for those trapped in the wilderness. Sixth, God offered the Jews rest from their struggles. Because conflict continued to exist within the Promised Land, this rest was a promise that Jesus would fulfill. He offers rest from the struggle for salvation. When you walk with Him, He also offers rest and peace from the turmoil that you may experience in the world. Finally, Joshua concludes the allotment of the lands by celebrating God’s faithfulness to keep His promises. To thank Jesus for what He has done for you, you should likewise celebrate His faithfulness toward you.
The petition of the descendants of Levi for their inheritance. After Joshua completed his apportionment of the land for the 12 tribes, the heads of the households for the descendants of Levi approached both Eleazar the High Priest and Joshua to claim their special inheritance: “1 Then the heads of households of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of households of the tribes of the sons of Israel. 2 They spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, ‘The Lord commanded through Moses to give us cities to live in, with their pasture lands for our cattle.’” (Josh. 21:1-2). Although the Levites also would live within the Promised Land, they gave up the blessing of a land inheritance for an even greater blessing that would come from a relationship with God: “Only to the tribe of Levi he did not give an inheritance; the offerings by fire to the Lord, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as He spoke to him.” (Josh. 13:14; 14:3). “The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the Lord’s offerings by fire and His portion. They shall have no inheritance among their countrymen; the Lord is their inheritance, as He promised them.” (Dt. 18:1-2; 10:9; 12:12; Nu. 18:20). Their blessing of a relationship with God would come from prayer, worship, serving, and helping others to atone for their sins at the Tabernacle.
Put your hope in Jesus’ inheritance1
If you choose Jesus as your inheritance, you will also be blessed. As a believer, you are a priest for God (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). Jesus is your High Priest (Heb. 4:14). To fulfill the Law regarding a priest’s inheritance, He lived without a permanent home (Matt. 8:20; Lk. 9:58). Like the Levities, He calls upon every believer to store up all forms of wealth (not just land) in heaven: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:19-20; Lk. 12:33). Like the Levites, He will also reward you with a relationship with Him as part of your inheritance: “And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel-- I am their possession.” (Ezek. 44:28). “The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.” (Ps. 119:57). “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.” (Ps. 16:5). “But you will be called the priests of the LORD; you will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs.” (Is. 61:6-7). The Holy Spirit is His down payment on your eternal inheritance: “who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” (2 Cor. 1:22). Also, when you act in one accord with your fellow believers for Christ, Jesus further gives part of His glory to you (Jo. 17:22). Thus, unlike the Jews, you have an inheritance of both land and a relationship with Jesus. He knocks at the door of every believer’s heart in the search for a deeper relationship with His people: ‘“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”’ (Rev. 3:20). Are you seeking out your spiritual inheritance in the form of a relationship with Jesus?
God will reward leaders when they put the needs of others first. By providing for the priests, God showed that He rewards His faithful servant leaders: “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” (1 Tim. 5:17). Yet, by waiting until the end to give the Levities their inheritance, He showed that a leader for God’s people places his own needs last after all other needs within the body have been met. Jesus likewise humbled Himself for others instead of seeking His own glory: “but [He] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:7-8; 2 Cor. 8:9; Matt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45; Lk. 22:27). Like Jesus, are you willing to lead by placing your own needs last after the needs of others have been met?
The limited land rights given to the tribe of Levi. Unlike the other tribes which received territories, God only gave the Levites small towns and limited pasture lands that were spread throughout the Promised Land and the areas east of the Jordan river: “3 So the sons of Israel gave the Levites from their inheritance these cities with their pasture lands, according to the command of the Lord.” (Josh. 21:3; Nu. 35:1-5). With a few exceptions, they lived within their own walled cities. (Nu. 35:5). In most cases, they did not live in cities with other tribes. If God wanted the Levites to be truly integrated, He could have simply had them all live with the other tribes. Likewise, if He had wanted the Levites to be completely separated from others, He could have had them live in their own territory. He instead chose the middle path for His priests. They needed to be a light to those around them. But they needed some separation from the world to avoid becoming led astray in their walk. Their lives were an example to all believers.
The limited land grants for God’s priests. The Levites were given cattle, goods, and land to provide for themselves (Nu. 35:3). He wanted them to be able to provide for themselves. Contrary to what some claim, He has nothing against owning private property. But He meant for the priests to live modestly. He put strict limits on their land surrounding their cities. The border around the Levite cities ranged between 1,000 to 3,000 cubits on each side (between 1,500 feet and 3,300 feet or 450 meters and 900 meters) (Nu. 35:4-5). Maimonides taught that the first 1,000 cubits were for the suburbs. The remaining 2,000 cubits were for grassing lands, farms, and vineyards. This effectively placed limits on the animal wealth that the Levites could accumulate from tithes. The size of their lands limited the number of animals that they could support. If they collected too much cattle from people’s tithes, the cattle would over-graze the land. This prevented the priests from becoming the dominant economic and political power. It also forced economic moderation on the priests. Centuries later, these lessons were lost on God’s people. When wealth later became derived predominantly from money and not animals, believers failed to look for comparable limits on the accumulation of wealth. There is no check today on how wealthy a church can become or how much a church might pay a pastor. For example, the Church of Latter Days Saints is estimated to be with in excess of $100 billion.2 Likewise, author Scott Thumma from Hartford Seminary, claims that the average megachurch income in 2007 was $6.5 million per year. But that number does not reveal how much they keep. The lesson is that the Church should set limits of some kind on its accumulation of wealth.
As God’s nation of priests, you should also live modestly. In addition to the Church, believers should also apply these lessons. Wealth, by itself, is not evil. Wealth can fund God’s ministries and provide for spouses, children, and even grandchildren at the time of a believer’s death (Prov. 13:22). But believers must also look for checks and balances on the wealth that they accumulate. Solomon once prayed that God would give him neither riches nor poverty because he knew the extreme of either would pull him off his walk: “Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion,” (Prov. 30:8). It is the love of money that is the root of many evils: “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim. 6:10). Has the desire to accumulate money or wealth become a snare in your life?
The scattered cities of the Levites. In addition to living modestly, the Levites would live in cities scattered throughout the other 12 tribes: “4 Then the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites. And the sons of Aaron the priest, who were of the Levites, received thirteen cities by lot from the tribe of Judah and from the tribe of the Simeonites and from the tribe of Benjamin. 5 The rest of the sons of Kohath received ten cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Ephraim and from the tribe of Dan and from the half-tribe of Manasseh. 6 The sons of Gershon received thirteen cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Issachar and from the tribe of Asher and from the tribe of Naphtali and from the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. 7 The sons of Merari according to their families received twelve cities from the tribe of Reuben and from the tribe of Gad and from the tribe of Zebulun. 8 Now the sons of Israel gave by lot to the Levites these cities with their pasture lands, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.” (Josh. 21:4-8). This fulfilled a prophecy that Jacob gave on his deathbed that the Levites would be “scattered” throughout the land: “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.” (Gen. 49:7). While this was originally meant as a curse for Levi’s sins, it became a blessing for Israel when the Levities gave up their lands to become servants to all the people. “By mixing the Levites with the other tribes, they were made to see that the eyes of all Israel were upon them, and therefore it was their concern to walk so that their ministry might not be blamed. Every tribe had its share of Levites’ cities.” (Matthew Henry on Joshua Chapter 21). Thus, God scatters believers to help them be both a light and a witness.
The cities given to the Levites3
God may scatter you amongst non-believers to make you a light to them. God also scattered believers amongst nonbelievers so that they can be an example and a light to them. Like the Levites, He scatters believers amongst non-believers in your neighborhood, your school, and your place of work. He does not want you locked away in a monastery where no one can see you: “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matt. 5:14(b)-15). You may be the only believer in your work environment in order to be His light to the lost or the brokenhearted. He wants you to be a witness to others. Yet, just as the Levities separated themselves, He also does not want believers to become yoked to non-believers and the things of the world (2 Cor. 6:14). He wants believers to help others, but only in the right context. For example, He would want you to help a non-believer who is distraught. But meeting alone with a person of the opposite gender over drinks is not the appropriate way to do that. Thus, you should help while also maintaining boundaries. Have you removed yourself from other people’s problems? Or, have you placed no boundaries in dealing with others? Are your words and your actions an advertisement for Jesus to the lost around you?
The 10 cities given to Kohath’s descendants. To show that He was faithful to keep His promises and that He remembers every single individual, He listed the 48 cities given to each of Levi’s three son’s descendants by name. The first to receive an inheritance were the descendants of Levi’s son Kohath. They were scattered into 10 cities across the tribes of Judah, Simeon, Benjamin, Ephraim, Dan, and the half-tribe of Manasseh in southern and central Israel: “9 They gave these cities which are here mentioned by name from the tribe of the sons of Judah and from the tribe of the sons of Simeon; 10 and they were for the sons of Aaron, one of the families of the Kohathites, of the sons of Levi, for the lot was theirs first. 11 Thus they gave them Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron), in the hill country of Judah, with its surrounding pasture lands. 12 But the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his possession. 13 So to the sons of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands, and Libnah with its pasture lands, 14 and Jattir with its pasture lands and Eshtemoa with its pasture lands, 15 and Holon with its pasture lands and Debir with its pasture lands, 16 and Ain with its pasture lands and Juttah with its pasture lands and Beth-shemesh with its pasture lands; nine cities from these two tribes. 17 From the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with its pasture lands, Geba with its pasture lands, 18 Anathoth with its pasture lands and Almon with its pasture lands; four cities. 19 All the cities of the sons of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their pasture lands. 20 Then the cities from the tribe of Ephraim were allotted to the families of the sons of Kohath, the Levites, even to the rest of the sons of Kohath. 21 They gave them Shechem, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands, in the hill country of Ephraim, and Gezer with its pasture lands, 22 and Kibzaim with its pasture lands and Beth-horon with its pasture lands; four cities. 23 From the tribe of Dan, Elteke with its pasture lands, Gibbethon with its pasture lands, 24 Aijalon with its pasture lands, Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands; four cities. 25 From the half-tribe of Manasseh, they allotted Taanach with its pasture lands and Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands; two cities. 26 All the cities with their pasture lands for the families of the rest of the sons of Kohath were ten.” (Josh. 21:9-26). This distribution is partially retold in the book of Chronicles: “Then to the rest of the sons of Kohath were given by lot, from the family of the tribe, from the half-tribe, the half of Manasseh, ten cities.” (1 Chr. 6:61). “Now some of the families of the sons of Kohath had cities of their territory from the tribe of Ephraim.” (1 Chr. 6:66). The Kohath tribe was required to protect “the most holy things.” (Nu. 4:4). This included the ark, the lamp stand, the utensils, and the screen for the Tent of Meeting (Nu. 3:25-32). Thus, it made sense for this tribe to be located in central and southern Israel near the Tabernacle. They played a central role in the Jews’ worship. Although the Kohath tribe played a central role in worship, Kohath was not Levi’s firstborn son. He was the second son (Gen. 46:11). This shows that God is not limited by human institutions like birth order in selecting His servants. You can serve Him no matter what lies in your past. He promises to forget your sins: “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.” (Is. 43:25; Heb. 8:12; Ro. 8:1). Have you used the sins of your past as an excuse for refusing to serve Him?
The 13 cities given to Gershon’s descendants. The second tribe of Levi to receive an inheritance were the descendants of Levi’s son Gershon. They were scattered into 13 cities across the tribes of Issachar, Asher, and Naphtali in northern Israel: “27 To the sons of Gershon, one of the families of the Levites, from the half-tribe of Manasseh, they gave Golan in Bashan, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands, and Be-eshterah with its pasture lands; two cities. 28 From the tribe of Issachar, they gave Kishion with its pasture lands, Daberath with its pasture lands, 29 Jarmuth with its pasture lands, En-gannim with its pasture lands; four cities. 30 From the tribe of Asher, they gave Mishal with its pasture lands, Abdon with its pasture lands, 31 Helkath with its pasture lands and Rehob with its pasture lands; four cities. 32 From the tribe of Naphtali, they gave Kedesh in Galilee, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands and Hammoth-dor with its pasture lands and Kartan with its pasture lands; three cities. 33 All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their pasture lands.” (Josh. 21:27-33). This distribution is also partially retold in the book of Chronicles: “To the sons of Gershom were given, from the family of the half-tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan with its pasture lands and Ashtaroth with its pasture lands;” (1 Chr. 6:71). At the beginning of the journey to the Promised Land, the tribe of Gershon had 7,500 people (Nu. 3:22). The tribe of Gershon had the responsibility for carrying the screen for the doorway to the tent of meeting (Nu. 3:25-26). The screen to the doorways kept God’s consuming fire from destroying sinful and corrupt people. Gershon was Levi’s firstborn (Gen. 46:11). His descendants had to humble themselves by serving the tribes of the flesh in northern Israel. In a similar way, God sometimes has to humble believers with unglamorous assignments as they serve Him. Are you willing to serve Him in places where you may never be noticed by others for your service?
The 12 cities given to Merari’s descendants. The third and final tribe of Levi to receive an inheritance was the descendants of Levi’s son Merari. They were scattered into 12 cities across the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Zebulun, and the half tribe of Manasseh, which were all in Jordan with the one exception of Zebulun: “34 To the families of the sons of Merari, the rest of the Levites, they gave from the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its pasture lands and Kartah with its pasture lands. 35 Dimnah with its pasture lands, Nahalal with its pasture lands; four cities. 36 From the tribe of Reuben, they gave Bezer with its pasture lands and Jahaz with its pasture lands, 37 Kedemoth with its pasture lands and Mephaath with its pasture lands; four cities. 38 From the tribe of Gad, they gave Ramoth in Gilead, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands and Mahanaim with its pasture lands, 39 Heshbon with its pasture lands, Jazer with its pasture lands; four cities in all. 40 All these were the cities of the sons of Merari according to their families, the rest of the families of the Levites; and their lot was twelve cities.” (Josh. 21:34-40). This distribution is also partially retold in the book of Chronicles: “To the sons of Merari were given by lot, according to their families, from the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.” (1 Chr. 6:63). “To the rest of the Levites, the sons of Merari, were given, from the tribe of Zebulun: Rimmono with its pasture lands, Tabor with its pasture lands;” (1 Chr. 6:77). The tribe of Meri carried the bars, pillars, the sockets, pegs, cords, and other equipment to hold up the tabernacle (Nu. 3:36-37). They had the necessary but unglamorous role of carrying the parts that held the Tabernacle together. Meri was Levi’s third son. Just as Meri was called to serve the carnal believers who lived outside the Promised Land, believers today are to be a light out to the carnal Christians who rarely attend church.
The Levites’ dependence upon the tribes around them. God’s system not only ensured that the Levites would be a light to the tribes, it also ensured that they would depend upon them. Like a tithe to support a church, these cities came as an offering from each tribe: “So the sons of Israel gave to the Levites the cities with their pasture lands.” (1 Chr. 6:64). Like believers today, God meant for the tribes to give in proportion to that which God had given them: “As for the cities which you shall give from the possession of the sons of Israel, you shall take more from the larger and you shall take less from the smaller; each shall give some of his cities to the Levites in proportion to his possession which he inherits.” (Nu. 35:8). Yet, just like in normal life, some gave more than others: “Naphtali was at this time larger than both Ephraim and Gad (see the census count of Num. 26), yet it yields only three towns. On the other hand, though Issachar and Dan are larger than Ephraim, they all yield the same number of cities.” (Marten Woudstra, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Joshua (William Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1981) p. 307). Because of the limits imposed upon the land that they could own around each city (Nu. 35:4-5), they could not sustain themselves without the help of their host tribes. For example, God gave the Gershom tribe the central city of Hebron. “To the sons of Aaron they gave the following cities of refuge: Hebron, Libnah also with its pasture lands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its pasture lands,” (1 Chr. 6:57; Josh. 21:11). This same city was also one of the six cities of refuge (Josh. 20:7). But He previously gave this city to the descendants of Caleb (Josh. 14:15; 15:13). Here, He clarified that Caleb’s descendants received the surrounding towns and agricultural land. “12 But the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his possession.” (Josh. 21:12). Because the agricultural land was vital in that time to the survival of a city, this meant that the Gershom descendants in Hebron could not survive and run the city of refuge without assistance from Caleb’s descendants. The two groups were dependent upon each other. In a similar way, believers are not meant to be completely self-reliant and independent from each other. They are instead meant to be both in fellowship with one another: “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25). They are also meant to be dependent upon one another the way they were during the time of the early Church: “and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” (Acts 2:45). Are you dependent upon other believers? Are you helping to support the full time servants of the Church with your time, talents, and treasure?
The hidden meaning behind the 48 cities given to the Levites. In total, God gave the Levites 48 cities and the pasture lands that surrounded them: “41 All the cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the sons of Israel were forty-eight cities with their pasture lands. 42 These cities each had its surrounding pasture lands; thus it was with all these cities.” (Josh. 21:41-42). “All the cities which you shall give to the Levites shall be forty-eight cities, together with their pasture lands.” (Nu. 35:7). Six cities were the cities of refuge described previously in Joshua Chapter 20. The remaining 42 general cities were spread throughout Israel and the lands east of the Jordan river. They corresponded to the 42 stations in the wilderness between Egypt and Jordan (Nu. 33:3-49). They also corresponded to the 42 listed names in the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus (Matt. 1:1-17). The Levites were meant to be a light to those around them. They also needed to be a source of protection for the rights of the accused. God also wants you to be an example and a light to others. He does not want you to be locked away in a monastery where no one can see you (Matt. 5:14(b)-15). He spread out the Levites to “teach [God’s] ordinances to Jacob.” (Dt. 33:10). If they were concentrated in their own territory they could not do this easily. You are likewise commanded to teach the Word to those around you. You should also share the lessons from your own road to redemption, your road to Emmaus where you met Jesus (Lk. 24:13-35). Many people are still walking in circles in the wilderness looking for a way out. They symbolize your duty to be a source of light and refuge to people in distress wherever they are (Matt. 25:36). By your words and your deeds, are you a light to those trapped in the wilderness around you?
God’s promise of peace or rest given for the Jews. Finally, for all who believed in faith and elected to live in the Promised Land, God promised the reward of peace and rest from war: “43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand.” (Josh. 21:43-44). This repeated a promise that God had previously given to Joshua: “Then the land had rest from war.” (Josh. 14:15(b)). He also gave this promise to Moses: “And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’” (Ex. 33:14). “When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security,” (Dt. 12:10). But He had also told the Jews that further wars were needed to drive out five nations of Canaanites and Philistines who still remained in the Promised Land (Josh. 13:2-7). The promise of rest and peace was also contingent upon their compliance with His Law: “You shall thus observe My statutes and keep My judgments, so as to carry them out, that you may live securely on the land.” (Lev. 25:18). If they rebelled, He would lift His hedge of protection. Moreover, in some cases, God would allow future conflict for the righteous when it was part of His greater plan. Nevertheless, even though the Jews had not escaped all conflict, they symbolically entered into His rest at this point in history by observing the Passover and the Seder from a place of rest and comfort (Jo. 13:23). This also pointed to Jesus, the Passover lamb (Jo. 1:29). During His future reign as the Messiah over Israel, there will be true peace throughout the lands.
Jesus’ offer of peace to all believers. Jesus offers the peace that surpasses all understanding: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7). Your peace in the eternal Promised Land is available only because of His sacrifice at the cross: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . ” (Rom. 5:1). “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, . . .” (Eph. 2:13-15). “[W]e have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:1). His definition of peace is different from the world’s definition: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Jo. 14:27). The peace that comes from God does not prevent stressful things from happening. It is instead the ability to stay calm, collected and happy in the face of adversity. In other words, God will not give you peace by changing your surroundings. He will give you peace by changing your response to your surroundings. But this kind of peace requires that God burn away your selfish desires. In heaven, He also promises rest from all struggle and conflict. If you are lacking peace, are you turning to Jesus and trusting in Him to solve your conflicts and bring you peace and rest?
God’s faithfulness in keeping His Promises. Finally, after Joshua completed the allotment of the land, he gave praise that God was faithful to keep all of His promises to the patriarchs more than 400 years earlier: “45 Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” (Josh. 21:45). On many prior occasions, God promised these lands for the Jews: “For all the land which you see [Abraham], to you will I give it, and to your seed forever ... for I will give it unto you.” (Gen. 13:15, 17). “I am the LORD that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give thee this land to inherit it.” (Gen. 15:4-7). “For you are about to cross the Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall possess it and live in it,” (Dt. 11:31; 17:14). “This is the land which I swore unto Abraham, ... saying, I will give it unto your seed.” (Dt. 34:4). “To you I will give the land of Canaan, as your allotted inheritance.” (Ps. 105:8-11). “You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give him the land of the Canaanite, of the Hittite and the Amorite, of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite-- To give it to his descendants. And You have fulfilled Your promise, for You are righteous.” (Neh. 9:8). The fact that God was faithful to keep His promises to the Jews means that you can also trust His promises to you. He is faithful to keep all His promises in the Bible: “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (1 Thess. 5:24). “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9). When you accept Christ as Lord and Savior, He promises to take you to the eternal Promised Land (Jo. 3:16). If you are grateful for the price that He paid for your salvation, what are you doing with your life to thank Him? (Ro. 12:1).
Trust in God’s faithfulness4
Give thanks that your spiritual inheritance cannot be taken away. In addition to fulfilling His promises, God gave His priests a permanent right to keep their houses: “As for cities of the Levites, the Levites have a permanent right of redemption for the houses of the cities which are their possession.” (Lev. 25:32). “Command the sons of Israel that they give to the Levites from the inheritance of their possession cities to live in; and you shall give to the Levites pasture lands around the cities.” (Nu. 35:2). Jesus also has promised you a permanent right to a dwelling in the eternal city: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (Jo. 14:2). If you truly believe Jesus to be your Lord and Savior and confess Him as such, your inheritance cannot be taken away: “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Ro. 10:9-10). “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (Jo. 10:28). “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (Jo. 6:37). Are you giving Him praise for your unearned gift?
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