Rest from our struggles

Joshua 21

Jerry A Collins




*               Why did God scatter the Levites all throughout the nation?

*               What was the responsibility of the Levites in the nation?

*               How did receiving their own cities assist in doing their work?


The other day I was walking around the yard and noticing all of the new growth taking place in it. Once again I took note of the dandelions I would need to uproot with shovel and pail lest they multiply their presence. On the patio were some purple colored flowers that made their way through the cracks between the bricks migrating from other places in the yard. The yearly encroachment of seeds and weeds which will come to stay if allowed. Making their presence knowntheir impact felt. In a similar type way, God scattered a tribe all throughout His nation when He planted His people in Canaan. A tribe that God designed to make a differencewield an influence that would be essential for the people of His nation. That tribe was the tribe of Levi. This scattering of the tribe of Levi among the others fulfilled Jacobs prophecy on Levi for his senseless murder along with bro Simeon of the Shechemites (Gen 49:5-7). However, God overruled in case of Levis descendents to preserve their tribal identity and then make them a blessing to Israel. The reason was because they stood with Moses at a critical time (Ex 32:26) and also because Phineas, a levite, vindicated Gods righteous name in plains of Moab (Num 25).


1-2 Here the tribe of Levi finally steps forward to claim their territory. This is the last allotment to take place. Moses had promised an allotment to them in Num 35.

3-8 The distribution of the territory is according to the three main branches of the tribe of Levi. These correspond to the three sons of Levi, Kohath, Gershon and Merari. First we have a synopsis of the distribution to these three families. Then we have a detailed explanation of this in 9-40. Eventually the allotment included 48 cities plus the six cities of refuge mentioned in Joshua 20. In vs 4-5 the sons of Kohath were given twenty-three cities from six different tribes. In vs 6 the sons of Gershon received thirteen cities from four of the tribes. In vs 7 the sons or Merari were givHoen twelve cities from three different tribal territories. Then verse eight concludes: These cities and their pasture lands the people of Israel gave by lot to the Levites as the Lord had commanded thru Moses. Of these three sons, the Kohahites were more prominent and had the most cities assigned to them. The reason was because Moses and Aaron were sons of Kohath. So the Aaronic priesthood came from this branch of the Levites. Since they were to be spiritual leaders of the nation at large, the Levites were trans-tribal not bound by any borders or boundaries. It was clear they did not own these cities or the grazing land surrounding them. The cities and land would provide for them but they were to focus on the spiritual influence they were to have amongst the people.

(1) That influence included the worship life of the nation. They had served this way throughout the wilderness encampment as they ministered in the tabernacle, transported the ark of the covenant from place to place, maintained the tabernacle structure & furniture. But now the tabernacle would stay put in Shiloh being a central location for the nation as a whole. Eventually it would be moved to Jerusalem and then replaced by the Temple. But worship would go on in every stage and in each place. The worship of the nation, the sacrificial offerings, the feats and festivals of the people, the musical worship, the psalms and hymns of praise heard and sungall of it designed to deal with the sin problem of the people. But now they were supposed to be scattered all throughout the territories. God did not want them siting around Shiloh or even later in Jerusalem. Their everyday lives in their communities were to be an influence of worship among the people so that as they traveled back and forth to fulfill their duties they would be a constant reminder to all the others of their need to produce devote worship to their Lord and King. That God was worthy of the affection of His people. Is that what people perceive when you rub shoulders with their lives? Is this what other believers are influenced by when you serve in some capacity?

(2) That influence included teaching the people the Law of God. Moses in his final blessing of the tribes had said to Levi in Deut 33:10 He teaches Your precepts to Jacob and Your Law to Israel. First, they were to instruct the people where they lived in the Law of the Lord so that the knowledge of Gods Word would be maintained among the people of the nation. The Levite cities in the north and the east were placed there as deterrants against idolatry that could easily infiltrate from Tyre & Sidon and from the Midianites, Ammonites and Moabites. So all of the nation had someone near enough who knew the Law of God that they could easily visit and get advice, counsel and instruction. It was essential that the nation stay faithful to the Law of God in all areas of their lives because their propensity to stray and forget God would forfeit the privileges they enjoyed in covenant with God. Today, we are to influence one another with instruction from the Word of God. It is good to be part of several groups of Christians as long as they groups honor the Word of God in teaching and practice. We should become the teacher and leaders that keep Gods Word and His work foremost among His people. Unfortunately we know that the influence of the Levites diminished over time. They do not seem to have lived up to their potential nor fulfill the mission God had given them. Idolatry and corruption eventually spread throughout the nation and even the priesthood became corrupted until God had to judge His nation and people. Even though God ensures a spiritual influence among His people, that is no guarantee that the influence will produce what it was designed too. Just because the body of Christ teaches the Bible, prays, sings, meets guarantees devote believers but God will ensure His spiritual influence anyway.


Looking back at beginning, then summarizing the conquest and division of land, emphasizes Gods faithfulness in all of it. It has been quite a task. Yet he affirms:

(1) That God is faithful vs 43. He gave Israel the land, kept the covenant.

(2) That God gave victory over their enemies and then gave them rest vs 44. Unbelievable 40 yrs ago, now has come to pass. Amazing!

(3) That God keeps His promises vs 45. There is still territory that tribes need to possess and while Israelites lived there many Canaanites still did too. There was still much trouble ahead and tragedies that would develop during the judges and the Kings. But those would be Israels fault, not Gods. They now had rest from war and for us today it is contentment. What is that?

1. It is not getting what we like but liking what we get. 2. It is making the most out of the least.

3. It is not connected to where you are but who you are.

4. It realizes God has given me everything right now I need for my present happiness.