I’ve been reading recently in Deuteronomy. What a wonderful book! Israel had been in the wilderness for 40 years. About to enter the promised land, Moses was reminding them of what God had done for them and what He expected of them.
One of the recurring themes I noticed was God’s treatment of the Levites. As one of the twelve tribes of Israel, God set them aside to serve Him in a particular way. As one called to full-time service, I couldn’t help but identify with them.
God gave them specific duties. They were to take charge of the tabernacle and its furnishings, caring for it, setting it up, and tearing it down. No small task! They were also given other responsibilities, such as assisting the priests, teaching God’s law to the people, and acting as local judges.
I was particularly struck by several aspects of God’s relationship with the Levites. As a servant of God, do you identify with any of these points?
1. The other eleven tribes each received an area of land within Canaan to call their own—land that was to remain theirs forever. The Levites were given no land. The Lord repeatedly told them that He Himself was their inheritance (Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 10:8-9; 18:1-2; Joshua 13:33).
2. God brought the Levites near to Himself. That nearness, which was inherent in their work, was part of their privilege and reward (Numbers 16:9-10).
3. One of the duties of the Levites was to bless God’s people in His name. What a wonderful privilege! (Deuteronomy 10:8-9; 21:5)
4. God placed His servants, the Levites, at the very heart of His people. When they camped in the wilderness, the Levites were right in the middle of the camp, with the other tribes distributed around them (Numbers 1:47-54; 2:17). When they settled in the promised land, each of the other eleven tribes allocated certain cities for the Levites, so that the Levites were intentionally scattered among God’s people (Numbers 35:1-9).
5. Levites were also scattered among the various towns throughout the country, and the local people were to make charitable provision for them, just as they did for the widows, orphans, and aliens among them. Because the Levites had no land inheritance of their own, they were dependent on the charity of God’s people (Deuteronomy 12:12, 18-19; 14:27-29; 16:11, 14; 26:11-12).
God’s servants, the Levites, were privileged to bring God to the people and the people to God. They spoke God’s blessing on the people and taught the people about God and His ways. But as part of their calling, they were dependent on God more constantly and completely than His other people, and God made them dependent on the piety and generosity of His people.
Their inheritance was not houses or land or riches, but a special relationship with God Himself. God considered their service to Him, their close relationship with Him, and even their dependence on Him to be a profound privilege.
Reflect on all this. Does it help you understand how God treats you as His servant?