Joshua 13:24-33  Fulfilling our call as Evangelists and Intercessors

Joshua 13:24-33

24 Moses also gave an inheritance to the tribe of Gad, to the sons of Gad, according to their families. 25 Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the sons of Ammon, as far as Aroer which is before Rabbah; 26 and from Heshbon as far as Ramath- mizpeh and Betonim, and from Mahanaim as far as the border of Debir; 27 and in the valley, Beth- haram and Beth- nimrah and Succoth and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, with the Jordan as a border, as far as the lower end of the Sea of Chinnereth beyond the Jordan to the east. 28 This is the inheritance of the sons of Gad according to their families, the cities and their villages.
29 Moses also gave an inheritance to the half- tribe of Manasseh; and it was for the half- tribe of the sons of Manasseh according to their families. 30 Their territory was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities; 31 also half of Gilead, with Ashtaroth and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were for the sons of Machir the son of Manasseh, for half of the sons of Machir according to their families.
32 These are the territories which Moses apportioned for an inheritance in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan at Jericho to the east. 33 But to the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give an inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He had promised to them.

Background

The inheritance of land is given to descendants by their ancestors. Inheritances serve both as security, as well as a means to perpetuate the traditions and legacies of the forefathers. However, the tribe of Levi unlike the other tribes of Israel was not given land as inheritance. Instead, their inheritance was hidden in God until a time when Christ establishes His kingdom on earth. The Levites’ inheritance was given in a form of a calling – the ministry of priesthood and intercession to be handed down from generations to generations. In today’s devotion, we see the Levites as an antecedent of New Covenant believers whose inheritances are not found in bank accounts or in title deeds, but in the calling to serve God as evangelists and intercessors.

Observation

Moses also gave an inheritance to the tribe of Gad,… Moses also gave an inheritance to the half- tribe of Manasseh,

The tribe of Gad was allotted the central portion of the region, in the original land of Gilead. The allotment to the half-tribe of Manasseh (East Manasseh) was the rich tableland of Bashan. Was Gad and Manasseh’s decision to settle in the Transjordan a wise one? As you can see from the map below, the land allotted to East Manasseh, Gad and Reuben had no natural boundaries to protect them from enemies from the east. Unlike the Cisjordan to the west which had the River Jordan as their natural boundary, they were constantly exposed to threats from the Moabites, Arabians, Midianites, and Amalekites. As we know it, the two and a half tribes were the first to be taken to exile by Pul king of Assyria (see 1 Chronicles 5:26).

15-12tribes_map

But to the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give an inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance,…

In contrast with the rich inheritances of these tribes, the tribe of Levi received no earthly inheritance. Therefore, apart from the tribe of Levi, all 12 tribes of Israel received their allotment of lands. What did Levi receive as their rightful inheritance? They received the following:

  • Inheritance of offerings made by fire (see Joshua 13:14)
  • Inheritance of priesthood (see Joshua 18:7)
  • Inheritance of the Lord Himself (see Joshua 13:33)

The first two inheritances pertained to the calling to serve God. Offerings made by fire at the tabernacle brought a soothing aroma which gave Moses divine favor to meet with God and speak to Him (see Exodus 29:41-42). Offerings made by fire is effectively the ministry of intercession; it invokes God’s mercies and forbearance towards sinful man to find help in times of need. Through the ministry of offerings made by fire, the Levites bore the ministry of intercession by calling upon God’s mercies and forbearance on behalf of Israel. The Levites also functioned as priests whose ministry was to bring sinful man into reconciliation with God. Therefore, by these two inheritances, the tribe of Levi was granted a special portion in God’s kingdom.

The third inheritance concerns divine security and a godly legacy; for the Levites, the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance. Although they possessed no land on earth, their land is allotted to them in the heavenly kingdom. Similarly, in the New Covenant, the believers’ inheritances were hidden with Christ in God waiting to be revealed: For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4. The word “Hidden” infers delayed possession. Therefore, the apostle Paul said concerning inheritances, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2).  When the time comes for Christ to possess His inheritances, all believers will share in Christ’s inheritances and glory.

Therefore, as the Levites’ inheritance was God Himself, the Levites were truly God’s possession being heirs of all that belongs to God. The same was said concerning New Covenant believers: you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, 1 Peter 2:9. Note this: the way inheritances were apportioned to the tribe of Levi served as an antecedent to the nature of New Covenant promises. Through the Levites, God was in fact showing Old Covenant believers how New Covenant believers live. Besides having special access into the presence of God through the Spirit, New Covenant believers also function as priests bringing sinners into God’s kingdom. And their inheritances were not earthly or temporal but hidden with Christ eternally in heaven.

Truth

Decisions concerning migration must be made upon God’s calling and bidding only.

The tribes Reuben, Gad and East Manasseh decide to settle into the land because it’s conducive to their livestock.

Now the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad had an exceedingly large number of livestock. So when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that it was indeed a place suitable for livestock, Numbers 32:1.

Having made up their minds, they spoke to Moses and requested for the land to be allotted to them. As we know it, because of the vulnerability of their geography, they were later exiled to Assyria and their inheritance lost forever. Another classic example was Lot who picked all the valley of Jordan out of pragmatic concerns: Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. Genesis 13:10. Lot, later had to pay dearly for the loss of his wife and daughters because he made decisions out of pragmatic concerns and did not seek God’s calling or bidding.

I know of churchgoers making plans to migrate, some due to cultural preferences, and some are looking for a more comfortable life. Wearied by the rigors of life, they are desperate for an easier life, being mesmerised by dreams of bliss that await them on the other side. Hence, they could not constrain their compulsion nor submit themselves to God’s wisdom and purview. As it turned out, many followed their desires and lost precious years incurring traumatic changes to their lives.

God sees decades ahead of what we can see and knows where to plant us so that we can accomplish our calling. A man’s calling is closely associated with his homeland. Abraham, in order to fulfill his calling, had to leave his homeland to a place that God would show him. To fulfill their calling, the Israelites had to leave Egypt to the land called Canaan across the Jordan River. Even though Joseph had spent most of his life in Egypt, he wanted to have his bones returned to Canaan. Today, we see a trend of Jewish people scattered in many parts of the world returning to Israel to fulfill their calling as a nation of Jews. When a man strays from God’s will and removes himself from his God-ordained place, he risks losing his calling and inheritance. It is important to note the two decisions that affect a person’s calling (positively or negatively) and that which possess far-reaching and wide-ranging consequences are – marriage and migration.

It is an honor and privilege to serve God through our calling.

Believers must count it an honor and privilege to be called into service for God’s purposes. Why was priesthood and offering by fire (ministry of intercession) considered as inheritances? Because these roles as compared to all other roles are given utmost honor. The ministry of priesthood and intercession are so sacred, they cannot be delegated by man, but called and appointed by God. Jesus was appointed as Priest of Melchizedek who gave Himself as an offering. In the New Covenant, all believers are called to the priesthood and do the work of an intercessor.

Therefore, having understood the believer’s inheritances, we must not be distracted by the busyness of life, and the pursuit of wealth and earthly assets. The Levites had no earthly assets to call their own apart from their calling and yet God preserved them. The inheritances given to the Levites spoke of the New Covenant inheritance hidden in Christ. Hence, the inheritance of the Levites mirrors the calling of the New Covenant believer.

What is the ministry of the priesthood? The priesthood is a ministry that serves as a connecting bridge between God and sinners, specifically – the ministry of an evangelist. Most believers are opportunistic in this aspect; they will not share the gospel with another until they are asked to. The apostle Paul charged Timothy: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction… be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:2,5. The work of an evangelist is not opportunistic or occasional; it’s a calling.

What is the ministry of offering by fire? It serves to intercede for those in need by administering healing and forgiveness. There are those who sought God but were hindered in their pursuit because of external circumstances. Such have been rifled in wounds, their bodies riddled with multiple setbacks that they dare not take another step. The intercessor patiently binds up the wounds and restore their confidence towards God through kindness and faithfulness. Here, the intercessor administers the grace of inner healing to close up the wounds of hurt and guilt. He breaks the spiritual and emotional bondage of poverty and self-hate. He imbues hope and restores dreams to live again. The intercessor endures hardship to reach out to those who have not seen the light of day. Such is the calling of a New Covenant believer.

Application

Are you likened to a Levite whose heart is set on the inheritances in heaven? Or do you belong to the two and a half tribes who set their hearts after earthly pursuits? Some times God takes away our earthly possessions so that He may redirect your affections to the things above. Make a decision to set your minds on things above by fulfilling your call as an evangelist and intercessor. Be intentional in doing two things:

  • Go out of your way to help another by offering a listening ear and to do acts of kindness. Reach out to the lonely by initiating a conversation with them.
  • Initiate and offer to pray for those who are struggling with hard to solve problems. Lay hands on the sick and heal them. Impart the peace of the Spirit into their hearts. Prophesy into their lives with the promises of God.
  • When asked, “Why are you doing this?”, explain the gospel and invite them to experience the grace and the forgiveness of Christ.

Dear Lord, I redirect my focus to the inheritances in heaven. I know that as I walk in your will and fulfill my calling as an evangelist and intercessor, your blessing and favor will not be far. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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