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The portion of the Levites forms the particular heads of this chapter: eight and forty cities in number are assigned to them; and the chapter closes with an observation on God's faithfulness in the fulfillment of his promises.
I cannot pass over these verses, which bring before us the claim of the Levites, without desiring the Reader to attend to those two things, First, though the Lord had graciously promised Levi to be his portion and consequently would provide for him yet Levi is to ask it. "For these things, saith the Lord" concerning all spiritual as well as temporal blessings, "I will be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." Ezekiel 36:37 . And secondly, Levi, though brought near to the Lord, to minister before him, is the last to be supplied in the church of God. Oh! that the ministers of Jesus would always keep this in remembrance. As servants at their Lord's table, the children ought first to be served; and a kind and generous master will never let them go unremembered. Here again, as in all other instances, dearest Jesus, how doth thy precious person go before us in all the loveliness of example, when thou camest not to be administered unto, but to minister, and to give thy life a ransom for many. Methinks I hear those words of Jesus vibrate in my ears, I am among you as one that serveth. Matthew 20:26-28 ; Luke 22:27 .
Out of their inheritance, means that the Levites were to be settled in the midst of their brethren, their office of ministering before the Lord, made it necessary that every tribe should be near the Levites. Sweet type this of the presence of Jesus in the midst of his people. It was the promise of the Old Testament, that God would dwell in the midst of his people. Zechariah 2:10 . And Jesus, who is the promise itself in the new, assured his people of his being always with them, even to the end of the world. Matthew 28:20 .
I include all these verses in one point of view for the sake of shortness. If the Reader be desirous to look at them more particularly, he will discover how admirably they were all arranged and disposed of, so as to scatter the Levites over the whole land. And herein he will discover how great a correspondence this dispersion of God's servants in the old church, bore to the dispersion of God's servants in the new, when Jesus sent his disciples forth to preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15 . If the Reader be curious to remark the division of the Levites further, he may observe, that there were four divisions of the Levites, and that they were placed according to the divine appointment. The first of the house of Aaron, which were the priests; the second the Kohathites, which were Levites; the third was the sons of Gershon, the eldest son of Levi; and the fourth the Merarites his youngest. But what I conceive to be much more important for the Reader ' s attention, in the provision made for all the house of Aaron, was the typical representation it afforded of the gospel church in the interest it holds, in the person of our great and Almighty High Priest, to whom Aaron ministered. Doth not the peculiar reservation, made for this tribe of Levi, of whom it is expressly again and again said, Levi hath no part with his brethren, for the Lord is his portion, doth it not in effect say, that Jesus is the alone portion of his people, who are in him a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people? And is not the circumstance of their being scattered over all the tribes, a figure of the dispersion of Jesus's priests who are made kings and priests to God and the Father? And in the Lord himself dwelling among them as their portion, is there not a beautiful similitude of the everlasting presence of Jesus, amidst his spiritual Levites? Hail! thou Lord God of the true Hebrews: thou priest of the order of Melchisedeck! Grant me, Lord, a portion in thyself, in the true Canaan of thy gospel church here below, as a pledge of being forever in thy church of Canaan which is above. And do thou consecrate and set me a part by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, and the anointings of the Holy Ghost, as thy servant to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 .
These verses contain a beautiful summary of God's faithfulness to his people. He had now accomplished what he had said. He had given them Canaan, brought them to his holy mountain, divided to them their several portions, driven out all their enemies before them, and now appeals, as it were, to their own consciences, whether that precious character, in which he had revealed himself to them, and in which Jehovah himself seemed to glory, in that of a faithful God, was not most fully confirmed. Deuteronomy 7:9 . And, Reader! while contemplating God's faithfulness, to his covenant engagements to Israel, fail not to connect with it, the certain confirmation of the same glorious character to Israel now. God is faithful, (saith Paul) who hath called us to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ. Sweet relief to the soul of the believer under all his own unfaithfulness and unbelief. 1Co 1:9 ; 2 Timothy 2:13 .
DEAREST Jesus! cause me to, learn from hence thy tender care of thy more immediate servants. Thy Levites shall be well provided for, whom thou hast set apart to thy service. And if they have no portion among their brethren, is it not, because thou thyself art their portion? And though to the eyes of an unfeeling world, some of thy most faithful labourers are sent without scrip or shoes as thy first disciples, yet having thee for their portion, they lack nothing, but are full and abound. Oh! let me learn from hence to reverence thy servants, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake, and for the sake of their ever-blessed Master.
Pause, my soul! and remark the faithfulness of Jehovah to his people. And if there failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to Israel, but all came to pass; will not this prompt thee to believe thy God to be faithful to thee also? Will not God thy Father fulfil all his covenant promises? Will not thy Jesus be still Jesus in all his love and favor? And will not the Holy Ghost continue his faithful influences, in directing thy heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Jesus Christ? Oh! for faith in lively exercise to believe God's word: to trust him now in the moment of trial, and not to hesitate, until it be seen, how things will go. Is he not still the holy one of Israel? And hath not all the faithful gone before, bore testimony to his faithfulness and truth? Oh! sweet thought! Blessed be the Holy Ghost for teaching it to the church: if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot, he will not deny himself. Lord! in this firm persuasion let me live; and in this assured hope may I die.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany