Joshua 21:1-45 (Part 1) – Where We Live, Work, Play….And Post to Social Media!

Posted: July 11, 2017 in 06-Joshua

Joshua 21:1-45 (Part 1 of 2)
The Towns Given to the Levites

Social media is a neat thing. It is a powerful thing. You can reach and stay in touch with friends that you rarely see around the corner, around the country, and around the globe. You can express your own unique personality in a public way that was once not afforded to anyone but those who could access national or regional media. We can tell the world what we like and dislike. We can show the world what we do every day. We can show the world our vacations while we are on vacation (instead of boring people to tears with slide shows and 8mm films like they did back in the 60s and 70s or with instant photographs like the 80s). Now with digital cameras and cameras in our phones and ubiquitous access to the world wide web, we can post pictures from wherever, whenever we want. We can post pictures of what we are doing instantaneously. It’s an instant access world now where whatever you do can be on social media within seconds. Whatever you think can be expressed in a post immediately – and unedited.

Social media is now the virtual neighborhoods in which we live. We have the ability to influence what other people think of us who never even hardly see us. For example, from social media, there are things that people can tell about me. First and foremost, most people know that I love the Bible and discussing what passages of the Bible mean for our daily lives. That’s my thing! People know that I am an corporate accountant. People know that I am a husband. People know that I am a huge Clemson fan. People know that I have a really oddball, corny, ironic, sometimes profound but mostly silly (fifteen year old boyish) sense of humor. These are things that you can know about me without even having ever met me because of my presence on Facebooks and WordPress, for example. You can gain an impression of the lifestyle that I live by the pictures I post and the things that I sound off about in my posts. You can tell what my political leanings are. You can tell all kinds of things about me by what I post.

It has long been a thing for me to think twice before I post something on social media. What impression am I making on people who look up to me as a leader in our church, as an employee of my church, as an employee in my secular company. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to hide who I am. With me, what you see is what you get. I have never really cared about what others think about me. It is too tiring to try to set forth an image to the world that is not really me. That is really a too great a burden to bear. Maybe, I am just getting older and with that age comes the desire not to have to work so hard to impress people. If you like me, you like me. If you don’t, well in the end, it just was not meant to be for us to be friends and we move on.

However, what I do concern myself with on social media is that I don’t want what I post or what I say on social media to be a stumbling block to someone finding Jesus Christ or say something that is in contrast to the beliefs of our Christian faith or to bring ill repute to Christ Himself by how I act and what I post on social media. Again, don’t the idea I am prudish or whatever. I have fun in life and on social media. Most people get a kick out of my quirky sense of humor and my “realness”. However, one thing to consider when you post something on social media as a Christian is how does this help or harm my witness to the world around me? Do my posts give the impression that I go to church on Sunday and live like hell the rest of the week. Can you tell any difference between my social media posts and those who thumb their nose up at God and live lifestyles of carnality and vanity on a daily basis? Can you tell a difference between me and a non-Christian in the things that I post about, shout about, pictorialize?

As a Christ follower, we each are sprinkled throughout the world and we live in the world on a daily basis. We live more in the world than we spend time at church! We are in the world on a daily basis. Can you and I be identified easily as a Christian? Do our posts on social media spew hate and drive people away from a relationship with Jesus Christ? Do our posts reflect a lifestyle that is not centered on understanding and meditating upon God’s Word? Do our posts reflect that we do not even understand what we believe in as a Christian? Do our posts more reflect what we are against as opposed to drawing people unto Christ? Do our posts reflect a hedonistic lifestyle but we clean up and dress up real nice for Sunday pictures? Do our posts reflect values that are of the world and in opposition to the Bible that we say we read but it is just easier to go along with culture?

We are sprinkled everywhere as Christians in our society and in every walk of life. Do people in your sphere of influence know that you are Christian? Can they tell it from your social media? Do you want to draw people unto Christ by your presence in your sphere of influence? These are questions I ask myself when I post on social media? I am sure there are times that I fail at answering that question in a Christ-like manner, but it is a question I ask myself before I post. What if social media was the only way that you could influence people for or against a relationship with Jesus Christ? And in some cases, that may well be true. We may be the only Christian a person knows and what they know of Christians can be limited to what they see you post in words and in pictures. We are more than just Sunday Christians. We are Christians every day. Let us make sure that we are little Christs in the communities in which we live. We want to draw people unto Christ not drive them away with hate, with inconsistency, with choices that are inconsistent with Scripture, and so on.

That was the thought that came to mind this morning when I was wondering why the Levite cities were spread across the whole nation. It was more than just a logistical thing. It was important to have a priestly influence in every area of the country. It was important for them to be nearby to everyday Joes and everyday Janes. Then that got me thinking about how Peter tells us that we are each priests to the world around us. We are sprinkled around the communities in which we all live. Then, that got me to thinking about how people can tell we are Christ followers or not. Then, that got me to thinking about the new medium of social media and how that gives people understanding of who we are, really. Ok, so it’s an audit trail of thinking things to get to why I wrote what I wrote after reading this passage, but I do think it is a logical trail. Let’s read the passage together now:

21 Now the family heads of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the other tribal families of Israel 2 at Shiloh in Canaan and said to them, “The Lord commanded through Moses that you give us towns to live in, with pasturelands for our livestock.” 3 So, as the Lord had commanded, the Israelites gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own inheritance:

4 The first lot came out for the Kohathites, according to their clans. The Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest were allotted thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin. 5 The rest of Kohath’s descendants were allotted ten towns from the clans of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan and half of Manasseh.

6 The descendants of Gershon were allotted thirteen towns from the clans of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.

7 The descendants of Merari, according to their clans, received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun.

8 So the Israelites allotted to the Levites these towns and their pasturelands, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.

9 From the tribes of Judah and Simeon they allotted the following towns by name 10 (these towns were assigned to the descendants of Aaron who were from the Kohathite clans of the Levites, because the first lot fell to them):

11 They gave them Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), with its surrounding pastureland, in the hill country of Judah. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) 12 But the fields and villages around the city they had given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession.

13 So to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Libnah, 14 Jattir, Eshtemoa, 15 Holon, Debir, 16 Ain, Juttah and Beth Shemesh, together with their pasturelands—nine towns from these two tribes.

17 And from the tribe of Benjamin they gave them Gibeon, Geba, 18 Anathoth and Almon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.

19 The total number of towns for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, came to thirteen, together with their pasturelands.

20 The rest of the Kohathite clans of the Levites were allotted towns from the tribe of Ephraim:

21 In the hill country of Ephraim they were given Shechem (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Gezer, 22 Kibzaim and Beth Horon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.

23 Also from the tribe of Dan they received Eltekeh, Gibbethon, 24 Aijalon and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.

25 From half the tribe of Manasseh they received Taanach and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands—two towns.

26 All these ten towns and their pasturelands were given to the rest of the Kohathite clans.

27 The Levite clans of the Gershonites were given:

from the half-tribe of Manasseh,

Golan in Bashan (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Be Eshterah, together with their pasturelands—two towns;

28 from the tribe of Issachar,

Kishion, Daberath, 29 Jarmuth and En Gannim, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

30 from the tribe of Asher,

Mishal, Abdon, 31 Helkath and Rehob, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

32 from the tribe of Naphtali,

Kedesh in Galilee (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Hammoth Dor and Kartan, together with their pasturelands—three towns.

33 The total number of towns of the Gershonite clans came to thirteen, together with their pasturelands.

34 The Merarite clans (the rest of the Levites) were given:

from the tribe of Zebulun,

Jokneam, Kartah, 35 Dimnah and Nahalal, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

36 from the tribe of Reuben,

Bezer, Jahaz, 37 Kedemoth and Mephaath, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

38 from the tribe of Gad,

Ramoth in Gilead (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Mahanaim, 39 Heshbon and Jazer, together with their pasturelands—four towns in all.

40 The total number of towns allotted to the Merarite clans, who were the rest of the Levites, came to twelve.

41 The towns of the Levites in the territory held by the Israelites were forty-eight in all, together with their pasturelands. 42 Each of these towns had pasturelands surrounding it; this was true for all these towns.

43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

In this passage, we see that the Levites were to minister on behalf of the people so they were given cities scattered through the land. Although center of the faith was first at Shiloh and then at Jerusalem which were each far away from most Israelites, almost no one lived more than a day’s journey from a Levitical city. Note that the striking thing about this list is that God wanted the Levites “sprinkled” all throughout the land of Israel. He never intended there to be one “state” of Levi, but every tribe was to have the priestly influence and presence in their midst. Though the Levites were scattered throughout the land of Israel, there was only one place in the land where they could assist in the service of the Tabernacle (and later, the Temple). When Israel got the possession of the Land of Canaan, they set up the Tabernacle first at Shiloh and later in the time of Solomon it was finally moved to Jerusalem where the portable structure was abandoned for the permanent Temple. But the greatest percent of the Levites did not perform services in the Temple. That building was simply too small for all of them to work there. Most Levites performed duties in other employments within the nation of Israel. The occupation of the Levites were in what we call professional fields today. Moses expected this to be the case. When collect all the OT references together this is what you would find that they did:

• They were ordained to be teachers of the nation (Deuteronomy 24:8; 33:10; 2 Chronicles 35:3; Nehemiah 8:7).

• They also represented many of the judges of the land, and in the time of Ezra they were the sole members of the Sanhedrin — the Supreme Court of the nation (Deuteronomy 17:8–9; 21:5; 1 Chronicles 23:4; 2 Chronicles 19:8; Ezekiel 44:15, 24)

• Most medical services were in their care (Leviticus 13:2, 14:2; Luke 17:14).

• They were professional singers and musicians (1 Chronicles 25:1–31; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 34:12).

• Producers of books and librarians were almost exclusively Levites (2 Chronicles 34:13).

• It may appear strange to some but even law enforcement was in their care (1 Chronicles 23:4) — they were the “sheriffs”.

• Many of the Levites were architects and builders (2 Chronicles 34:8–13).

As stated before, the Levites earned their living by becoming what we call “the professional people” of the community.

In the same manner, Christians (being priests, 1 Peter 2:5 and 2:9) are to be “sprinkled” all throughout the world and society. We are priests where we live. We are the church every day wherever we are. We are representatives of Christ by how we live, how we work, and how we play. As teachers, lawyers and judges, as doctors and nurses, as singers and musicians, as writers and librarians, as law enforcement officials, as architects and contractors, as accountants, as housewives, as church employees, as whatever you are, we are sprinkled everywhere. We are representative of Christ not only when we go to church and not only when we wear of LifeSong t-shirt (or the t-shirt of whatever church you go to). We are on stage every day. Sometimes, we are the only Christians that other people will ever encounter. What does my social media say to those people. What impression of Jesus Christ are we giving? Do I represent the forgiveness and redemption and truth of Jesus Christ well in how I post on social media?

Something for me think about. Something for you to think about. Think about be the Christian sprinkle that you are. We are sprinkled throughout the countryside. We are daily reminders locally and closely to others of who Jesus Christ is. It is geographical and and strategic that God places us where He places us. We are to be representatives of Jesus Christ…where we live, where we work, where we play, where we post!

Amen and Amen.

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