Joshua 21:1-45 (Part 2) – It’s Getting Here As Fast As It Can…Bank on It!

Posted: July 12, 2017 in 06-Joshua

Joshua 21:1-45 (Part 2 of 2)

The Towns Given to the Levites

Sometimes, we forget to enjoy the journey. We are so hellbent on getting to our goal that we forget to enjoy the moment. Sometimes in waiting for a goal to be fulfilled, we forget to enjoy the precious moments along the journey that taught us so much. Sometimes, we get angry and frustrated because it taking God so long to fulfill the promises that we believe He has made to us. Sometimes, the journey to the promise is the thing that God is teaching us.


When I look back on six years ago when I felt for the call to ministry, I almost immediately enrolled in seminary. I enjoyed all three years of seminary en route to my Master of Christian Ministry (MCM) degree. For some reason though, upon walking across the stage at graduation, I expected some church, some parachurch organization, some non-profit, or even my own church to be waiting on the other side with the gift that I had been waiting on. A chance to prove myself in full-time ministry. However, nothing happened immediately. I began to wonder and wander. But a part-time opportunity came up at my church that seemed to be the dream come true. I would work part-time there (in addition to my staying at my regular job) for a small monthly salary (it was nominal but that was not the point – I was on staff). The promise was that it would become a full-time job as a pastor of discipleship and administration at some point in the future when the money for the church was there consistently to be able to support an additional full-time salary. Budgets are always tight at our church no matter the year, but giving grows about 4-5% per year. However, within the first year of working “part-time with a promise” the church had the opportunity to rehire, this time on a full-time basis, a former pastor who had left us to go plant a campus of our church in Connecticut. It was now self-sufficient, mostly, and one of the plant team members had grown so much spiritually that the reins of the pulpit were handed to him. This former pastor was then rehired as the discipleship pastor back here at our church. Once he was on board, the elder team was reorganized and one of the new aspects of that reorganization was that the worship pastor was made also the executive pastor to take much of the day-to-day church operations responsibilities off the lead (founding) pastor. So, as you can see, the two avenues that were once out there as my route to full-time employment had changed – discipleship and administration. Both filled by full-time pastors other than myself. But most assuredly I cannot blame them for what they did. Our pastor of discipleship is an amazing man. I am a total project and he is an accomplished discipler of men and women. He was that free agent that they had to go out and grab when he became available. I get that. Our church is so headed in the right discipleship direction with him on staff. It was a stroke of genius inspired by God to bring him back to our Lyman, SC staff.


The elder team carved out responsibilities for me to fulfill under the title of director of finance and administration working up under the new executive pastor position. However, I knew from the time that the new discipleship pastor was brought on board as a full-time pastor, then the hiring of a full-time youth pastor near the same time, and the expansion of responsibilities for the worship pastor as the executive pastor and knowing the finances of the church, the future of me being a full-time member of the pastoral staff at my church would be delayed for a long-time as the church worked on what the needed priorities were. As well, there came a point too in my limited capacity there I had accomplished a lot by a year and a half later. When you combine that with what we had accomplished when I was completely volunteer as the finance director, we had accomplished a lot in 5 years. We had implemented an accounting software package that enabled us to understand the church’s performance. We had gone back and developed financial statements all the way back to almost the beginning of this young church. We had refinanced the church’s building debt. We had defined roles and responsibilities. We had developed policies and procedures. We had hired a maintenance contractor service. We had identified all the things that were wrong with the church buildings and began working on them. We had developed and refined the budgeting process. We had adequately satisfied the bank’s documentation needs each year. We even were able to secure a line of credit for the church to help ease the peaks and valleys of giving. So much was accomplished, particularly during that year and half I was on part time staff.


However, God had laid it on my heart that my salary from the church was a drag on the finances of the church and that it would be 5 to 10 years before they could bring me on full-time. It was time to go back to volunteer status and free up $1k of cash plus taxes per month. I just didn’t feel right any longer just working part-time with no real target in sight. After much prayer, I went back to volunteer status as of April of this year. Sure, I still manage the financial reporting of the church and am still a teacher in the discipleship team, but the dream of being a full-time pastor seems to have ended or been delayed or something.


Maybe it is not here. Maybe there is some people group that I am going to meet where God just lays it on me to go there and plant a church. Maybe, like in the show, How I Met Your Mother, when Stella tells Ted that though he is alone now, his perfect soulmate is out there, somewhere, and “she’s getting here as fast as she can!” Maybe, there’s an already existing church that God has in store for me and she “is getting here as fast as she can!” Stella told Ted that he HAD trust that! Likewise, I have to trust that! Maybe, this time at LifeSong is preparation for me to develop a new ministry out of our church. That idea has been gelling in my mind as part of deciding what my doctoral thesis will be about it. Maybe, I can translate that doctoral thesis plan into an actual plan of action and ministry to be operated out of our church (because that was the original laboratory for what my thesis is going to be all about).


There’s a lot of maybe’s and nothing is clear at this point. But like Ted trusting that his woman of his dreams was getting to him as fast as she could, I must trust that God is working out the details of my true ministry where I will spend the remainder of my days on this earth. That idea is working its way out. It is getting here as fast as it can. I must. I HAVE to trust that from a God who keeps his promises.


It was that idea that God always, ALWAYS, keeps his promises that struck me when I l re-read this passage this morning – particularly those last three verses. 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 God proved faithful in fulfilling every promise He had given to Israel. Fulfillment of some promises took a good long while, but “not a single one of all the good promises the LORD had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled.” God’s promises will be fulfilled according to His timetable, not ours, but we know His words is sure. The more we learn of the promises of God has fulfilled and continues to fulfill, the easier it is to hope for yet to come. Sometimes, we become impatient, wanting God to act a certain way right now. Instead, we should faithfully do what we know He wants us to do right now and trust Him for the future.


We get impatient with God at times, when He does not dispense what we want from the vending machine fast enough. We may feel the need to bang on the vending machine. We may feel the need to shake the vending machine. We may get all pouty about why God has not come through on the promises He has made to us. We may get all pouty because the dream has worked out the way we planned it. I imagine that the Levites may have been wondering the same thing after wandering in the desert for 40 years and then watching the assignment of the lands to the tribes and nothing was happening for them. Finally, God gives them cities and towns scattered throughout the nation as their inheritance.


God never fails to keep a promise. If He has called you to ministry, He will make a way. It may not be today. It may not be five years from now. It may only happen when you quit trying to set the agenda for God. God’s plan for my ultimate ministry will fall into place in God’s timing not mine. He will bring it and it will be abundantly clear. It will be that aha moment that everything falls into place for me to do exactly what He has planned for me. He’s getting the plan together right now and everything is about my readiness and that ministry opportunity coming together at that right moment in time according to his plan.


None of this is wasted. Every bit of everything I have ever gone through is preparation for that intersection moment of perfect clarity, passion and burden that lies ahead. I must trust in that. It is His timetable. It is His plan. And He is bringing it to fruition even as I sit here and right about it being out there somewhere. And God is getting it here as fast as He can. I have to trust that. I am trusting that. God is bringing my dream ministry to me as fast as He can. In the meantime, I should enjoy the journey. I should enjoy what God is teaching me that is to ready me for what is next.


Amen and Amen.

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