Summary: 23rd in series on Joshua. This speaks about God providing for those who serve Him. All believers are priests, and therefore are meant to serve Him and others.
Joshua 21:1-45 – God Provides for His Priests
Paul Harvey told about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mom. Before they entered the store, she said to him, "Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask."
She put him up in the cart and he sat in the little child’s seat while she wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw the chocolate chip cookies & he stood up in the seat & said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.” So he sat back down.
They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down & be quiet.”
Finally, they were approaching the checkout lane. The little boy sensed that this may be his last chance. So just before they got to the line, he stood up on the seat of the cart & shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” And everybody round about just laughed. Some even applauded. And, according to Paul Harvey, due to the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy & his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.
Today I want to look at how God provides for His people, His servants. Turn with me to Joshua 21. It’s a long chapter, but we’ll follow along together.
Now, we’re getting to the end of the book. The land has been divided among the tribes. The Promised Land is becoming just that: not just a land far off, waiting to be seen, but the promises are being fulfilled. The tribes have their land, the old hero Caleb has his land, even the leader Joshua has his land. But one thing remains. One tribe needs what was promised to them. The tribe is the Levites, descendants of Israel’s son Levi, who were set aside to be the priests. They were not promised great parcels of land, but instead, they were promised cities: 21:1-3.
Now, I’ll admit, this doesn’t sound very exciting to us. I mean, so what? What does it matter? Well, it matters for 2 reasons: 1) It shows that God takes care of those who serve Him, and 2) We need to serve Him. In a sense, we are no different from that early bunch of priests.
Let me give you some history. To most people October 31 is Halloween, but there is another holiday attached to the date. It’s called Reformation Day. On October 31, 1517, a young Catholic priest named Martin Luther decided to oppose the church’s teachings on many issues. This incident became part of a movement known as the Reformation, the birth of the Protestant church.
Now, one of the things that the Protestant church embraced was a belief called the priesthood of all believers. This doctrine simply said, you don’t need to go to a priest to have your sins forgiven. You don’t need to go through anybody. You can talk to God yourself, and ask Him yourself to forgive you, and He will.
But also, the doctrine says that you really aren’t your own priest. Yes, you can go to God yourself, but the doctrine also says that each Christian is to act as priest for others. 1 Peter 2:5 says, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.” The Reformers believed that confession no longer had to be made to priests but to any believer. John Calvin, another Reformer and early thinker in the Baptist church, said that even though requiring confession wasn’t necessary, he valued confessing our sins to one another, as the Bible says.
The point is, every believer is a priest, in a sense. Every believer is to serve others. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” Each and every believer is meant to help others draw closer to God. No matter what they have been through, every believer is meant to help others reach out to God. Through words, through actions, through service, you were made to serve others. Just like the 48 Levitical cities, scattered throughout the whole land, serving in many different places, we too were made not to come and hear and feel good about ourselves and never leave our holy huddle – we were made to scatter and to serve in many ways and many places.