Devotional: Let’s learn from the Levites

Numbers 35:2
“Command the children of Israel that they give the Levites cities to dwell in from the inheritance of their possession, and you shall also give the Levites common-land around the cities.”

What makes Levites so special? Before the Levitical Priesthood, it was the firstborns (of all tribes) of Israel who had a special calling. It all came tumbling down for the firstborns when the people fell to worshipping a golden calf in the absence of Moses (as he was receiving the Ten Commandments from God in Mount Sinai). The Levites were the only tribe who did not participate in the pagan worship and they were quick to obey the commands of God regarding those who did. No wonder God has placed a special favor on Levi’s line. Not only were they appointed with special roles in leadership but God saw to it that the Levites also received special portions in Israel’s conquests.

It’s interesting to note, going back, that the future of the Levites didn’t always look so bright. In Genesis 34, we find Jacob rebuking Levi and Simeon for their violent vengeance over the Shechemites. About fifteen chapters later as Jacob lay on his deathbed, instead of blessing Levi and Simeon he pronounced a curse on them: “Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.”

Jacob’s curse did fall upon them, but having proved their loyalty to God (and well, because God is utterly gracious), their distribution turned into a privilege by being assigned to the cities of refuge where castaways – murderers and other sinners deemed by law find just that.

Reference: Numbers 35:1-8

Love is: Before anything…

I excitedly discussed my plans for this series with Angel, one of my closest friends in church. We had served in the ushering ministry for the youth service, and I had never expected then the weight of the friendship we’d be having now. She’s one of the few people (amidst huge and many circles of friends that I’ve made in my entire lifetime) who, and I say this with certainty, I can always trust to steer me back in the right direction, spiritually speaking. She is privy to many of my struggles and I have never been disappointed coming to her.

My invitation was pretty simple: I sent her our reference passage in list form and asked her to pick out specific qualities she would like to write about. But as we discussed further, we agreed that before going on to the specifics of what Love Is, it’s just right that we offer a backgrounder first. 

Which brings us here. What can you expect from this introductory (with a long intro)? Here we look at: who the recipients of the letter were, what motivated Paul to send the letter, how it applies to our time and God’s role in all of this.

***

The Corinthians were the most corrupt people at the time Paul wrote his letters. Homosexuality and other types of sin seemed to be an everyday thing for these folks. They are known to be the most sexually immoral people of their time!

No wonder Paul saw the need to redefine LOVE. For this word never exists in a world of flesh, and that world is not different from ours today. And whoever said it first said it right - history repeats itself. Sexual immorality is just as prevalent as before.

Society now says that it’s alright to be sexually immoral because it’s a right to express oneself. Sin is now something that people should flaunt, rather than hide. The world today even encourages people to come out and expose their dirty laundry to the world. Hey, it’s okay to sin and there’s nothing wrong about it! The world had become so twisted that being righteous was something people is ashamed of. Sin has become the ticket to the world’s acceptance. This doesn’t come as a shocker because the world was set up to have sin rule and reign.

As Christians in a Corinthian setting, it’s important for us to understand that while we are in this world, we are not of this world. We are set apart, made clean and holy by what Jesus has done on the cross. We could never do it by collecting good deeds and founding charities. Even though we give our bodies and sacrifice for others it’s all for nothing, if we didn’t have Christ (1Corinthian 13:3).

What sets us apart from everyone is love - it’s because we have love. We have God. Love is who God is (1 John 4:8). Love is a character of God.

Going through Psalms, we learn that we praise God for two things: who He is and what He does. And 1 Corinthians 13 is all about who God is. 1 John 4:8 says God is love. Therefore, whenever the word love is mentioned here in the Love is passage we must remember that it is all God.

God is patient
God is kind
God does not envy
God does not boast
God is not proud
God is not rude
God is not irritable
God does not keep records of wrong
God does not rejoice in evil
God rejoices with the truth
God always protects, hopes, trusts and perseveres
God never fails

Paul listed many not’s in the passage, and with this perspective we clearly see the contrasts of the world’s view of love. As a word it’s often abused and misunderstood. Many try to define love through deeds – the things we do or give to those we are in a relationship with.

A diamond ring, for example, is known to represent the kind of love that gets people to tie the knot. Here in this passage, Paul explains what love is to the people who are so ignorant and blinded by the world. He emphasizes that love is more than just gifts, deeds, lust, sex or emotions. Love is God and as Christians we are expected to have this kind of love to be more like God. We are expected to possess these traits of love, and not follow that which is defined by human standards.

This introductory post was written by Angel Javale, of which all views are supported by the facilitator of this blog.

Devotional: Reubenites and Gadites settle for second-best

Numbers 32:5, NKJV
"Therefore they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.”

God has a place beyond the Jordan for each of us, where our destinies await fulfillment and blessings abound. Needless to say that the journey towards our own promised lands is filled with obstacles and opposition. Troubles will pursue us (remember the insecure Pharaoh?)…that is if we don’t come to it first (Moabites, Amalekites, etc).

We know that God is with us – just as He was with the wandering Israelites – and this tells us that there are no hopeless situations God cannot overturn. He will help us conquer “lands” and “people” (please mind context), and He will bring us to victory and peaceful seasons just as much as He will allow challenges to shape us.

But are you aware that, more often than not, the good times can be just as limiting as the bad?

*GASP* WHAT AN ODD PERSPECTIVE, DANIELLE?

God is good, yes – no question to that. Amen? And He wants us to enjoy our blessings – our “plunder” so to speak. God is not sadistic – He does not find amusement in watching His children willingly walk towards painful situations. So He takes us out of those situations and guides us towards a life of abundance.

Now what did He promise the Israelites? Didn’t God say He will bring them to a “land flowing with milk and honey”? A word He gave to ALL tribes?

I want you to look at the first few passages of Numbers 32, and focus on the Reubenites and the Gadites. This comes after the Moabite plunder was divided squarely among the army and the tribes.  The Reubenites and the Gadites – men of livestock – discovered an Amorite land called Jazer, and saw that it was perfect for their livelihood. They have not yet crossed the Jordan River at this point and coming to Jazer, these two tribes felt like there was no longer the need to. So they asked to settle in the land and take it as their inheritance, instead of Canaan.

What was Moses’ response? There were about six more paragraphs of dialogue that ensued after these two tribes laid their proposition. It was a LONG discussion. But in a nutshell, what Moses wanted the Reubenites and the Gadites to understand was this: “You are settling. Do you remember what happened to the ten spies who failed to believe God’s big dream? They never made it! But okay, if you REALLY want this – if you’re really gonna bargain with God, then make sure you hold up your end (to fight for Israel). Otherwise, you are leading yourselves and your people out of the boundaries of God’s blessings.”

What’s so wrong about that, Danielle? What’s so wrong about trying to keep the good that comes your way? The Reubenites and the Gadites wanted security for their livelihood and their families – how can you be disqualifying them?

The temptation to settle is always a strong one, and sometimes we don’t even consider the decision a matter of settling for less if what comes our way seems perfect for our circumstances. But God is not a god of circumstances – He is a god of “crazy” faith. When we receive a personal, special promise from God – know that He will bring us to it. The boundaries of that promise is not subjective to where we’d like to camp. Gilead is not Canaan. The edge of the Jordan River is not Canaan.

If we do choose to settle, God will give us what we ask for. The Reubenites and the Gadites conquered the land – it was theirs. We even hear about them beyond the book of Numbers. They held up their vow to fight alongside their brethren, and God blessed them according to the fulfillment of their vow. But after the battles – when Israel has finally realized her inheritance, in Joshua 22:4-5, Joshua made it clear that these two tribes (plus the half-tribe of Manasseh) were to return to the “land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan”. They were to go back home, a second-rate location, given to them by Moses as they had asked for it.

Reference: Numbers 32

My God, You are an unchanging love
My God, You are sends hope from aboveThe Great Creator, Beautiful Savior
I’ve been redeemed
There is life now from Your victory
You are my God

“Sometimes, it takes getting all you wanted for you to see it’s not what you needed.”
— Steven Furtick, #DeathtoSelfie