The Book of Joshua

26. The Most Sacred Inheritance.

Joshua 13:14 and 33.

"That I may know Him." — Phil. 3:10.

The countries which the children of Israel inherited in Canaan were settled by Jehovah by lot, and distributed by the high priest and the leader of Israel, the heads of the tribes conveying the Lord's directions to the people.

Levi's peculiar portion is first to be considered: "Unto the tribe of Levi He gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the Lord God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as He said unto them" (13:14). The Lord God of Israel was their inheritance (13:33). Levi was "scattered in Israel," according to the prophecy of Jacob; but Levi's portion was the most sacred and the most precious of all. Wherever the other tribes dwelt, there was Levi; wherever the devout spirits in Israel worshipped the Lord, there Levi had his inheritance. The Lord — not a position — was Levi's lot: "The Lord God of Israel is their inheritance." And so it is that the happiest and wealthiest Christians are they who find in the Lord Himself their portion. Whether dwelling among the two and a half tribes on the other side of Jordan, or among the nine and a half in Canaan, not the special position of the land where their cities were, but Jehovah Himself, and the sacrifices made by fire to him, were Levi's inheritance. "The breadth, and length, and depth, and height" (Eph. 3:18) are most truly comprehended by those Christians who have most of Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith; by those who, like Levi, have the Lord Himself and the sacrifices as their conscious portion. It is well to fight the giants and to overcome cities; but it is better to sacrifice burnt offerings and to partake of peace offerings, to worship God and to hold communion with Him concerning the Lord Jesus.

Levi's portion, in one sense, could never be assailed either by the dweller in the land or by the foreign foe; for even in the darkest day of Israel's departure, when the people of God had betaken themselves to caves and holes in the earth for fear of the enemy, Levi could look up to the unclouded heavens, and exclaim to Jehovah, "Thou art my portion and the lot of my inheritance." Yet in another sense, Levi would be the first to suffer in the day of Israel's adversity, for the sacrifices of Israel were Levi's portion, and these would fail when the foe held Israel captive. And so it is, those nearest to Christ, while they rejoice in a portion that can never be removed, and which never can vary, are the first to feel, in all its acuteness, the spiritual poverty of saints or their affliction by the enemy.

Israel, responsible to maintain their possession in Canaan, might and did utterly fail; the heathen and the idols might and did obtain the mastery over them; but the unchangeable God was Levi's inheritance, and wherever the spirit of worship to Him arose in any of Israel, and sacrifices by fire were offered to Him, there Levi had his inheritance.

With the material blessings of Israel before our eye — their land flowing with milk and honey, and fed with depths springing out of valleys and hills — it is not difficult to discern the peculiar position occupied by Levi. And, spiritually understood, in the Levites' inheritance is seen the believer's most perfect portion; for, while we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ, while we have in Him pleasures bestowed upon us for evermore, we have, beyond all blessings which are conferred upon us through or in Christ, the Lord Himself. Indeed, believers are brought into the blessings of Christianity that they may delight in Christ. God has saved and brought His people to Himself, for no less an end than that of their being like the Lord and knowing Him as they are known (1 Cor. 13:12). God's grace towards us reaches beyond deliverance from wrath and entrance into life. Therefore, while we contemplate His mercy — the forgiveness of sins, redemption of Christ, death and resurrection with Christ — it is for us to reach forth, in order that we may realize and abide in our nearest and highest portion. "That I may know Him" (Phil. 3:10), is the high aim of the energy of the new life.

When the Lord is seen, by faith, in his excellence, the glory of his light dims everything else. Saul of Tarsus saw His face brighter than the noonday sun, and thenceforth Saul was for heaven. The Lord in the heavens instructed him not only concerning the glory, but opened to him the wonder of His own heart there.

It is well to consider our unchangeable God and our unvarying portion in Him before we dwell on the failure of God's people in general, either to lay firm hold of the conquered portions of the land, or to advance and conquer the portions still unpossessed. Let the Lord Himself fill the heart, and the possessions will be obtained, but where possessions are the object and not the Lord, the soul is dry and unprofitable, and the hard and unprofitable soul soon loses conscious grip of its possessions.