Cities and pasture lands throughout Israel’s twelve territories were set aside for the Levites. Six of those 48 cities were appointed as Cities of Refuge. Justice and the spiritual welfare of Israel depend upon the dispersion of the Levites (who know and do their job) throughout all 12 territories. This dispersion reveals a number of truths regarding the governance of the nation:
- Bible literacy accompanies the spiritual welfare of God’s people. The Levites were dispersed throughout the land to exalt and to teach the Book of the Law of Moses, “He [the Levites] teaches Your precepts to Jacob and Your law to Israel” (Deuteronomy 33:10).
- Justice accompanies a biblically literate and spiritually healthy people. Six cities (three on both sides of the Jordan River) among the 48 cities of the Levites are designated as cities of refuge. The Levites form a court of law to hear the case of those involved in unintentional loss of life. Spiritual discernment based on God’s law offers justice for the innocent.
- Bible literate and spiritually healthy people offer unbiased judgment and safe places for those falsely accused of wrong doing. Accidents happen. Sinners, being who they are, seek revenge, even for unintentional loss of life. Cities of Refuge offer those involved in unintentional death a safe place for trial and a safe place to live once innocence is declared. There were no prisons in Israel; those found guilty of intentional loss of life die. Those exonerated are safe from retaliation. The Levites were accountable before God to assure justice reigned in Israel.
The positioning of the Levites throughout all twelve territories and the six cities of refuge within those territories ensure all of Israel access to justice. Right governance of this newly founded nation depends upon Bible literacy and the spiritual health of the Levites.
This passage demonstrates God's fulfillment of two major promises that He made to Abraham that He fulfilled in Joshua's day:
- God swore to Abraham in Genesis 12 that He would make him a great nation and give him Canaan as his inheritance.
- God promised that He would give them rest on every side from their enemies.
The first promise God makes to man in the Bible is His promise regarding the coming seed: "I will put enmity between you and the woman. And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Gen. 3:15). God fulfilled that promise over the course of thousands of years. Every other promise He has made He has fulfilled. Only one promise remains unfulfilled, "He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly" (Revelation 22:20). We can be sure that He will keep that promise as He has all others that He has made. What God promises in His Word He performs in actuality. What He speaks authoritatively He performs omnipotently.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Joshua 19:32-21:45
- Where were the "casting of lots" and decisions made regarding the land division?
- Why were the cities of refuge established in Israel? What does this tell you about God?
- Why were the Levites given towns in each of the tribal areas? (You may want to review the March 12th reading)
Thank the LORD that He is a promise maker and a promise keeper. Read Proverbs 3:5-6 and turn these verses into a praise and a prayer.