Deuteronomy 18:2 “And they shall have no inheritance among their countrymen; the Lord is their portion.”
Observation: The “they” in this verse refers to the Levitical priests. Verse 1 says that the priestly tribe of Levi was to have no “portion or inheritance”; they were to eat the Lord’s offerings.
Israel’s tribes had been promised a specific land inheritance as they prepared to occupy the Promised Land. Some would settle east of the Jordan River, while others would live west of the Jordan, all the way to the Mediterranean. Of course the land was occupied by enemies, but once they had been defeated their land domains were to be their source of sustenance and a place of security. All tribes but Levi. Set aside as priests before the Lord, they didn’t receive an earthy, land inheritance as did the others; instead, theirs was to be an inheritance in the Lord, eating what others had brought by way of offerings.
Application: Why have I always felt a bit sorry for the poor Levites? I grew up in the middle of Kansas where land ownership was a gateway to potential prosperity. Of course it was only potential, not a guarantee. Years ago I asked my farmer father-in-law what he would do if he won a million dollars in the lottery. His response? “I’d keep farming ‘til it was gone.” Prescient indeed. But the potential of creature comforts always exists if I own land. I could sell crops, building granaries to store the surplus ‘til markets improve. I could raise livestock to sell. Perhaps minerals beneath or wind and solar above the land could become a source of lease income.
But those poor Levites. Their sustenance would come only as others gave…a tenth here, a gift there. Where is the security in that? Where is the potential for gain, for comfort? I know how stingy I can be, and I suspect my neighbors of being similarly wired, so who would want to be a priest before the Lord with such provision?
And yet, is that not exactly what I am? Throughout Scripture I am declared to be a priest (Rom. 15:16, 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 5:10…and many more). So when I think about what it means for God to be my portion, my inheritance, isn’t it the best deal around? Should I prefer that piece of fertile bottom land to the provision of the infinitely generous God? This calls into question the basic priorities I have lived by. Do I really want to settle for what the work of my hands can create, or should I submit happily to the Lord’s abundant supply? Perhaps the Levites weren’t so poor after all.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I can be so foolish, so stupid, feeling sorry for Levites when in reality they had the very best inheritance. I choose today to live like the priest you declare me to be. I lay down my supposed right to prosperity as the world defines it, to pursue instead the far better portion. I want to be fed from your banquet table, not at one my own hands have set. Thank you for your infinite love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.