What Does Numbers 18:20 Mean?

Then the LORD said to Aaron, "You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.

Numbers 18:20(NASB)
Picture courtesy of Rev. Yves Langevin

Verse Thoughts

The earthy Aaronic priesthood is a shadow of Christ's heavenly Melchizedek Priesthood. Many of the roles and responsibilities of this temporary, earthly priesthood provide insight into the permanent heavenly role of the Lord Jesus as our heavenly High Priest.

While Judah was chosen to be in the kingly line of Israel, the tribe of Levi was selected to be God's special Temple servants and priests. Part of their role was to act as a spokesman for God. They were to mediate before Him, on behalf of their fellow countrymen, while the role of High Priest was given to Aaron and his descendents. 

The main theme in Leviticus is holiness and a life that is consecrated to God, and the Lord designed the duties and office of the Levites and priests to emphasise their sacred ministry and mission. They were charged with caring for all the sacred implements of the Tabernacle and required to 'bear the iniquity of the people on their shoulders'. They were to intercede on behalf of the sinful nation to their holy God, deliver God's precepts to His people and make the appropriate offerings to the Lord of heaven, on Israel's behalf.

The sacred office of the priesthood brought the Levites into a much closer relationship with the Lord because they were the ones He chose to mediate between Himself and His people. They were the ones who were required to offer sacrificial offerings to the Lord for the atonement of sin. Another difference between the tribe of Levi and all the other tribes was that the Levites did not receive an inheritance in the promised land.

Their enormous responsibility in caring for all the needs of God's people and fulfilling their tabernacle duties, undertaking the sacrificial offerings and the various requirements of the Law, meant they had no time to tend to their own material needs. They were in no position to farm land, raise livestock or build houses.. "so the LORD said to Aaron, 'You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them," and then qualified it by saying, "I am your portion and I am your inheritance among the sons of Israel".

The Levite's lack of inheritance in the promised land was not a matter of God's indifference of disinterest. It was not an oversight or a punishment. The inheritance promised to the Levites did not come as a parcel of land in Canaan. Their portion and inheritance was the Lord Himself!

The fruit of the land was God's provision to all His people, but He provided for the priests in a unique and different way. The other tribes worked the land and ate of the fruit of their labour, but were commanded to give a thanksgiving offering of a tenth to the Lord. God used their tithe to provide for the upkeep of the Temple and to supply the material needs of the priests and Levites - who were also commanded to give a tenth of the tithe they received from their fellow Israelites back to the Lord!

The priests and Levites may not have had an inheritance in the land or received a portion like their fellow countrymen, but the Lord, Himself was to be their portion and their inheritance - which they received through the tithe of the remaining tribes! The blessings that flowed to priests through the people was God's provision, according to His riches in mercy.

All things came to Israel from God and they were giving back to the Lord from HIS gracious provision. When they honoured the Lord with their tithes and offerings God promised they would be blessed - but when they did evil in the sight of the Lord, or refused to give their tithe, provision was cut off for priests and people alike. 

God wanted His people to understand that all things come from Him and the small tithe that was offered back to Him was a tiny portion of the bountiful goodness He showered on them. He wanted them.. and us, to know that all good and perfect gifts come from our Father in heaven.. and it honours the Lord when we give Him our offering of praise and thanksgiving freely and cheerfully.

The Church of Christ is a kingdom of priests, and unlike Israel there is not a legal requirement to offer the Lord a tithe. But like the priests we have the privilege and honour of knowing that the Lord is our portion and our very great reward. All that we have HE gave us, and all that we are He made us. May we give freely and cheerfully to the Lord for all His goodness are grace to us.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You that You are my portion, my inheritance and my great reward. Help me to give willingly and cheerfully make my offering to You, knowing that all that I have has come from You. This I pray in Jesus' name, AMEN.

Picture courtesy of Rev. Yves Langevin

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