Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XV: Overcoming A Lack Of Effective Spiritual Influence In A Region
(Joshua 21:1-45)
  1. Introduction
    1. In the efforts of many Evangelicals today, the drive is for renewal of the nation, a getting back to the roots of our spiritual heritage.
    2. There is a debate as to what is the best way to accomplish this task: (a) should the Church gather together in large convocations as the main vehicle of stemming the tide of apostasy or (b) should we emphasize the local level of local church assemblies?
    3. God has a pattern for us that answers this question in His establishment of spiritual "buffer" zones against apostasy in Israel in Joshua 21:1-45.
  2. Overcoming A Lack Of Effective Spiritual Influence In A Region, Joshua 21:1-45.
    1. God made arrangements for the Tribe of Levi not to inherit a specific area of territory in particular, but rather to be scattered throughout Palestine in various cities, Jos. 21:1-2 with Num. 35:2.
      1. The tribe of Levi would not have a single area allotted to them; rather, they would live in cities throughout Israel, Jos. 21:1-2.
      2. Around these walled cities were pastures to be used for grazing their animals for food, Num. 35:2 NIV.
    2. This dispersion of the Levites fit a plan of God to build a spiritual buffer zone against apostasy in Israel.
      1. Moses stated that the role of the Levites would be that of instructing the people in the Law, Dt. 33:10.
      2. Thus, having them scattered among the other 11 tribes provided an effective spiritual buffer:
        1. This plan provided personal access of individuals to individual Levites for grass roots coverage.
        2. It supplied counselors who knew the people because they lived among them and could be effective.
        3. It also equipped the people with knowledgeable Biblical input within their ready grasp.
    3. When the Levites received their cities, scattered throughout the land were 48 Levitical cities so that every Jew was within 10 miles of a Levite who knew the Law, cf. Bib. Know. Com., O.T., p. 364 with Jos. 21:3-42! This made access to capable, Biblically literate counselors within a day's walk for maximum influence at the grass roots level of Israel.
    4. The cities were appointed by lot, Jos. 21:4a, 4b, 5a etc. Since lots were cast by the High Priest to seek God's will, the lot being considered God's selection (Pr. 16:33), these cities came by God's moving!
Lesson: God's plan for buffering Israel from apostasy was centered around a local ministry and not just national convocations where the men gathered three times a year. The match for this kind of exposure in the Church era is the local church mini stry.

Application: (1) There is a need for the local church ministry as (a) it gives individuals access to able Bible input by a locally trained staff; (b) it gives individuals capable counselors who are familiar with the unique idiosyncrasies of a given area because they are used to living amongst the people; (c) it minimizes the TIME needed for solutions to problems that arise as local ministries best stay on top of and provide access for needs of individuals at the grass roots level. (2) Like the natio nal convocations that occurred in Israel three times a year, there is a benefit for believers meeting in large groups at times for a direction and unity with others of like precious faith; however, these are occasional gatherings where the local church mini stry is the hands-on, day-in and day-out ministry that God uses to stem apostasy. (1 Tim. 3:14-15) (3) As every Israelite was within 10 miles of a Levitical town, it would be ideal to have Bible teaching churches scattered enough distance from one other in all directions worldwide to provide both the depth and yet the coverage to disciple well. (4) God wants Bible teachers to be scattered, not all bound up in a single area. (5) However, as the cities of the priests were selected by lot, and thus by divine will, we must follow God's leading in where, when & how churches are set up.