No Inheritance in this LandBy Nathan Mates
"The LORD said to Aaron, "You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites." [Numbers 18:20]
Tha above is an interesting juxtaposition in the middle of the Israelite's wanderings in the desert. The Israelites had a promised land waiting for them as soon as they stopped whining and complaining. God promised the land to them, God would give it to them, and yet some of them wouldn't get any of that land. Permanently.
The disinherited were, in some senses, the most privledged of the Israelites: the priests-- the tribe of Levi. Those that would be the closest to God would be the most precarious in society: in an agrarian society as existed before Christ, most of the populace must be farmers. Those that didn't farm had to do some of the other roles in society, which usually make money such as trading. But, the Levites didn't do that either: their job was to manage God's tabernacle, and all the sacrifices (Leviticus 1-7) associated with it.
Sounds like a pretty thankless job, then: all work, can't own property. But God was merciful, and had a set of balances worked out for the negatives: the Levites would receive the tithes (10% offerings) required of the Israelites, be they oil, wine, grain, or anything else. [Numbers 18:11-18] The parts of the sacrificial offerings not burnt up were also for the Levites-- the choice meats and grains. While the Levites would have no inheritance in the land, they had something better promised: "The priests, who are Levites--indeed the whole tribe of Levi--are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the offerings made to the LORD by fire, for that is their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them." [Deut 18:1-2]
When the Israelites obeyed these commandments to tithe, the priests would live well enough-- that was God's plan, and, as such, things work out well when everyone follows the plan. As can probably be expected, when humans are involved, they're more likely than not going to mess up the plan. Many priests were slackers on the job, such as the wicked sons of Eli. [1 Samuel 2:12-17, 2:27-36]
And later, as the entire nation of Israel sinned, the nation-- including the Levites-- was taken off as part of the Babylonian Captivity in 586BC. Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 list those who returned from the Babylonian captivity, and only about 2.5% of those were Levites and temple servants. But, if the Levites were like any other tribe, they'd tend to represent one twelveth, or over 8% of the population. Thus, the Levites, in general, chose not to return in as great numbers from Babylon-- it is possible that they were allowed to own land, and with no tabernacle or temple to manage, they were sidetracked into other, more comfortable lives.
So, how does all of the above apply today? The temple is not exactly fully built or functioning as a place for daily sacrifices. We do not send 10% of our income to the God through the priests, but I'd be very happy if Caesar (aka the IRS in the USA) took only 10% instead of 33+%. Priests at most churches can own property, such as a home or a car. Simple: we are the modern-day Levites: "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." [1 Peter 2:5]
While the Levites were forbidden from owning land or property, their inheritance was God, as the Deuteronomy 18 quote above. We're no different in that regard: "In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." [1 Peter 1:3-5]
Our inheritance is not of this earth-- it lies for us in Heaven. While we can "own" property here and now, we are not to become attached to it, as it truly belongs to God, not us. Like the Levites, we are to trust in God's perfect plan to provide for us, not anything else of this world, because this world will eventually be demolished to make room for a better replacement.