City of Refuge
Scripture reading for February 20th: Numbers 34-36
This past week I counseled someone who has a relative who was involved in a murder. Murder is a terrible crime that causes grief, pain, and sometimes revenge and more violence. The thief, Satan, comes to steal, kill and destroy his victims. Murder is a sin that destroys a person who is made in the image of God. It robs the victim of fulfillment of his life and purpose here on earth. It robs God of any glory He would receive from that person fulfilling his destiny and purpose.
God knew that sin in the heart of His people would sometimes lead to this sin of murder. Sometimes it would be a willful act that deserved punishment. The penalty in the Old Testament for willfully taking the life of another human being was the forfeiting of the life of the murderer. (Numbers 21:16) A close relative could take it on themselves to be the avenger of blood and take the life of the one who had murdered. (Numbers 35:21)
Sometimes someone may kill another person accidentally, without premeditation or intention. There may be no witnesses, and anger may be provoked in a friend or relative to avenge this death. God provided 6 cities of refuge for this person who unintentionally killed someone. (Numbers 35:6) The person could flee to a city of refuge and was to be kept safe there from the avenger. Today we would call this “manslaughter” and our laws also recognize whether or not the murder or death was intentional or not.
Today we have something better than these Israelites. “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Jesus Christ is our refuge and we can run to Him. (Hebrews 6:17-20) He is our priest who will not only pray for us but who has paid the penalty for our sin and can give us freedom! We can be greatly encouraged today that any sin we commit, except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, has a remedy in Jesus Christ. (Matthew 12:31-32)
If you need a refuge today, turn to Jesus and confess your sin and need. Allow these truths to give you hope and encouragement. The New Jerusalem where Jesus Christ is the Lord and Light is the ultimate “City of Refuge.” (Revelation 21:2-5)