Cities of Refuge
In the Old Testament God gave a commandment to Moses that was eventually carried out by Joshua and the people of Israel. This commandment was to appoint six cities to be “cities of refuge”, these cities were intended to be safe havens for people who accidentally killed another person. This week I want to look at these cities and see how this is relevant to us today.
The Lord did not create a law enforcement agency when he wrote the commandments so crimes tended to be dealt with according to the offense.
24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe
Often if a man was killed, his closest relative would have the right to avenge him which is where the cities of refuge come in
Numbers 35: 9-15
9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there. 12 They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment. 13 And of the cities which you give, you shall have six cities of refuge. 14 You shall appoint three cities on this side of the Jordan, and three cities you shall appoint in the land of Canaan, which will be cities of refuge. 15 These six cities shall be for refuge for the children of Israel, for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills a person accidentally may flee there.
These were places where people would go to seek shelter and protection until they could have a trial. These cities were spread out so that they were available to everyone and no tribe was too far away, it didn’t matter who you were or where you were from. All you had to do was enter.
As Christians we have our own city of refuge we can run to, a place where we can go to for shelter. That place is the arms of Jesus. Its no wonder that he is called our refuge, and our sovereign fortress.
Where do you run for shelter?