Cities of Refuge
“[T]hat by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” -Heb. 6:18
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For many immigrants, America symbolizes hope, new life, and achieving their dreams. Some seek refuge in the United States to get away from the turmoil and poverty of their native countries. They want to go to a place where they are safe, where they are free to accomplish their dreams, and a place where they can have a new life for their families.
God, when distributing the Israelites their inheritance, established such places for them. He commanded Moses to have the Israelites designate cities of refuge for a person to flee to if they unintentionally killed someone.
He said, “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” (Num. 35:12).
The cities of refuge provided protection. There were three cities across the Jordan and three cities in the land of Canaan: Bezer, Ramoth-Gilead, Golan, Hebron, Schechem, and Kedesh (Joshua 20:7-8).
Anyone who fled there was safe from the family member – or the avenger – of the person who was killed until a trial of sorts was held to determine their guilt or innocence (Num. 35:29). If the person was proven to be innocent, they had to remain in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. After that, they could return to their home and possessions.
There was protection in the cities of refuge. However, if the person who killed someone left the city of refuge at any time before the death of the high priest and the avenger of blood found him and killed him, the avenger of blood would not be found guilty (Num. 35:26-28).
While, as far as I know, we don’t have designated cities of refuge anywhere today, we do have a refuge in Christ. And His city of refuge is His church.
We may not live in a country where there is extreme turmoil, war, poverty, or distress, but we all are in need of a spiritual city of refuge.
When we sin, we can flee to Christ whose blood will cleanse us of all unrighteousness. When we need protection from the enemy, we can run to the Lord and find safety. When we are in trouble, we can flee to Christ Jesus who is an ever-present help. And when the storms of life rage against us, we can run to the Lord and find shelter.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10). “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).
Christ welcomes all people to His city of refuge. In His city of refuge, there is forgiveness of sins. In His city, there is protection. There is hope. There is peace. There is love. And there is new life.
But we must remain in the city once we get there. There is no protection from spiritual death outside the city limits.
We all need to flee to Christ’s city of refuge because we all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). He’s offering us salvation and protection from death, which is the wages of our sins (Rom. 6:23).
All you have to do is obey God in believing that Jesus Christ is Lord (John 8:24), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess that Jesus is Lord to others (Matt. 10:32), and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins (Mark 16:16). Then the Lord will add you to His city – His church, and you will be saved (Acts 2:47).
Let’s all flee to the Lord’s city of refuge (Heb. 6:18).
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1
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