The City Of Refuge

“Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger: that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment” (Numbers 35:11,12).

The fundamental law for maintaining order in human societies had been given by God at the very beginning of the post-flood world. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man” (Genesis 9:6). Blood vengeance is still practiced in some cultures, no difference being made between an accidental homicide and deliberate murder.

In the Mosaic law, however, God did establish such a distinction, providing cities of refuge to which a manslayer could flee for protection from the avenger, assuming he was not guilty of real murder. The New Testament makes this to be a type of the safety a sinner can find in Christ.

The writer of Hebrews stresses the sure promise of God for the sinner’s salvation in these powerful words: “That . . . we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:18,19). A guilty sinner, deserving death (“for the wages of sin is death”—Romans 6:23), has no escape from his just punishment except to flee to the Lord Jesus for refuge and security.

God not only has provided a refuge; He is that refuge, for Christ the Savior is also God the Judge. He Himself has borne the judgment; therefore He can provide salvation. “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God” (Psalm 62:7). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). HMM

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