A Safe Place
As you prepare to read, ask God to speak a word of truth into your life through his Spirit.
Read Joshua 20:1-9
 Then the LORD said to Joshua:  “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses,  so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.  When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them.  If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought.  They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”  So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah.  East of the Jordan (on the other side from Jericho) they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh.  Any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat do these cities of refuge say about God?
I work in an area often referred to as conflict transformation. Sometimes in countries emerging from a violent past this brings me into contact with other peace-builders, ex-combatants who in former times might even have taken someone’s life. Some of these people are now involved in governments, leading change and building democracy. Everyone has a past; but it is also true that everyone has a future. Most of us will grow old never having committed a crime or an act of hostility against another person. Sometimes, however, things happen which lie outside our control and people get hurt because of something we said or did (3). In today’s passage, God shows us that he provides a safe place for people who have messed things up (9). In the case of the cities of refuge, the amnesty covered those unintentional acts for which society would have imposed an “an eye for an eye” punishment (Deut. 19:21). In the case of the cross, however, God’s refuge offers cover for all our wrong acts, intentional as well as unintentional. His forgiveness not only covers our past, but opens up our future! What a God we serve!
If you have “messed things up” with anyone, plan now to go to them and seek forgiveness and reconciliation. .
Praise God that he accepts us as we are and helps us to become what he wants us to be.
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