Father, thank You for being a merciful God. I praise You that You are a refuge for me in times of trouble.
Read JOSHUA 20:1–9
Then the Lord said to Joshua: 2 “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, 3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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.”
7 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. 8 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. 9 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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHave you ever considered what God would be like if he were not kind and merciful?
The “cities of refuge” (2) demonstrate a key difference as to how God’s people were to live in the land compared to the previous inhabitants. Kedesh, Shechem and Hebron were designated refuges for anyone who had unintentionally or accidentally taken a life. These “cooling off zones” would ensure that family avengers would not commit crimes of passion (5), killing the accused who were in fact innocent of murder. A neutral jury within each city (6) would weigh up the circumstances and facts and return a verdict (Num. 35:9–34).
Justice is important to God and it must therefore be important to us. This passage demonstrates “intentionality” about justice. God doesn’t expect us to love and demonstrate justice only in our day-to- day lives. He wants us to be intentional about seeing justice done all around us: in our decisions, our businesses, our buying and selling, our planning, our election voting. This applies even more so for those who lack power, authority and influence in our world. As his children, our hearts should become increasingly like our heavenly Father’s, and our actions should demonstrate heaven’s love and concern on earth.
How might you begin to demonstrate love, justice and mercy to people who are struggling in their circumstances?
God, show me people who need Your mercy today. Give me wisdom in ministering to their needs.
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