A Safe Refuge
God of Justice and Mercy, human anger is not just nor are our sentiments reliable. Thank You for keeping us safe from both.
Read Deuteronomy 19:1-14
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Just as I am, thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve: Because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come” (Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871).
This passage relates to the sixth commandment (Deut. 5:17) and differentiates between murder and manslaughter. The former is intentional, to be punished by death (Num. 35:16-21), while the latter is unintentional (4,5) and treated differently. Ancient social custom demanded that relatives of a victim avenge his death by seeking the death of his murderer. What if the victim was killed accidentally? Human emotions can run high and the avenger may take the law into his own hands. For such situations, God designated cities of refuge. The man who killed accidentally can run to any of them for protection.
These cities were spread out across the land for easy access. Roads were to be built to these cities (3). Extra-biblical sources mention that at every crossroads were signs saying, “Refuge! Refuge!” The cities offered refuge to both Jew and foreigner (Josh. 20:9). Anyone seeking refuge would be tried to ensure that his case was genuine (Josh. 20:4-6). Murderers were not allowed to find refuge and were handed over for the law to take its due course (11-13).
The cities of refuge were a reminder of God’s justice and mercy. His laws ensured the rights of a murder victim to have the murderer given just punishment and also protected those who killed accidentally. God did not want innocent blood to be shed in the land (10,13). Yet to make a way so that all of us guilty humans can be offered refuge, Jesus shed his innocent blood in the land for us (Heb. 6:18). In his mercy extended to us through Christ, God offers forgiveness and refuge to those guilty of sins. He, the avenger of his Son whom we killed, forgives us and offers a safe place in him for ever. We are now “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).
If you have not come to Jesus for refuge, today is the day. Call out to him. Thank him for his sacrifice on your behalf and live in him.
Lord, I am a sinner in need of forgiveness and safe refuge from punishment. Help me to run to Jesus and remain in him, and help me to point the way to others.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.